Gay Wilson Allen papers, 1801-1988
Using These Materials
- Collection is open for research.
- Allen, Gay Wilson, 1903-1995
- Gay Wailson Allen (1903-1995) was a university professor, author, and Walt Whitman scholar. Collection consists of correspondence, notebooks, printed material, essays, and other writings, literary manuscripts, scrapbooks, teaching materials, pictures, books, clippings, offprints, periodicals, and sale catalogs. The focus of the collection is Allen's career as an university professor and Walt Whitman scholar. In particular Allen's activities as a professor at New York University and as a lecturer at Nagono, Japan in 1955, are documented. The history of Whitman criticism is an important theme. There is a large amount of research material on Whitman, both of Allen and other literary scholars. These include Evie Allison Allen, Clara Barrus, Charles N. Elliot, Clifton Joseph Furness, Emory Holloway, Peter Mitilineos, Hans Reisiger, and Henry Scholey Saunders. The Correspondence Series contains original correspondence acquired by Allen of Richard Watson Gilder, Alice James, and William James. This series also contains the correspondence of Roger Asselineau, Fredson Bowers, Oscar Cargill, Malcolm Cowley, Charles E. Feinberg, Milton Hindus, Emory Holloway, Sholom Kahn, and Frederik Schyberg. There are no strictly personal papers in the collection.
33 Linear Feet
- Collection ID:
- Scope and Content:
The Gay Wilson Allen Papers span the years 1801 to 1988, but the bulk of the collection occurs during the years 1925 to the 1970s. They consist of correspondence, notebooks, printed material, essays and other writings, literary manuscripts, scrapbooks, teaching materials, pictures, books, clippings, offprints, periodicals, and sale catalogs. The focus of the collection is Allen's career as a university professor and Walt Whitman scholar. In particular Allen's activities as a professor at New York University and as a lecturer at Nagono, Japan in 1955, are documented. The history of Whitman criticism is an important theme. There is a large amount of research material on Whitman, both of Allen and other literary scholars. These include Evie Allison Allen, Clara Barrus, Charles N. Elliot, Clifton Joseph Furness, Emory Holloway, Peter Mitilineos, Hans Reisiger, and Henry Scholey Saunders. The Correspondence Series contains original correspondence acquired by Allen of Richard Watson Gilder, Alice James, and William James. This series also contains the correspondence of Roger Asselineau, Fredson Bowers, Oscar Cargill, Malcolm Cowley, Charles E. Feinberg, Milton Hindus, Emory Holloway, Sholom Kahn, and Frederik Schyberg. There are no strictly personal papers in the collection.
Allen's career, both as a professor and Whitman scholar, is documented in several series. The Walt Whitman Materials Series and the Scrapbooks Series relate to his Whitman research. In the former series the Commemorations and Societies Subseries and the Popular Culture Subseries also document the ever increasing interest in Whitman's life and works during the twentieth century. The Correspondence Subseries and the Pictures Subseries contain copies of letters and pictures relating to Whitman and his age. The Correspondence Series also contains extensive letters concerning Allen's early teaching career, his dealings with several presses, and the marketing and reception of his The Solitary Singer, a Whitman biography.
The papers of six Whitman scholars are in the Walt Whitman Scholars Series. It suggests the international range both of Whitman scholarship and of Allen's interests. In addition to the interest in Whitman she shared with her husband, Evie Allison Allen was also a skilled translator of Germanic languages. Charles N. Elliot and Emory Holloway, as well as Canadian Henry Scholey Saunders, were Whitman collector-scholars who interacted with both Allen and Furness. The late Peter Mitilineos was one of Allen's students and was particularly interested in the writings of Italian Whitman scholar Pasquale Jannacone. Professor and Mrs. Allen both had an interest in the writings of German Whitman scholar Hans Reisiger.
The Clifton Joseph Furness Papers Series documents the history of Whitman criticism from Whitman's day to the start of Allen's biography of Whitman, The Solitary Singer. Allen used some of Furness's research materials to write the book. The Clara Barrus Papers Subseries contains her research materials on the relationship between Whitman and John Burroughs. In fact Barrus was a close friend of Whitman's friends Burroughs and Thomas Biggs Harned. The subseries includes portions of Barrus's correspondence, her research materials, and the manuscript of her study of Whitman and Burroughs, entitled Whitman and Burroughs, Comrades. The Correspondence Subseries contains correspondence with a number of Whitman friends, scholars, and collectors. The Writings Subseries chiefly reflects the results of the information Furness collected on Whitman during the 1930s and 1940s. Furness began three major Whitman projects: a definitive biography, an extensive bibliography, and a study of his reception in New England, tentatively entitled "The Bull in the China Shop." None of these works were published during Furness's lifetime.
