Collections : [David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library]

Back to top
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

The holdings of the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library range from ancient papyri to records of modern advertising. There are over 10,000 manuscript collections containing more than 20 million individual manuscript items. Only a portion of these collections and items are discoverable on this site. Others may be found in the library catalog.

Search Constraints

Start Over You searched for: Subject Authors, American -- 20th century -- Correspondence Remove constraint Subject: Authors, American -- 20th century -- Correspondence Format Color photographs Remove constraint Format: Color photographs Repository David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library Remove constraint Repository: David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Search Results

collection icon

Fred Chappell papers, 1944-2019 and undated 158 Linear Feet — 5.9 Gigabytes

The fully processed portion of the Fred Chappell Papers spans the dates 1960-1997, with the bulk being dated after 1970. There are several additions covering the years 1998 through 2015. The collection consists of correspondence; writings by Chappell and other authors; printed material (primarily serials containing stories, poems, and articles by Chappell but also clippings); legal and financial papers; speeches and addresses; interviews; and other material. Documents relate to Chappell's personal life and career, both as a student and writer at Duke University, where he studied under well-known creative writing teacher William Blackburn, and as a writer and professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNC-G). The collection documents the entire length and breadth of Chappell's multifaceted career, beginning with the years just after he completed his undergraduate studies at Duke and started his first novel at the urging of Hiram Haydn, an editor to whom Blackburn had introduced him. Letters, manuscripts, and notebooks provide insight into Chappell's developing literary career, his academic activities at UNC-G, and his growing involvement with a large network of writers, including a number of his former students. Many prominent American authors, especially Southern ones, are represented in the collection. Among the most frequent correspondents are Kelly Cherry, Grace DiSanto, George Garrett, Marianne Gingher, Dana Gioia, Donald Hall, Heather Ross Miller, Robert Morgan, Eve Shelnutt, and Dabney Stuart. Notebooks, manuscripts, typescripts, proofs, and printed material document the development of Chappell's career across all the genres in which he writes. Supporting material in non-print media, including photographs and audio and video cassettes of readings, document public aspects of his career.

The Correspondence Series, arranged chronologically in Incoming and Outgoing subseries, discloses the range of Chappell's interests and activities in the literary community. The letters not only provide a portrait of his development as a poet and novelist but also demonstrate his active roles in supporting the careers of other writers and promoting the literary community. These latter activities are documented by his numerous affirmative responses to a broad range of requests to read drafts of works-in-progress, write recommendations for other writers for grants and awards, write reviews and provide blurbs for new publications, serve as the judge of contests, speak at conferences and workshops, and serve in various advisory and editorial capacities for literary journals. The correspondence also provides much information about his teaching career and his legacy of students who develop successful careers of their own, such as Cherry, Miller, Morgan, and Shelnutt. The bulk of the outgoing correspondence dates to 1990 or after, when, at the request of the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Chappell began retaining copies of all outgoing correspondence.

The Writings by Chappell Series is divided into subseries by genres with the exception of one subseries based on format, the Notebooks Subseries. Since Chappell writes with relatively few hand corrections on any particular stage of his work, the development of an individual work is often apparent only by comparing various complete drafts in manuscripts, typescripts, and proofs. The notebooks are particularly valuable in this regard, providing what often appear to be the earliest versions of works. The notebooks also indicate the facility with which Chappell moves from one genre to another, as most of them are not devoted to a single work or genre but rather include poems, stories, novel fragments, essays, reviews, translations, and drafts of correspondence following one after the other. This versatility is further reflected by the Printed Materials Series, which contains extensive serials with Chappell's publications in multiple genres, especially fiction, poetry, and reviews. At the end of this series, the Clippings Subseries documents his public and critical reception with copies of reviews and essays about his work and publicity about it.

