The H.J. Lutcher Stark Center

The Stanley Rothwell Papers

A Finding Aid to the Collection at the H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Stanley Rothwell, 1904-1986
Title: The Stanley Rothwell Papers
Dates: 1899-1998
Abstract: Stanley Rothwell was a British physical culturist and educator best known as a writer, fitness model, bodybuilder, boxer, and wrestler. Rothwell wrote extensively about health and fitness, mining, war, philosophy, politics, and himself. The collection focuses on physical culture in British society from the mid-1920s to the 1950s through records documenting Rothwell’s personal art and writing, and physical culture careers. This collection comprises writings and notes, newspaper clippings, photographs, personal correspondence, and other printed material and ephemera.
Extent: 6 Boxes: 115 folders, 4 Mapcase items, (1899-1998)
Language: English
Repository: The H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Note

Stanley Hallum Rothwell was born on December 28th, 1904 in Wigan, Lancashire, England to William Henry and Sarah Jane Rothwell. He had two brothers, Bill and Charlie. Rothwell spent his early years in the mining towns of Wigan and Ashton-in-Makersfield. As a child, a mistreated ear infection caused him to lose hearing in one ear. In his personal writings, Rothwell lists this disability as a central cause for his poor school performance and eventual interest in physical fitness. He worked as a miner in Wigan, England for ten years before moving to London in 1928 with his brother, Charlie. In London, he initially became a manual laborer, which helped him to cultivate the strength and fitness that would lead him to bodybuilding. Rothwell became a model for fitness magazines, photographers, and artists, and was sought-after by sculptors such as C. Sargeant Jagger and Josephina de Vasconcellos. During this time, Rothwell also performed in the Quo Vadis Brothers vaudeville fitness act with his brother Charlie.

In the years after his career as a fitness model, Rothwell worked as a physical education instructor at various institutions such as the LCC College of Physical Education (1941-1943), as well as with a number of camps, including London Federation of Boy’s Clubs, The Knights’ Club for Boys, and The Christ Camp United Club. He kept extensive notes and drawings on and of the exercises he choreographed for his pupils. In late 1938, after being approached by Neville O’Brien, Rothwell attached his name to The Rothwell Chest Expander, a piece of fitness exercise equipment.

Though Rothwell was unable to fight in World War II because of his hearing disability, he served in the British Civil Defence Light Rescue, in addition to training fighter pilots in physical fitness in Lambeth, England from 1939 to 1945. During his time in London, and later in the Civil Defence, Rothwell became a painter. He worked as a visual artist throughout his life.

Rothwell was also an aspiring writer, and, most notably, wrote two books, The Roads That Lead From Wigan Pier, about miners in his hometown of Wigan, and Lambeth at War, about his experience in the Civil Defence. Rothwell continued to study the plight of miners and laborers in England throughout his life. The Roads that Lead From Wigan Pier remains unpublished but exists in both handwritten and typed manuscript form in this collection. He began his second book, Lambeth at War, during the 1940s, but it was not published until shortly before his death in the mid-1980s. Rothwell wrote screenplays, autobiographical sketches, and essays on subjects ranging from physical strength to philosophy, many of which he sent to media outlets for their consideration. He was consulted for television and movie documentaries, particularly on the subject of Civil Defence.

Stanley Rothwell married Cecilia Eliza Rothwell (nee Hart), a shop assistant, and together they had three children, including Bill Rothwell, the eventual donor of his collection. Throughout his later life, Rothwell corresponded with a number of close friends he knew from fitness modeling, including Joe Assirati, Harry Reeves, Charles Smith, and Raymond Van Cleef. Henry Reeves and Rothwell had been friends since the 1940s and their correspondence spanned decades. Topics of discussion range from their shared past and former friends to philosophical thoughts and ideas. Raymond Van Cleef was the managing editor of Health & Strength during the 40s, which Rothwell contributed to often in the form of reader comments and articles. Van Cleef and Rothwell maintained a personal relationship, and Van Cleef wrote to Rothwell about his family and included photos of his family in many of his letters. He also reconnected with Charles Smith and Joe Assirati in 1986. Smith, once a model, had become a researcher at the University of Texas at Austin and encouraged Rothwell to donate his materials to the University.

Rothwell remained in London, where he wrote and continued to be active in the Labour Party and with various political issues, until his death in 1986, months after the loss of his wife. He was survived by his son, Bill Rothwell.

Scope and Content

6 Boxes: 115 folders, 4 Map Case Items, (1899-1998).

This collection includes materials pertaining to Stanley Rothwell’s professional career as a bodybuilder, fitness model, and physical educator; his personal correspondence with fellow models; professional photographs of Rothwell and his peers; personal photographs; extensive writings on health, fitness, philosophy, and his personal history; and his collection of press clippings and ephemera on physical culture, mining, politics, and entertainment. The materials date from his wife’s, Celia Rothwell, birth certificate from 1899, to posthumous material from Bill Rothwell in 1998.

