Florence Roma Wilson was born in Sheffield, the daughter of Arnold Wilson, a solicitor, and Amy, nee Dearden. She was educated at West Heath School, Ham, near Richmond, and came to Girton to read Law 1911-1914. While at College she became part of a close-knit group of friends, including Margery (Margie) Garrett (Girton 1907) and Margaret (Pikey) Coursolles Jones (Newnham 1907). It is thought that her novel, 'If all these young men' (1921) is based on this Cambridge coterie and the impact on its members of the First World War.
After leaving Girton she took up a position of assistant in the Food Production Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries 1916-18. She also started writing, and subsequently became a novelist (using the pen name Romer Wilson), publishing more than a dozen works of fiction, biography and drama between 1918 and 1929. She was awarded the Hawthornden Prize in 1921. In 1923, she married Edward O'Brien, of Boston, USA, whom she met in Italy. They had one son and from 1928 the family lived at the Villa Pauliska in Locarno, Switzerland. She died at Lausanne on 11 January 1930.
The papers consist of two manuscripts with notes from the donor.
The first manuscript 'Modern Degeneracy' is in a bound ledger. The title page carries the dedication 'to EBCJ' [Emily Beatrix Coursolles Jones (Topsy)]. The manuscript finishes about half way through the ledger, and is paginated 1-70. The following page has two loose sheets [of the story] originally clipped to the page and a further dedication 'To EBCJ as far as it is finished and as far as it is unfinished from Romer Wilson'. It is dated 'Monday 7.pm.' and a pencil addition has been made 'July 26th 1915'. The manuscript appears to be unpublished and is described in the donor's notes as a lesbian love story.
The second manuscript, 'If all the young men' has been removed from its original spring binder which was in poor condition. The inner folder is inscribed with EBC Jones' name and address, the date (23.07.1917) and the dedication 'To DSR from RMW'. Following the title page, there is a drawing 'The Explanation . DSR explains the situation'. The manuscript is unpaginated. The novel was published as 'If all these young men' in 1921. It is this work which is thought by the Coursolles Jones family and their descendents to be about the Cambridge coterie of Petica (Tica) Coursolles Jones, Donald Struan Robertson (her husband), Margaret Gwendolin (Pikey) Coursolles Jones, Margery (Margie) Garrett and Charles Edward Coursolles Jones (her first husband, killed in the First World War) and Edward Dominick Spring Rice (her second husband).
Notes from the donor (October 2006) explain the background and family connections, as well as provenance of the manuscripts.
Donated by Professor Stephen Robertson October 2006. The manuscripts came to him from his father, Charles Martin Robertson, son of Donald Struan.