The Miscellaneous Series contains a variety of flyers, leaflets, newsletters, and examples of fan mail that further demonstrate his literary career. Prominent here are such items as the proofs for a 1990 symposium about his poetry and newsletters of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. It also contains two small subseries of audio and video cassettes of readings, interviews, and work by other authors.

The Writings by Others Series contains manuscripts from well-known contemporary writers, ex-students, and aspiring writers seeking advice. Chappell's reactions to the manuscripts are written on many of them, often as the first draft of a letter or requested recommendation. Most writers are represented by only one or two items, but Cherry and Shelnutt are both represented by more than a dozen pieces that, together with their frequent correspondence, outline the development of their respective careers.

Later additions to the collection include incoming and outgoing correspondence, drafts and writings of Chappell's poetry, honors and awards, and printed materials and publications featuring Chappell or his work. Most accessions include bound volumes as well as writings and manuscripts by other authors or poets. There are also some oversize materials, audiovisual materials, clippings, and photographs. These additions have been loosely sorted but have not been incorporated physically or intellectually into the originally processed collection. Please consult Research Services with questions about using these materials.

collection icon

The records of the Harriet Wasserman Literary Agency span the dates 1948-1993, with most of the records dating after 1974. The records dated prior to 1981, when the agency was formed, are those of writers who were Wasserman's clients when she was employed at the Russell and Volkening agency and stayed with her when she formed her own agency. The collection documents the careers of individual writers and in doing so indicates the varied activities of a major literary agency: preparation and submission of manuscripts, negotiation of contracts, handling of foreign and reprint rights, publicity, and the differing ways affairs are handled for lesser known or beginning writers and for major authors. Among the more prominent American fiction writers included are Richard Bausch, Saul Bellow, Frederick Buechner, Oscar Hijuelos, Josephine Humphreys, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Alice McDermott, and Reynolds Price. In addition, records about historian George F. Kennan and philosopher and historian Allan Bloom are included. The correspondence is primarily about professional matters, although some sense of the personal relationships between the agent and the more prominent clients can be gleaned.

By far, the Bellow papers comprise the largest group relating to any single author, and cover the longest span of years, from 1948 to 1993. There are relatively few papers from 1948 to 1972, but those present contain a few personal letters to Bellow from his contemporaries such as the novelists Ralph Ellison and Wright Morris. The bulk of the Bellow papers date from 1973, and convey a clear impression of the activity surrounding his increasing fame, particularly with the publication of Humboldt's Gift, the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for that novel, and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1976. After that date his later career is sketched in detail and follows from inception through publication such works as The Dean's December, More Die of Heartbreak, and It All Adds Up.

The collection includes, in smaller amounts, material about the careers of other authors. In the current accession, the Bausch and Jhabvala papers are particularly rich among the fiction writers. Bausch's career is outlined from his breaking into the profession in the mid-1970s to his establishment as a major author by the late 1980s. Jhabvala's papers pick up in mid-career, when she has already published several novels and won the Booker Prize in England, but prior to her growing fame as a screenwriter for Merchant Ivory Productions. Her correspondence also includes a number of letters from director James Ivory and producer Ismail Merchant, particularly relating to the development of the film The Autobiography of a Princess (1975) and the accompanying photography book of the same name.

Of special note are the records about Reynolds Price and Josephine Humphreys. While the HWLA collection contains some unique items about these writers, especially Price, scholars should be aware that the Library is also the primary repository for the personal papers of these writers. Much more information is available in their respective collections.

Among non-fiction writers in the current (1995) accession, the papers of historian George F. Kennan and philosopher Allan Bloom document their careers in the 1980s. Most of the Bloom papers relate to the publicity surrounding the publication of The Closing of the American Mind, particularly reviews and speaking engagements. The Kennan material is more varied, including not only Wasserman's correspondence on Kennan's behalf, but several dozen lengthy letters from Kennan to Wasserman and others.

The 1999 addition (accession #1999-0275) (19,500 items, 32.5 lin. ft.; dated 1974-1999 and undated) expands on all of the collection series, especially materials related to Saul Bellow.

