University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Robert E. Spiller



Manuscript Collection Number: 99  F232
Accessioned: Received October 1981.
Extent: .1 linear ft. (26 items)
Content: Letters, reviews, programs, bibliography, articles, and publisher's brochure.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: June 2002 by Anita A. Wellner

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

Table of Contents

Biographical Note

American author and scholar Robert E. Spiller was born November 13, 1896 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was educated at the University of Pennsylvania, receiving an AB in 1917, an MA in 1921 and a Ph.D. in 1924.

The majority of Robert Spiller’s teaching career was spent at the University of Pennsylvania, where he taught from 1920 to 1967. In 1967 he retired from the University as Felix E. Schelling Professor of English Literature Emeritus. He was a visiting lecturer at numerous universities and conferences, such as Duke University (1927), Harvard University (1930), Columbia University (1931, 1937), University of Oslo (1950), University of London (1958-1959), and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference (1938). Robert Spiller’s contributions to the field of American literary history were recognized with honorary degrees from Thiel College, College of Wooster, University of Kiel, and the University of Pennsylvania.

A scholar in the field of American literary history, Spiller wrote such critical studies as Fenimore Cooper: Critic of His Times (1931), The Cycle of American Literature: An Essay in Historical Criticism (1955), and Milestones in American Literary History (1977). He was also the editor of numerous literary texts, a reviewer of books, and a contributor to encyclopedias, newspapers, and professional journals. Robert E. Spiller died in August 1988 in Philadelphia, PA.


Robert E. Spiller.” Contemporary Authors Online. The Gale Group, 2001. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: The Gale Group, 2002. Retrieved June 1, 2002 from

Scope and Content Note

The Robert E. Spiller Collection consists of twenty-six letters, reviews, articles, or printed items related to or collected by Spiller. The items are sorted into several small groups. The first group consists of seven letters written to Spiller congratulating him on his recently published article, “Sidney Lanier: Ancestor of Anti-Realism.” A photocopy of the article, which appeared in the January 10, 1948 issue of The Saturday Review, and a letter from the editor complete this group.

A second set of four items is related to Spiller’s review of Sheldon Norman Grebstein’s John O’Hara, written at the request of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in 1967. The letter of request, a program, a typescript (carbon) draft of the review, and tear sheets of the published article are present.

The next group of five items concerns Spiller’s review of two books written by Thomas Wolfe. The review appeared in the autumn 1963 issue of Sewanee Review. Items documenting this review are a letter requesting the review, a carbon copy of Spiller’s letter of acceptance, a typescript (carbon) draft of the review, a printed image of Wolfe, and tear sheets of the published article.

The remaining items comprise a miscellany of literary ephemera, including printed and photocopied articles and a one-page bibliography on The Grapes of Wrath. Tear sheets or photocopies of articles concerning Eugene O’Neill and Robert Penn Warren, a brochure advertising books written by Kenneth Patchen, and newsletters published by P.E.N. (1955 Nov) and the Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial (1957) complete the collection.

Some of printed ephemera were originally laid in books from the personal library of Spiller. The books have been cataloged and are available in either Special Collections or Morris Library. Any item removed from a book has a pencilled notation on the item naming the book.


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