University of Delaware Library

Special Collections


A Manuscript Sampler

Twentieth Century Literature

The University of Delaware Library's holdings in twentieth-century literature are internationally renowned and are consulted daily by students and scholars from throughout the world. Printed holdings include strong collections of the work of a wide range of twentieth-century authors, runs of little magazines, and the publications of small and independent literary presses. Of particular interest are the Library's holdings in twentieth-century poetry and in contemporary Irish literature.

Special Collections houses the manuscripts and papers of numerous authors, including David T. Bazelon, Paul Bowles, John Malcolm Brinnin, Joseph Caldwell, Brian Coffey, Emily Coleman, Cid Corman, Alice Dunbar Nelson, Edward Field, Mark Harris, Katherine Hoskins, Elizabeth Jennings, Donald Justice, Hugh MacDiarmid, George Moore, Ulick O'Connor, Ishmael Reed, Gilbert Sorrentino, W. D. Snodgrass, and Louis Untermeyer. Strong collections of manuscripts, correspondence, and papers are also present for such authors as Djuna Barnes, Kay Boyle, Alfred Chester, James T. Farrell, Charles Henri Ford, Kimon Friar, Jane Heap, Ernest Hemingway, James Leo Herlihy, Rudi Holzapfel, Charles Johnson, Seymour Lawrence, Thomas MacGreevey, Sean O'Faolain, Toby Olson, Carl Sandburg, George Bernard Shaw, Julian Symons, Kurt Vonnegut, Tennessee Williams, William Carlos Williams, W. B. Yeats, and many other twentieth century literary figures. Special Collections also houses archives of little magazines, such as Chanticleer, Pagany, and Signatures, and of small and independent presses, notably Peter Owen, the Pentagram Press, the Proscenium Press, and the Raven Arts Press, all of whom have made important contributions to twentieth-century literary publishing.


Sinclair Lewis, 1885-1951.
Typed letter signed to "Mr. Meconnohey," 17 November 1931, 1 p.

Typed letter signed, to J. John Munson, 16 May 1934, 1 p.

In these two short responses to what are presumably fan letters, Sinclair Lewis comments on his novels Arrowsmith and Main Street.


Archibald MacLeish, 1892-1982.
Typed letter signed, to Basil Burwell, 9 April 1937, 1 p.

In this letter, the poet Archibald Macleish responds to criticism from the critic Basil Burwell of The Fall of the City, his first verse play for radio, which featured Orson Welles in the role of a radio announcer who reports on and interprets the actions and words of other characters.


Katherine Anne Porter, 1890-1980.
Typed letter signed, to [Edward] Rosenberry, 4 January 1957, 1 p.

In this letter to the late University of Delaware faculty member Edward Rosenberry, Porter answers a question posed to her by Rosenberry concerning the derivation of the title of her novel Ship of Fools.

Gift of Edward Rosenberry


Edna Ferber, 1887-1968.
Typed letter signed, to F[lora] M[ay] Holly, 10 Oct 1911, 1 p.

Typed letter signed, to Flora Mai [sic] Holly, 10 Nov 1941, 1 p.

Flora May Holly (1868-1960) was one of the leading independent literary agents in New York from the 1920s through the 1940s and represented many prominent American authors including Gertrude Atherton, Theodore Dreiser, and Edna Ferber. Displayed are two letters from Edna Ferber at the beginning and end of their relationship.


Sara Teasdale, 1884-1933
Autograph letter signed to Orrick Johns, 28 August, 1910, 6 pp.

This letter forms part of a collection of forty-three letters Teasdale wrote to Orrick Johns, a friend and fellow poet who was editor of the literary magazine, The Mirror, in which a number of her poems appeared. In this letter she discusses the difficulty she is having with her poetry and includes a draft of her poem "Dew" which differs substantially from the final published version.


Shane Stevens.
Typed letter signed, to [Henry] Volkening, 6 December 1963, 1 p.

This letter from an aspiring young author to his literary agent is part of a collection of five such letters written by Stevens between September - December 1963, four years before the publication of his first novel Go Down Dead. The letters reveal the frustration Stevens feels as he tries to succeed in the cutthroat world of literary publishing. He also makes reference to the recent "national tragedy," the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov 22, 1963.