The 2001 addition (accession #2001-0050) (816 items, 12 lin. ft.; dated 1974-2000 and undated) includes book manuscripts, galley proofs (some inscribed), correspondence, notes, and other materials relating to the authors represented by the literary agency. Other materials include sixty-four black-and-white photographs, one black-and-white negative, four color photographs, and one audiocassette tape. Authors included in this addition are Richard Bausch, Jay Williams, Suzi-Lori Parks, Laurel Lee, Karla Kuskin, Elinore Clark, Perrin Ireland, Frederick Buechner, John Tyler Bonner, Martha Moody, Eugene Walter, Caroline Winthrop, Paul Lussier, Sharon Flake, Reynolds Price, Josephine Humphreys, Saul Bellow, George Dawson and Richard Glaubman, Julia Markus, George F. Kennan, Carole L. Glickfeld, Mark Winegardner, Michael Stewart, Diane Vreuls, Sandra Gould Ford, Charles McPhee, Mark Smith, and Harriet Wasserman herself.

The second 2001 addition (accession #2001-0115) (5 items, .1 linear feet; dated 1978-2001, bulk 1997-2001) contains correspondence between Wasserman and Shelley Gruskin. It also includes a playbill for performances of In Dreams Begin Responsibilities and Gimpel the Fool, signed by actor David Marguiles and a copy of Delmore Schwartz's In Dreams Begin Responsibilities and Other Stories. Both book and playbill are mentioned in the correspondence.

The 2003 addition (accession #2003-0051)(12,500 items, 30 linear feet, dated 1982-2000) consists chiefly of client files (correspondence, contracts, financial records, etc.), manuscripts and proofs of books by clients, published versions of books by clients, and related materials. Includes especially significant material for Saul Bellow and a few other authors, including Oscar Hijuelos and George Frost Kennan.

Addition (08-004) (18,000 items; 24 lin. ft.; dated 1984-2006) consists chiefly of client files (correspondence, contracts, financial records, etc.), manuscripts and proofs of books by clients, published versions clients, and related materials. Includes especially significant material for Saul Bellow and a few other authors, including Oscar Hijuelos and George Frost Kennan.

Addition (08-078) (8 items; .2 lin. ft.; dated 1984-2000) includes writing samples for agency authors, as well as literary award kits and publications.

Addition (12-008) (2250 items; 3.0 lin. ft.; dated 1972-2003) consists of agency files about author Reynolds Price, including general correspondence, contracts, book reviews, and other related materials.

collection icon

Josephine Humphreys papers, 1946-1993 and undated 27.7 Linear Feet — 11,900 Items

The collection documents Humphreys' professional life as an author. It contains correspondence between Humphreys and other writers and editors; business contracts with Viking Press and others for her publications and for movie rights; handwritten and typed manuscripts and proofs for her books Dreams of Sleep, Rich in Love, and Fireman's Fair, as well as typescripts of works by other authors (including Robb Forman Dew and Louise Erdrich); reviews of her own work as well as reviews written by Humphreys of others' works; and information detailing her speaking engagements and interviews. In addition, the collection contains clippings of reviews and interviews, photographs and negatives (16 black-and-white, 4 color, and 23 negatives); audiotapes from a "Women in Literature" series in which Humphreys participated; and 10 electronic files of book manuscripts, especially Dreams of Sleep, originally on computer disks and now migrated to the electronic records server. Also included are books inscribed to Humphreys and seven scrapbooks containing additional correspondence regarding her work as well as reviews.

collection icon

Kathy Acker papers, 1972-1997 and undated 21.0 Linear Feet — 0.03 Gigabytes

The papers of Kathy Acker, 1975-1996 and undated, are comprised, for the most part, of manuscript drafts of her novels, short stories, and other miscellaneous writings ranging from early works such as The Childlike Life of the Black Tarantula (1975) to her last novel Pussy, King of the Pirates (1996). Described as a cyberpunk author and performance artist, Acker's novels question the strictures of female sexuality and the power of language.

