Special Collections Department
Letters to Orrick Johns
Manuscript Collection Number: 099 F252
Accessioned: Purchase, 1985.
Extent: .1 linear ft. (44 items)
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: Revised 1998 by Anita A. Wellner.
Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
Table of Contents
Teasdale traveled extensively and made frequent trips to Chicago, where she eventually became part of Harriet Monroe's Poetry magazine circle and met numerous other poets. After rejecting the poet Vachel Lindsay as a suitor, she married St. Louis businessman, Ernst Filsinger, in 1914. She divorced Filsinger in 1929, against his wishes.
"Guenevere" was Teasdale's first poem to be printed, appearing in Reedy's Mirror in 1907. Teasdale's first book, Sonnets to Duse and Other Poems, was published by Poet Lore in the same year. Among her other books of poetry were numerous volumes published by Macmillan, including Rivers to the Sea (1915), Love Songs (1917), Flame and Shadow (1920), Dark of the Moon (1926), and Strange Victory (1933). In 1918 Teasdale was awarded the annual prize of the Poetry Society of America and the Columbia University Poetry Society Prize (forerunner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry) for Love Songs.
Popular during the early twentieth century, Teasdale's poems appeared in numerous periodicals including Harper's, Scribner's, Century, Forum, Lippincott's, Putnam's, Bookman, and New Republic.
On January 29, 1933, having become increasingly depressed and reclusive, Sara Teasdale died of an overdose of sleeping pills. She was buried in St. Louis, Missouri.
Sources:Locher, Frances C. (ed.) Contemporary Authors. Volume 104. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1982. p. 466.
Quartermain, Peter (ed.) Dictionary of Literary Biography. Volume 45: American Poets, 1880-1945. First Series. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1986. pp. 396-405.
Scope and Content Note
In many of her letters Teasdale praised and critiqued the poetry of the letters recipient, Orrick Johns, a friend and fellow poet. He was also editor of the literary magazine, The Mirror, in which a number of her poems appeared. It is obvious from her letters that Teasdale held Johns in high regard for his friendship and his literary work.
Teasdale wrote to Johns from various locales, including her home in St. Louis, Missouri, vacation spots such as St. Augustine, Florida, and Amalfi, Italy; as well as from New York City. In her letters Teasdale discussed her motivations for writing, her feelings about the quality of particular poems (one letter includes an eight-line poem, "Dew"), and her work in general. Her letters are filled with her observations of life, revealing her struggle with difficult feelings such as loneliness, a terror of death, and doubts about her poetry. She mentioned her admiration for the poetry of Nora French and Sappho, and expressed her enthusiasm for New York City.
Some of Teasdale's thoughts about women are revealed in a New Year's Eve, 1910, letter, in which she stated: "I sometimes think a woman has no right to do anything but lyrics--The rest somehow belongs to men. A woman, being inferior to a man in everything but delicacy and a certain emotional keenness, should follow only those arts where these two qualities count--and perhaps acting and lyrical verse are the only two. But I am mooning on a pet theory of mine."
Related collections:Ms 142 Sara Teasdale letters to Joyce and Aline Kilmer
Ms 111 Louis Untermeyer Papers
F252 Letters of Sara Teasdale to Orrick Johns, 1909-1913 and [n.d.] 1909 Apr 7 ALS 5p Jun 24 ALS 5p Nov 11 ALS 3p 1910 Jan 24 ALS 12p Feb 2 ALS 2p Feb 12 ALS 8p Mar 11 ALS 2p Apr 14 ALS 8p Aug 28 ALS 6p Dec 13 ALS 4p Dec 31 ALS 6p 1911 Jan 10 ACS 2p Jan 16 ACS 2p Mar 15 ALS 5p Jun 13 ALS 4p Oct 10 ALS 4p Oct 16 ALS 4p Oct 19 ACS 2p Dec 23 ALS 2p [1911 Dec] ALS 4p 1912 Jan 1 ACS 2p Mar 7 ALS 2p Apr 12 ALS 4p  May ACS 2p 1912 Jun 9 ACS 1p Oct 3 ACS 2p 1913 Jun 1 ACS 2p Dec 14 ALS 4p 1914 Dec 27 ACS 2p (Letter is incomplete) [n.d.] ANS 1p Note: Note is written on the bottom of a three-page ALS from Wilfred Funk to Teasdale. [n.y.] Apr 29 ALS 6p [n.d.] Sunday ACS 1p [n.d.] Sunday ALS 4p [n.d.] Monday ACS 2p [n.d.] Monday ALS 4p [n.d.] Monday ALS 2p [n.d.] Tuesday ALS 3p [n.d.] Wednesday ALS 3p [n.d.] Thursday ALS 4p [n.d.] Thursday ALS 1p [n.d.] Friday ACS 2p [n.d.] ACS 2p [n.d.] ALS 6p (Letter is incomplete)
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