Throughout the collection, professional correspondence for his physical education and fitness modeling careers are housed separately from his personal correspondence between friends Joe Assirati, Henry Reeves, Raymond Van Cleef, Charles Smith; assorted acquaintances; members of government; and members of the media. Rothwell corresponded about health and fitness, memories of Pre-War London, and daily life with his personal correspondents, and was an outspoken member of the Labour Party.

Rothwell’s professional career is particularly well-documented in photographs; advertisements for his vaudeville act and chest expander; in correspondence and photographs related to his work as an artist’s model; and in correspondence and hand-written exercises created by Rothwell for boys’ camps and recreational courses.

Rothwell’s photograph collection includes professional and candid photographs of Rothwell and his peers in their 20s and 30s, in addition to later family photographs, photographs documenting Rothwell’s time as a miner, Civil Defence member, and painter. The photographs also include unidentified group shots and candid shots. Photographs date from 1933 until 1981, though many are undated.

Rothwell’s collection of writings includes essays on physical prowess, war, philosophical ideals, and religion. The collection also contains unfinished notes on the same subjects, including quotations from literature, and songs. In addition to Rothwell’s manuscripts for his two completed books, The Roads that Lead From Wigan Pier and Lambeth at War, respectively based on his personal history as a miner and Civil Defence worker, the collection contains several unfinished manuscripts: “Living in an Hostile World,” “Man in the Moon,” “Searching for an Ideal in an Hostile World,” and a thesis related to Dr. Cecil Hamilton.

A short series of miscellanea contains ephemera, unidentified personal documents and correspondence, currency, business cards, and art.



Access to the Stanley Rothwell Collection is restricted to visitors of the H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports. No digital copies are currently available. The Stark Center welcomes access inquires and encourages research appointments. For more information, phone (512) 471-4890, email, or visit

Restrictions on Use

The Stark Center retains the right to limit the use of the Rothwell Papers under certain conditions. No copies of any materials in the collection may be made without permission.


The user is cautioned that the publication of any of the contents of this collection may be construed as constituting a violation of literary property rights. These rights derive from the principle of common law, affirmed in the 1976 copyright act, that the writer of an unpublished letter or other manuscript has the sole right to publish the contents thereof for the duration of the copyright. Unless he or she affirmatively parts with that right, the right descends to his or her legal heirs regardless of the ownership of the physical manuscript itself. It is the responsibility of an author or his publisher to secure permission of the owner of literary property rights in unpublished writing. This material may be protected by copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code).

Right To Privacy: Sensitive Materials Statement

Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the H.J. Lutcher Stark Center and the University of Texas at Austin assumes no responsibility.

Subject Index

Key Terms
Physical Culture
Physical Fitness
Key Names
Quo Vadis Bros
Reeves, Henry
Rothwell, Stanley
Smith, Charles
Van Cleef, Ray
The Bodybuilder
Health & Efficiency
Health & Strength
Muscle Power
The Sporting Arena
Strength &Health
Wrestling World
Your Physique

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

The Stanley Rothwell Papers, H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports, The University of Texas at Austin. [There is no space between H. & J.]

Processing Info

The collection was processed in 2014 by Emma Martin and Megan Carey under the supervision of Brent Sipes. For information about the content of the collection, please write
or call 512-471-0991.

Text converted and EAD tagging provided by:

Emma Martin and Megan Carey under the supervision of Brent Sipes, 2014

Container List

Athletic Career, 1933-1980, undated
9 folders

Map-case Drawer
MMC 2 Fitness Ventures: Chest Expander advertisement undated
Box Folder
1 1 Fitness Ventures: Chest Expander related Documents 1938
Map-case Drawer
MMC 2 Fitness Ventures: Chalton Street Ring Boxing advertisement undated
2 Fitness Ventures: The Quo Vadis Bros. advertisements undated
2 Items
Box Folder
1 2 Physical Education: Correspondence - Boys’ Clubs & Camps 1937-1957
3 Physical Education: Correspondence - Other physical education 1933-1957, undated
4 Physical Education: Educational materials 1943-1948, undated
5 Physical Education: Exercises by Rothwell undated
6 Physical Education: Exercise Documents 1938-1941, undated
7 Physical Education: Exercise Documents 1938-1941, undated
8 Physical Education: Fitness-related clippings ca.1960-1980
9 Physical Education: Memberships - Athletic clubs 1928-1958

Magazines, 1931-1960, undated
13 folders

Box1 Folder
10 The Bodybuilder 3/1953
Box Folder
1 11 Fragments 1936, undated
12 Health & Efficiency 2/1935
13 Health & Strength 1933-1948
14 Muscle Power 1950
15 Sporting Arena, The 1935-1936
16 Strength 1927-1928
17 Strength & Health 1940-1943
18 Superman 1931-1932
19 Superman 1932-1933
20 Superman 1933-1937
21 Wrestling World ca 1961
22 Your Physique 9/1950