James Purdy, 1923-
Children Is All, mimeographed typescript, 1961, 41 pp., signed by James Purdy with his explanatory note regarding the play.

James Purdy is one of the most prolific, yet little-known American writers. An accomplished novelist, poet, and playwright, Purdy has produced over fifty books and although he has had difficulty attracting the attention of major publishers and critics, he is highly regarded by his peers.


Hart Crane, 1899-1932.
Autograph postcard, to William Slater Brown, [28 July 1925], 1 p., accompanied by a postcard portrait of Hart Crane dated "8/13/26."

In this postcard written to his friend, the novelist and journalist William Slater Brown, the poet announces his temporary return to his native Cleveland.


George William Russell, 1867-1935.
Typed letter signed, to E. E. Carry, 26 March 1929, 1 p.

In this letter, the Irish poet George Russell, who wrote under the penname A.E., appears to be responding to an American collector of Irish literature. He recounts an amusing story concerning the author George Moore's response to a comment about his early play Martin Luther.


Edith Somerville, 1858-1949.
Autograph letter signed, to Glen Walton Blodgett, 21 November 1921, 1 p.

In this brief letter, Somerville responds to an autograph collector who has asked for her signature by including the added bonus of the tipped-on signature of her recently-deceased cousin and writing collaborator, Violet Martin, with whom she produced the popular Somerville and Ross novels.


John Butler Yeats, 1839-1922.
Autograph letter signed, to "Miss Buss," 21 February 1920, 1 p.

This short letter to Dorothy Buss, an aspiring artist who has written Yeats for advice, includes his delightful sketch depicting himself having his portrait painted by a young woman, presumably Dorothy Buss.


Sean O'Casey, 1880-1964.
Typed letter signed, to The Editor, Irish Statesman, 7 January 1930, 1 p.

This diatribe is directed towards George Russell [A.E.], who was editor of the Irish Statesman, and is part of an exchange of letters between the two, some of which was printed in the publication. This particular letter--as well as several others from O'Casey--was not printed, which infuriated him.


Bernard Shaw, 1856-1950.
"What's What," final proof and supplementary corrections, 1944.
Bound proof with autograph corrections and autograph items laid in.

The University of Delaware Library houses a strong collection of the work of Bernard Shaw, including a significant group of manuscripts and correspondence. Shaw's Everybody's Political What's What? (1944), an amalgam of autobiography, sociology, history, and political economy, which he initially subtitled Machiavelli Modernised, represents his plan for reorganizing society to achieve the fairest distribution of wealth, service, leisure, and opportunities for self-development. It was intended to be an elementary textbook on politics, comprising everything an informed voter should know in a parliamentary democracy. Published in September 1944, it sold eighty-five thousand copies in Britain within a year. Shaw's heavily corrected proof copy is accompanied by several additional sheets of corrections in his hand, including pages he has written in shorthand.

Gift of S. Hallock du Pont


Bernard Shaw, 1856-1950.
Autograph card signed, to Fred Terry, 20 April 1932, 2 pp.

In this brief note to Fred Terry of the Royal General Theatrical Fund, Shaw responds to Terry's request of him to appear in a play, the manuscript of which accompanies the letter.


W. B. Yeats, 1865-1939.
Autograph letter signed, to Lady Gregory, [1 April 1932], 1 p.

In this short, but interesting letter to his fellow Abbey Theatre founder, the Irish poet reports on the success of an Abbey Theatre production in the United States as well as on a dispute involving the British author and artist T. Sturge Moore.

"To an Isle in the Water," autograph manuscript, undated, 1 p.
This manuscript draft of Yeats's well-known poem contains a correction in his hand.

Photograph of William Butler Yeats taken on his arrival in New York for the start of his American lecture tour in 1903.

James Joyce, 1882-1941.
"In the Pine-Wood," autograph manuscript, 1p., signed and dated "JAJ, Dublin 1903."

The manuscript of this poem differs substantially from the version published in Chamber Music (1907). Only the initial line from the manuscript remains intact in the published poem which accompanies the manuscript.