Collections in the Duke University. David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library related to the Gay Wilson Allen Papers include the American Literature Papers and the Trent Collection. Collections at other institutions related to the Gay Wilson Allen Papers include papers of Clara Barrus and Emory Holloway at the University of Virginia, papers of Henry Scholey Saunders at Brown University, and papers of Charles N. Elliot at the Library of Congress.
Provenance Note on the Clifton Joseph Furness Papers Series
Gay Wilson Allen acquired Clifton Joseph Furness's papers in 1948, but Furness had acquired some of Clara Barrus's papers shortly before her death in 1931. In turn Barrus, in her role as the literary executor of John Burroughs, had acquired some of Burroughs's papers in the years before his death in 1921. Apparently, Barrus had originally planned to write an extensive study of Whitman and his followers, based on materials found in her Research Files, but she apparently later decided to narrow its focus to a study of the relationship between Whitman and Burroughs. During Burroughs's last years she retyped some of his correspondence with Whitman and related figures, and in her own hand transcribed Burroughs's comments on each letter. With the help of Furness, Barrus published her last book, Whitman and Burroughs, Comrades in 1931. About that time, Furness acquired the materials found in the Clara Barrus Papers Subseries.
Furness was in close contact with other Whitman friends, scholars, and collectors, and spent years collecting information on Whitman. None of these projects were published during his lifetime.
In 1948, New York University professor Gay Wilson Allen was able to persuade the university to purchase for his use Furness's papers, which by now included papers from Barrus and Burroughs as well. David Goodale and Henry Scholey Saunders agreed to cooperate with Allen in the publication of Furness's Whitman bibliography. In about l951 Allen acquired Saunders's revised copy of the portion of Furness's Whitman bibliography concerned with "Biography and Criticism," Part 6 (of 11). After Furness's death Allen, with the help of some of the Furness Papers, wrote a Whitman biography, which eventually became The Solitary Singer.
- Biographical / Historical:
Gay Wilson Allen Date Event 1903, Aug. 23 Born, Lake Junaluska, N.C. 1926 A.B., Duke University 1928 A.M., Duke University 1929-1931 Teacher at Lake Erie College 1931-1932 Teacher at Alabama Polytechnic Institute 1934 Ph.D., University of Wisconsin 1934-1935 Associate Professor of English, Shurtlieff College 1935-1936 Professor of English, Bowling Green State University 1946- Professor/Professor Emeritus of English, New York University 1946 Walt Whitman Handbook published 1955 The Solitary Singer: Critical Biography of Walt Whitman published; U.S. State Department lecturer in Japan 1961 Walt Whitman as Man, Poet, and Legend published 1967 William James, A Biography published 1967-1969 Member of Editorial Board, American Literature published 1972 A Reader's Guide to Walt Whitman published 1981 Waldo Emerson published Clifton Joseph Furness Date Event 1898, Apr. 30 Born, Sheridan, Ind. 1919-1921 Teacher of music, Northwestern University 1921 A.B., Northwestern University 1922-1927 Teacher of music, Horace Mann School for Boys, New York City 1928 Walt Whitman's Workshop published; A.M., Harvard University 1928-1934 Teacher of English, Northeastern University (1928-1929), Bradford College (1929-1931), Harvard University Graduate School (1929-1934) 1929-1940 Teacher of Biography and Music, Katharine Gibbs Schools 1930- Director of Academic Studies, New England Conservatory of Music 1930-1931 Collaborated with Clara Barrus on Whitman and Burroughs, Comrades (1931) 1939 Editor, facsimile reprint of 1855 edition of Whitman's Leaves of Grass 1940s, mid Died
- Acquisition Information:
- The Gay Wilson Allen papers (1801-1988) were donated to the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library between 1985 and 1992 by Gay Wilson Allen.
- Processing information:
Processed by: Stanley Blair
Completed September 9, 1993
Encoded by Stephen Douglas Miller
- Physical Location:
- For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
- Rules or Conventions:
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Click on terms below to find related finding aids on this site. For other related materials in the Duke University Libraries, search for these terms in the Catalog.
American literature -- 20th century -- History and criticism
Cowley, Malcolm, 1898-
Cargill, Oscar, 1898-
Allen, Evie Allison
Whitman, Walt, 1819-1892 -- Criticism and interpretation
Saunders, Henry Scholey, 1864-
Holloway, Emory, 1885-1977
Gilder, Richard Watson, 1844-1909
Elliot, Charles N. (Charles Nathan), b. 1873
Furness, Clifton Joseph
Using These Materials
Collection is open for research.
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[Identification of item], The Gay Wilson Allen Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library