collection icon

Reynolds Price papers, 1880-2014 and undated 151 Linear Feet — 1 Gigabyte — 1,300 document (MS Word and text formats) and digital image files; approximately 1 gigabytes. — 354 boxes

Reynolds Price (1933-2011) was a novelist, short story writer, poet, dramatist, essayist, translator, and James B. Duke Professor of English at Duke University, where he taught creative writing and literature beginning in 1958. He was an alumnus of Duke and of Oxford University, which he attended on a Rhodes Scholarship. He received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and his books were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. The collection is comprised of correspondence, writings, serials, clippings, speeches, interviews, legal and financial papers, photographs, audiovisual materials, and digital materials reflecting Price's career and personal life. Personal and professional correspondence document his education at Duke University, especially his studies under William Blackburn; his period abroad as a Rhodes Scholar at Merton College, Oxford; and his literary work and interaction with other authors, including Stephen Spender, Eudora Welty, and Allan Gurganus. Writings include manuscripts, typescripts, proofs, outlines, and notes produced in the creation and publication of all his major works, including: A Long and Happy Life; Kate Vaiden; A Palpable God; Clear Pictures; A Whole New Life; The Collected Stories; The Collected Poems; A Letter to a Godchild; Ardent Spirits; The Good Priest's Son, and many other books, individual stories, poems, and essays.

The (1) Correspondence Series is divided into the Correspondence, chronological subseries and the Correspondence, alphabetical by name subseries. The chronological correspondence subseries consists of letters to and from family, friends, teachers, and admirers of Price's work. The alphabetical correspondence subseries comprises correspondence between Price and other writers, literary figures, celebrities, and close friends including Eudora Welty and Stephen Spender. The (2) Writings Series contains various writings by Price and is divided into the Books, Scribner's Files, Uncollected Fiction and Nonfiction, Price Writing in Serials, Reviews by Price, Addresses and Speeches, and Audiovisual Recordings of Price Regarding Writing subseries. The Books subseries is composed chiefly of drafts, typescripts, and proofs of Price's novels, plays, autobiographical works, and volumes of poetry.

The (3) Events Series contains materials documenting Price's achievements, his education, and performances of his dramatic work and his speaking engagements, as well as performances, and presentations of interest to Price. The (4) Personal Papers Series has expanded significantly following the author's death. The Series contains many of the books, letters, art and photographs kept in his home, including personal health and financial records. The Series also includes personal scrapbooks, his postcard collection, and a collection of family home movies. Price's teaching career in the Duke University English Department is documented by the (5) Duke University Series. And manuscripts sent to Price by fellow authors and students make up the (6) Writings by Others Series.

collection icon

Primarily correspondence between Roma Blackburn and literary personages, including former students of her husband, William Maxwell Blackburn, professor at Duke University. Also includes poem by Rose Styron, clippings about the poet Elizabeth Bishop, and a program from Bishop's memorial service. One volume, Heart and Home: A Memoir, was written by Mrs. Blackburn. Correspondence includes: letters and postcards from Elizabeth Bishop discussing travels, intellectual life, and literary interests; letters from William Styron discussing fund-raising in memory of Professor William Blackburn for the Duke University Capital Campaign for the Arts and Sciences; letters from Alice Methfessel, close friend of Elizabeth Bishop; and letters from Professor Blackburn's former students Sean Devereaux, Guy Davenport, and Josephine Humphreys Hutcheson. (1964-1984) (46 items) (.2 linear feet)