Christopher Ward, 1868-1943.
Papers, 1894-1966.

One of Delaware's best known and most prolific writers was the Wilmington novelist and humorist Christopher Ward. Special Collections holds Ward's literary papers which, in addition to his manuscripts, includes correspondence from numerous literary figures much of which he maintained in scrapbooks.

Bound scrapbook containing letters and clipped reviews relating to Christopher Ward's book Gentleman into Goose, a parody of the British author David Garnett's novel Lady into Fox, a fable in which a young wife turns into a fox. Among the congratulatory letters sent to Ward are these two from Joseph Conrad and Rebecca West.

Joseph Conrad, 1857-1924
Autograph letter signed, 7 December 1923, 1p.

Rebecca West, 1892-1983.
Autograph letter signed, 2 June 1924, 1 p.

Gift of Mrs. Christopher Ward



Ernest Hemingway, 1899-1961.
Typed letter signed to Louis Henry Cohn, [January 2, 1931], 1 p., accompanied by a signed photograph and manuscript.

Writing from Piggott, Arkansas, the home of his second wife's family, Hemingway updates Cohn, his first bibliographer, on his recovery from a broken arm (see photograph and impaired handwriting in manuscript title) and encloses a page from the original manuscript of the story "Death of the Standard Oil Man," which was promised to Cohn in an earlier letter. Hemingway noted his misgivings on Cohn's project, saying "... a bibliography may be of interest to you because you love books but I do not love them at all." The enclosed page of manuscript bears a typed note to Cohn: "You may have this for your book if you want it but truly, very truly, I think it is all balls to publish bibliographies of living writers. E.H."

Louis Henry and Marguerite Cohn Ernest Hemingway collection


Ernest Hemingway letters to Louis Henry Cohn

Autograph letter signed, 24 June [1930], 8 pp.
Hemingway relates his ideas on authorship and also comments on Gertrude Stein and the critics Allen Tate and Edmund Wilson.

Autograph letter signed, 29 July [1930, Cooke City, Montana], 2 pp.
Hemingway comments about the book he is writing and the copyright status of poems published in the magazine Der Querschnitt.


Paul Bowles, 1910-1999.
The Spider's House. Typescript and carbon typescript, undated, 450 pp., with the author's autograph corrections and additional pages bearing revisions.

Typed letter signed to Jane Bowles, 6 November 1966, 1p.
In this letter to his wife Jane, Bowles writes from Bangkok where he was working on a book he was commissioned to write which was never published.

"Notes taken in Thailand," in bound notebook, [ca. 1966], 100 pp.
Always an inveterate traveler, Bowles traveled in 1966 to Thailand to research a book on the country which he never completed. He did leave several notebooks and drafts of manuscripts which are housed in his papers at the University of Delaware Library.


Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson, 1875-1935.
Papers, 1895-1942.

Alice Dunbar Nelson was a highly productive writer in virtually every genre. She was an accomplished poet, a pioneer in the black short story tradition, and devoted much of her later life to education, journalism, and political and social activism. In addition to her own manuscripts, Alice Dunbar-Nelson's papers include substantial correspondence, a few letters of which are displayed.

Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1872-1906.
Autograph letter signed to Alice Moore, 7 September1895, 1 p.

William Stanley Braithwaite, 1878-1962.
Typed letter signed, 17 April 1905, 1 p.

Wallace Thurman, 1902-1934
Typed letter signed, 9 October 1912, 1 p.

James Weldon Johnson,1871-1938.
Typed letter signed, 22 September 1921, 1p.

Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson, 1875-1935.
Diary, 1929: January 2 - November 30.
Alice Dunbar-Nelson maintained an extensive daily diary for much of her adult life and surviving examples are included in her papers. Displayed is a portion of her diary from 1929 in which she described her daily activities for February 24-25.



Pagany Magazine.
Archives, 1925-1970.

Under the editorship of an aspiring young American author and editior Richard Johns, the literary magazine Pagany flourished for three years, appearing in eleven issues between 1929-1932. Like many little magazines it was short lived, but Johns published the work of many of the most important authors of the period and their letters and manuscripts are present in the Pagany archive.

