Benjamin Franklin Fisher papers, 1963-2001, bulk 1967-2001

Navigate the Collection

Using These Materials Teaser

Using These Materials Links:

Using These Materials

Collection is restricted. The majority of the Correspondence Series is restricted until 2025; the remaining portion is closed until 2050. Collection also contains sensitive information. Patrons...
More about accessing and using these materials...


Fisher, Benjamin Franklin
1.6 Linear Feet
circa 1006 Items
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

The papers of Benjamin Franklin Fisher IV, an American literature scholar, editor, and teacher, span the years 1963 to 2001, with the bulk dated from 1963 to 2001. The Fisher Papers consist of correspondence and printed materials that primarily document Fisher's and his Duke University advisors' educational and career trajectories. These materials also provide insight into various scholars' recent contributions to Poe studies, as well as information on the general activities of, and Fisher's leadership roles in, several of the professional organizations of which Fisher was a member. These organizations especially include those devoted to the study of Edgar Allan Poe.

The Correspondence Series, 1963-2001 (bulk 1967-2001) consists of letters between Fisher and other scholars of American literature from 1963 to 2001, with the bulk dated 1967-2001. Much of the correspondence mingles professional exchanges with personal inquiries and salutations. Included are many of the prominent names in Edgar Allan Poe scholarship, including Richard Benton, David K. Jackson, Burton Pollin, Richard Kopley, Alexander G. Rose, and G. R. "Dick" Thompson. The collection also contains Fisher's correspondence with Duke faculty members Arlin Turner, Clarence Gohdes, and Jay B. Hubbell, beginning in Fisher's graduate student years and continuing until their deaths. Much of Fisher's correspondence includes manuscript evaluations, both casually for colleagues and professionally for publishers or editors. Also included are Fisher's files regarding conferences, especially records of the Edgar Allan Poe Society's Annual Speakers Series, for which Fisher served as chairman. Much of the correspondence with individuals provides information on the activities of this and other organizations to which Fisher belonged, especially the Poe Studies Association. A significant portion of correspondence from 1999 to 2001 is print-outs of electronic mail.

The Printed Material Series, 1978-1982 includes a copy of the April/June 1978 issue of Serials Review, which features a history of American Literature, a journal published at Duke. The article praises AL's three editors Jay B. Hubbell, Arlin Turner, and Clarence Gohdes, who also served as Fisher's mentors at Duke. Tributes to Turner can also be found in the 1981 issue of South Atlantic Quarterly and in the first of two volumes of University of Mississippi Studies in English (USME) found in this collection. In addition to Fisher's tribute to Turner, the first volume of USME also contains Fisher's review of Turner's 1980 book Nathaniel Hawthorne: A Biography. Volume 3 (1982) of the UMSE is entitled "Poe-purri," and includes Fisher's essay "A Ten-Year Shelf of Poe Books." This series also includes two 1982 Edgar Allan Poe Society publications written by Alexander Rose, who had served as the organization's president from 1969-1976. The first volume, History of the Edgar Allan Poe Society, is largely in narrative form. It is accompanied by a second volume of minutes and annual reports from which the history was drawn.

This collection is part of the Jay B. Hubbell Center for American Literary Historiography. Related materials may be found in other Hubbell Center collections, including the Jay B. Hubbell Papers, Arlin Turner Papers, Clarence Gohdes Papers, Poe Studies Association Records, and the Modern Language Association, American Literature Section Papers.

Biographical / historical:

Benjamin Franklin Fisher IV received his M.A. and Ph. D. degrees from the English Department at Duke University in 1963 and 1969, respectively. Fisher, an Edgar Allan Poe scholar, has published multiple books on the writer, including The Very Spirit of Cordiality: The Literary Uses of Alcohol and Alcoholism in the Tales of Edgar Allan Poe in 1978, Poe and Our Times: Influences and Affinities in 1986, and Poe and His Times: The Artist in His Milieu in 1990. In 1993, Fisher was awarded a Governor's Citation from the State of Maryland for his contributions to Poe studies. Fisher is also the author and editor of numerous other books and articles on Gothic and Victorian Literature, especially the works of Mary Wilkins Freeman, Frederick Irving Anderson, Edith Wharton, Stephen Crane and Frank Norris. He served on the faculties of the University of Pennsylvania and Hahnemann Medical College before joining the English Department of the University of Mississippi in 1979.

Fisher has been active in the leadership of numerous literary societies and professional organizations, including the Poe Studies Association, which awarded him Honorary Membership for his service. He has also been active in the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore, the Tennyson Society, William Gilmore Simms Society, Nathaniel Hawthorne Society, Frank Norris Society and the (A.E.) Housman Society. Fisher served as Secretary-Treasurer for the American Literature Section of the Modern Language Society (MLA) and as an Executive Committee member of the South Central MLA (SCMLA). In addition to serving as editor of the University of Mississippi Studies in English from 1979 to 1995, Fisher also serves on the editorial boards of Poe Studies, Victorian Poetry, English Literature in Transition, American Humor Studies, Gothic Studies, and the Simms Review.

Acquisition information:
The Benjamin Franklin Fisher Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library as gifts in 1981-2000.
Processing information:

Processed by Cat Saleeby

Completed August 2002

Encoded by Cat Saleeby

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


Using These Materials

Using These Materials Links:

Using These Materials


Collection is restricted.

The majority of the Correspondence Series is restricted until 2025; the remaining portion is closed until 2050.

Collection also contains sensitive information. Patrons must sign a waiver concerning privacy rights.

In addition, all or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in the Duke University Library Service Center. There may be a 48-hour delay in obtaining these materials.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

Terms of access:

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Before you visit:
Please consult our up-to-date information for visitors page, as our services and guidelines periodically change.
Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Benjamin Franklin Fisher Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.