This addition (218 items, 1942-1985) includes letters to Blackburn from Reynolds Price and Wallace Fowlie and others regarding invitations, travel plans, news, and condolences; material related to the William Blackburn Fund; correspondence from Blackburn's summers in Magog; a story by Max Steele; 23 manuscript pages of Blackburn's autobiography; copies of tributes to William Blackburn from William Styron and Max Steele as well as statistics on the number of students he taught; and photographs (61 black-and-white prints, 4 color prints, 1 color slide, and 2 black-and-white negatives) of Tennessee Williams, Fred Chappell, William Styron, Sean Devereaux, Wallace Fowlie, and William Blackburn as well as other family members. An unidentified audio tape is included. (.6 linear feet) (acc#01-0036)

Addition (2012-0038) (0.4 lin. ft., 300 items) includes personal correspondence to Roma Blackburn from family members and others, clippings and photographs of William Blackburn, and a recording of William Styron reading from Lie Down in Darkness. Also included are writings and notes by William Blackburn mostly relating to his W.B. Yeats research.

collection icon

Will Inman papers, 1910-2009 69.5 Linear Feet — 42,754 Items

The correspondence, diaries, manuscripts, clippings, and printed material in the Will Inman Papers span from 1939-1999, and serve to document the life and literary career of the poet, essayist, editor, educator, and publisher.

Inman was a prolific corespondent and maintained regular correspondent relationships with his friends and family, as well as with his readers and other editors and authors. He also regularly wrote to political and social figures during the 1960s. These letters to public and political figures express admiration and voice concerns about political events and social conditions. Inman protested in favor of civil rights, ending the war in Vietnam, and various environmental causes, and his letters reflect his thoughts and opinions on these subjects. Inman was also in regular contact with the editors and publishers of various literary magazines and the letters to these individuals document his efforts to publish his work. The collection holds many of Inman's out going correspondence as he regularly kept copies of his own letters.

Inman's copious diaries provide almost daily detail of his life from 1950-1994. In his diaries Inman recorded daily events, poetic inspirations, and his responses to world events. The diaries also include information about the poetry he is working on and several include typescripts of completed poems.

Inman also kept detailed records concerning his completed writings. He kept typescript copies of his poems and other writings, ordering them chronologically into notebooks, and recording publication information onto the typescripts. In organizing this collection, Inman's notebooks were discarded, but the typescripts maintain the order they held while bound in the notebooks, and serve to provide a chronological overview of Inman's published and unpublished writings.

This collection also contains copies of several of the anthologies and literary magazines where Inman published his work and several of the poetic monographs that Inman authored.

Inman regularly published his early work in newspapers in North Carolina. The collection contains clippings of these early published works as well as clippings of Inman's mid 1960's newspaper column "Conchsounds in the Hills."

There are also photographs of the McGirt family from ca. 1910, chiefly mounted in albums, as well as Inman's baby book from 1923. (16 accessions from 1998 and 1999) (35,475 items, 59 linear feet; dated 1910-1999)

The addition (accession #2001-0195) (1676 items, 2.7 linear feet; dated 1940-2001, bulk 1976-2001) comprises mainly personal correspondence to and from Inman and Jimmy Santiago Baca, 1971-1995, including typescript poetry. It also includes typescript poetry by Inman as Bill McGirt, 1940-1956; other poetry by Inman; professional correspondence; and a journal kept by Inman, 2000-2001.

The addition (accession #2002-0143) (2250 items, 3.60 linear feet; dated 1982-2001) consists primarily of incoming and outgoing personal correspondence. Topics include Inman's poems, publication work, and his political activites. There is also poetry and prose by Inman and others, and 20 black-and-white and 148 color photographs.

The addition (accession# 2003-0124 and 2003-0181)(2775 items, 3.6 linear feet; dated 1957-2003, bulk 1970-1989) contains published and unpublished typescript poetry written by Will Inman. Also includes literary newsletters, periodicals and brochures; a notebook containing poetry, biographical information and professional correspondence; and a paperweight.

Addition (2009-0263) (500 items, 0.6 lin. ft.; dated 1976-2009) includes correspondence, poetry by Inman and others, press releases and reviews, official documents (such as his birth certificate, insurance information, and medical documents), and materials from Inman's death and funeral.