Langston Hughes, 1902-1967.
Typed letter signed, to Richard Johns, 6 March 1933, 1 p.

Countee Cullen, 1903-1946.
Typed letter signed, to Richard Johns, 19 August 1927, 1 p.

Marianne Moore, 1887-1972.
Typed letter signed, to Richard Johns, 31 March 1929, 1 p.

William Carlos Williams, 1883-1963.
Typed letter signed, to Richard Johns, 1 July 1929, 1 p.

William Carlos Williams, 1883-1963.
White Mule, typescript with autograph corrections.

These heavily-corrected portions of Williams's novel about immigrants adjusting to life in the United States were originally published in Pagany.


Arthur Miller, 1915-2004.
Death of a Salesman. New York: Hart Stenographic Bureau, "September, 1948,"
Playscript annotated with dialogue changes and stage direction notes by Paul Lipson, who played Willie Loman in an early New York production of the play. Signed by Paul Lipson.

Richard Hoffman Collection
Gift of the University of Delaware Library Associates


Edward Albee, 1928-
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? New York: Service Associates, [ca. 1962].
Mimeographed playscript, 248 pp., prepared for the original production of the play. This copy is inscribed by Edward Albee to Robert A. Wilson.

Robert A. Wilson Collection
Gift of the University of Delaware Library Associates.



John Malcolm Brinnin, 1916 1999.
Papers, 1930-1999.

John Malcolm Brinnin was a prolific poet, critic, and anthologist. He served as Director of the Young Men's and Young Women's Hebrew Association Poetry Center (the 92nd Street Y) in New York City during one of the Center's most successful periods (1949-1956). His papers, which are held by the University of Delaware Library, contain correspondence and manuscripts from many of the most important poets of the second half of the twentieth century. John Malcolm Brinnin coordinated the legendary American reading tours of the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. His papers include important letters and other papers by and relating to Dylan Thomas.

Typed letter signed, to Dylan Thomas, 22 October 1949, 2 pp.
In this letter Brinnin offers to serve as Thomas's agent for an American tour. John Malcolm Brinnin, 1916 1999.

Dylan Thomas, 1914-1953.
Autograph letter signed, 23 November 1949, to John Malcolm Brinnin, 3 pp.
This letter contains Thomas's response to Brinnin's offer.

Dylan Thomas, 1914-1953.
Autograph note signed, undated, 1 p.

A short note to Brinnin during Thomas's first New York trip.

John Malcolm Brinnin, 1916- 1999.
Dylan Thomas in America. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1956.


Tennessee Williams Collection.

Photograph, [ca. 1957].
This photograph depicts Williams and the actress Anna Magnani aboard the cruise ship Andrea Doria. Magnani was one of Williams's actresses of choice and played the lead in the film version of The Rose Tattoo. Williams's autograph note, "L'esprit et le corps," appears on the photo.

The Rose Tattoo (a play in three parts) [playscript], 1950 October, Ts [carbon], 137 pp.Bound into a green folder andpaged internally by act with additional pages laid in.
This playscript contains numerous autograph corrections to the text. The title page is dated "Fourth draft, New York, October, 1950" and bears Williams's autograph notation: "My copy of script used during rehearsals and Chicago tryout. Tennessee Williams." The script serves as a good example of the extensive revision process Williams went through with his writing.


Ralph Delauney collection related to The Rose Tattoo
Ralph Delauney served as the stage manager for the first Chicago and New York productions of Tennessee Williams's The Rose Tattoo. As stage manager, Delauney was responsible for arranging for rehearsals, securing addresses and phone numbers for cast and crew, preparing a master script, setting up the stage, serving as liaison between director and technical staff, organizing and training the crew, laying out floor plans for staging, compiling master lists (sounds, lights, props, etc.) and distributing scripts and revisions. On opening night he also assumed full responsibility and authority backstage for the run of the show. Special Collections houses his archive documenting the two productions. Displayed here is a rendering of the set, and his copy of the script with extensive authorial revisions, including ten different draft endings for the play, each with dates for when it was tried during rehearsals.


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Last modified: 12/21/10

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