University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Rudi Holzapfel
Letters to
Ellen Shannon-Mangan

1978 - 2000


Manuscript Collection Number: 491
Accessioned: Purchase, February 2003
Extent: 1 linear ft. (229 items)
Content: Letters, greeting cards, postcards, photographs
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: June 2004 by Gerald Cloud

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Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
(302) 831-2229

Table of Contents

Biographical Note


Rudi Hozapfel

The Irish poet Rudolf Patrick (Rudi) Holzapfel was born in Paris, France, on December 11, 1938. His father, Rudolf Melander Holzapfel (1900-1982), was a Shakespeare scholar, expert on Old Master paintings, and art dealer. His mother, Mona Trew Holzapfel, was an original member of the renowned "Bluebell Girls," the Parisian dance troupe founded in 1932 that continues to perform elaborate shows at the Lido de Paris. The family relocated to America, living in California between 1946 to 1956, where Rudi Holzapfel was graduated from Santa Barbara Catholic High School. From 1956 to 1970, Holzapfel worked various jobs in England and Ireland, and studied at Trinity College in Dublin. It was during these years that Holzapfel began to identify with Ireland and the cause of Irish nationalism; he has said he would like to be considered "a true inheritor of the spiritual legacy of the Gaelic Bards." He began a lifelong study and appreciation of James Clarence Mangan (1803-1849), "the greatest Irish poet before Yeats." In 1969, Holzapfel published James Clarence Mangan: A Checklist of Printed and Other Sources (Dublin: Scepter).

From 1970 to the late 1980s, Holzapfel lived in Germany, teaching English and literature. Holzapfel has published more than twenty-five books of poetry, some under his own imprint, Sunburst Press (Blackrock, County Dublin). An early book of poetry, Cast a Cold Eye, was written with Brendan Kennelly (Dolmen Press, 1959). Holzapfel has published with other Irish authors, including Oliver Snoddy and John Farrell, and his work has been anthologized in the Penguin Book of Irish Verse and Modern Irish Poets. With a circle of other Mangan scholars, including Jacques Chuto, Peter Van de Kamp, Peter MacMahon, and Ellen Shannon-Mangan, Holzapfel has edited selections of Mangan's prose and poems for the Irish Academic Press.


Ellen Shannon-Mangan

Ellen Shannon-Mangan (Mary Ellen Carmichael Shannon) was married to Richard Shannon (now deceased), a descendent of the Irish poet James Clarence Mangan. Ellen Shannon-Mangan obtained her BA from the University of Illinois and her master's degree in English from the University of Delaware (1954). She taught writing and literature at Clatsop Community College in Astoria, Oregon. In the course of pursuing her own studies and preparing a biography of Mangan, she was referred by Brendan Kennelly, Professor of Modern Literature at Trinity College, Dublin, to his old friend, fellow poet and Mangan admirer Rudi Holzapfel. Shannon-Mangan first met Holzapfel in the early 1980s when she and her husband traveled from their home in Oregon to Bonn, West Germany, where Holzapfel was living. Through correspondence and visits, Shannon-Mangan and Holzapfel shared interests and developed editorial projects related to Mangan.

In addition, Shannon-Mangan edited a collection of Holzapfel's poetry, Ask Silence Why: Selected Poems (1961-1982) and represented his work with American publishers. She is the author of James Clarence Mangan: a Biography (1996) and co-editor, with Holzapfel, Jacques Chuto, Peter Van de Kamp, and Peter MacMahon, of the Irish Academic Press Series The Collected Works of James Clarence Mangan, including Prose, 1832-1882; Poems, 1818-1912; and Selected Poems.


Holzapfel, Rudi. Ask Silence Why: Selected Poems, 1961-1982 / edited by Ellen Shannon-Mangan. Dublin: Beaver Row Press, 1987.

Holzapfel, Rudolf Melander. The autobiography of Rudolf Melander Holzapfel / edited by his son. [Dublin]: Sunburst Press, c1992.

Shannon-Mangan, Ellen. James Clarence Mangan: A Biography. Dublin and Portland, Oregon: Irish Academic Press, 1996.

Scope and Content Note

The Rudi Holzapfel Letters to Ellen Shannon-Mangan comprises one linear foot of correspondence, including 175 letters and greeting cards, and 54 postcards, spanning the dates 1978 - 2000. The correspondence began when Brendan Kennelly introduced Shannon-Mangan to Holzapfel for assistance with her biography of the poet of James Clarence Mangan. Holzapfel's letters were written from Bonn, West Germany, where he lived through the 1980s, and Tipperary, Ireland, where he moved in 1990, as well as during travels. Shannon-Mangan lived in Astoria, Oregon. Beyond the discussion of Clarence Mangan's life, work, and critical reception, the primary subject of the letters is literature, particularly poetry, including Holzapfel's writing and Shannon-Mangan's own work. Additionally, the families of both writers became friends, and the letters contain personal and family news. The postcards in the collection were sent from various European locations where Holzapfel traveled and vacationed. The tone of Holzafpel's commentary on life as a poet and the work of other writers is frank, humorous, and outspoken. Holzafpel's letters, whether handwritten or typed, frequently bear his supplemental holograph annotations, revisions, commentary, and postscripts -- reflecting great engagement in his correspondence with Shannon-Mangan.

The collection is arranged chronologically. Most of the letters include original mailing envelopes, which often bear Shannon-Mangan's autograph notes concerning the contents of the letter or her responses to the letter, as well as the date she replied to the letters. In many cases the letters are annotated with autograph notes relating to Shannon-Mangan's editorial work on Holzapfel's Selected Poems and her biography of James Clarence Mangan. Holzapfel read at least portions of Shannon-Mangan's work-in-progress and comments on her writing and research in detail.
Two photographs are included in the collection, one of Rudi Holzapfel, dated 1994 (F13), and another of his father, Rudolf Melander Holzapfel (F3), included with a memorial card (1982).

Related Collections:

Ms 244 Rudi Holzapfel Poetry Manuscripts
Ms 245 Rudi Holzapfel Papers

Contents List

Box -- Folder -- Contents

		Letters from Rudi Holzapfel to Ellen Shannon-Mangan

                              1978 - 1980
1           F1             7 items

             F2            18 items

             F3            15 items, including portrait of Rudolf Melander Holzapfel

             F4            16 items


             F5            11 items

             F6            20 items

2           F7            16 items

             F8            23 items

             F9           17 items

             F10         15 items

                             1990 - 1991
             F11          21 items

                             1992 - 1993
          F12         14 items

                             1994 - 1996
             F13         14 items, including photograph of Rudi Hozapfel

                             1997 - 1998
             F14         13 items

                             1999 - 2000
             F15          9 items

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