Modeling career, 1933-1985, undated
7 folders

Box Folder
2 23 Clippings (copies) undated
24 Correspondence: Incoming 1934-1945
25 C. Sargeant and David Jagger (sculptors): Book - Modeling and Sculpture 1947
26 C. Sargeant and David Jagger (sculptors): Correspondence 1933, undated
27 C. Sargeant and David Jagger (sculptors): Publicity 1976-1985 undated
28 Membership: Fine art and modeling clubs 1933-1970
29 Josephina de Vasconcellos (Banner): Correspondence 1938-1985, undated

Personal Correspondence, 1930-1986, undated
19 folders

Box Folder
2 30 In-letters: Assirati, Joe 1986
31 In-letters: Health & Strength 1946-1952
32 In-letters: Parliament 1957-1984
33 In-letters: Reeves, Henry 1952-1960
34 In-letters: Reeves, Henry 1980-1981
35 In-letters: Reeves, Henry 1982
36 In-letters: Reeves, Henry 1983
37 In-letters: Reeves, Henry 1984
38 In-letters: Reeves, Henry 1985
39 In-letters: Reeves, Henry 1986
40 In-letters: Reeves, Henry undated
41 In-letters: Smith, Charles 1986
42 In-letters: Van Cleef, Ray 1947-1964
43 In-letters: Wheeler, Charles 1966-1917, undated
44 In-letters: Miscellaneous 1930-1949
45 In-letters: Miscellaneous 1950-1969
46 In-letters: Miscellaneous 1970-1986
47 In-letters: Miscellaneous undated
48 Out-letters 1944-1986

Photographs, 1933-1981, undated
20 folders

Box Folder
3 49 Artist’s Modeling 1933-1979
50 Artist’s Modeling undated
51 Artist’s Modeling undated
52 Assorted photos of Rothwell 1948, undated
53 Assorted photos of Rothwell undated
54 Candids undated
54a Candids undated
55 Candids undated
56 Candids undated
57 Candids undated
58 Candids - Scrapbook undated
59 Candids - Scrapbook undated
60 Josephina de Vasconcellos (Banner) 1955, undated
61 C. Sargeant and David Jagger 1976-1981, undated
62 Military 1927-1945
63 Mining undated
64 Miscellaneous undated
65 Miscellaneous undated
66 Miscellaneous undated
67 Negatives undated
68 Professional Modeling 1927-1946, undated

Bill Rothwell, 1899-1998, undated
3 folders

Box Folder
3 69 In-letters 986-1987, undated
70 Out-Letters 1998
71 Parents’ Documents 1899, 1905, undated

Writings, 1927-1986, undated
37 folders

Box Folder
4 72 Essays: 1927-1946 1927-1946
73 Essays: 1950-1959 1950-1959
74 Essays: 1960-1969 1960-1969
75 Essays: 1971-1986 1971-1986
76 Fitness and Health: circa 1950s-1970s undated
77 Lambeth at War: Civil Defence Correspondence and Documents 1941-1952
78 Lambeth at War: Correspondence - Incoming 1981-1985
79 Lambeth at War: Manuscripts undated
80 Lambeth at War: Manuscripts “The Gentle Touch" undated
81 Lambeth at War: Newspaper clippings 1959-198, undated
82 Lambeth at War: Notes 1940-1942, 1981, undated
83 Notes: Notebooks undated
84 Notes: Notebooks undated
85 Notes: Notebooks undated
86 Notes: Notebooks undated
87 Notes: Songs and poems undated
88 Notes: Titled undated
89 Notes: Titled undated
Box Folder
5 90 Notes: Titled undated
91 Notes: Titled undated
92 Notes: Untitled undated
93 Notes: Untitled undated
94 Notes: Untitled undated
95 Notes: Untitled undated
96 Notes: Untitled undated
97 Notes: Untitled undated
98 The Roads That Lead from Wigan Pier: Correspondence 1936-1937
99 The Roads That Lead from Wigan Pier: Manuscripts undated
100 The Roads That Lead from Wigan Pier: Manuscripts undated
101 The Roads That Lead from Wigan Pier: Newspaper clippings 1934, 1979
102 The Roads That Lead from Wigan Pier: Notes undated
103 Unfinished Manuscripts: “Living in an Hostile World undated
104 Unfinished Manuscripts: “Living in an Hostile World undated
105 Unfinished Manuscripts: “Living in an Hostile World undated
106 Unfinished Manuscripts: “Man in the Moon 1940
Box Folder
6 107 Unfinished Manuscripts: “Searching for an Ideal in an Hostile World undated
108 Unfinished Manuscripts: Thesis on Dr. Cecil Hamilton [notes, clippings] undated

Miscellaneous, ca. 1940 - ca. 1980, undated
7 folders

Box Folder
6 109 Art 1940-1949, undated
110 Business cards undated
111 Clippings 1960 s- ca. 1980
112 Correspondence 1940
113 Currency and receipts undated
114 Ephemera undated
115 Ephemera undated