University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department


Louis Untermeyer
Correspondence with
John D. Weaver

1938 - 1995

(bulk dates 1939-1977)

Manuscript Collection Number: 441
Accessioned: Purchase, August 2001
Extent: 1 linear ft.
Content: letters, clippings, manuscripts
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: April 2002, by Kevin Burke.

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


Table of Contents


Biographical Note

Louis Untermeyer (1885–1977) was an American author, anthologist, and editor. Over the course of his long career, Untermeyer published over a hundred books of prose and poetry. He is particularly noted for his influential poetry anthologies which early promoted the work of poets like Robert Frost, T.S. Eliot, and Ezra Pound.

A high school drop-out, Untermeyer went to work for his father’s jewelry business at the age of sixteen. He remained until 1923 when he resigned to devote his efforts full-time to literature. By the time of his resignation, Untermeyer had already published several volumes of his own verse and the first of his anthologies of American and British poetry. During the next fifty-five years, Untermeyer published “biographies, children’s books, travel reminiscences, literary essays, translations, and a novel,” in addition to his own poetry and his anthologies of poetry. He was a long-time friend of Robert Frost, and, in 1963, published Letters of Robert Frost to Louis Untermeyer, documenting his half-century of correspondence with the poet.

Untermeyer was senior editor of publications with the Office of War Information and editor for Armed Forces Editions during World War II. He served as cultural editor for Decca Records after the war until 1958. In the early 1950s he was a regular on the CBS television program “What’s My Line,” but was forced out by pressure resulting from unsubstantiated charges of radicalism. During the 1961-62 term, he was consultant on poetry for the Library of Congress. Untermeyer was also a popular lecturer and held many appointments as poet-in-residence at colleges and universities across the United States.

The American writer John D. Weaver (b. 1912) began his career as a reporter and feature writer for the Kansas City Star in 1935. From 1940 he worked as a freelance writer in California. He has written two novels and numerous articles, stories and reviews for publications like Harper’s, Atlantic Monthly, and the Saturday Evening Post. His historical work, The Brownsville Raid, was instrumental in re-opening the case of 167 black infantrymen who had been dishonorably discharged from the army in 1910. The soldiers were exonerated in 1972. His story, “Holiday Affair,” was made into a movie starring Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh in 1946, and remade for television in 1996. Weaver served as West Coast editor for Holiday magazine in 1964-65, and as an editor for Travel & Leisure beginning in 1971.

Untermeyer and Weaver met in Kansas City in 1938 when Untermeyer was poet-in-residence at Kansas City University and Weaver was a feature writer for the Kansas City Times. During Untermeyer’s stay in Kansas City, Weaver’s wife, Harriet, served as Untermeyer’s secretary for his anthology, Stars to Steer By. The resulting forty year friendship produced the correspondence that comprises the bulk of this collection.

Sources:

Louis Untermeyer.” Contemporary Authors Online. The Gale Group, 2000. Retrieved April 22, 2002 from http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioR

“John D. Weaver.” Contemporary Authors Online. The Gale Group, 1999. Retrieved April 22, 2002 from http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioR

Untermeyer, Louis. Bygones: The Recollections of Louis Untermeyer. New York: Harcourt Brace & World, Inc., 1965.
Other information derived from the collection.


Scope and Content Note

The Louis Untermeyer - John D. Weaver Collection spans the years 1938 (the year of the initial meeting of Untermeyer and Weaver) through 1995. The bulk of the collection is concentrated in the period 1939 through 1977, the year of Untermeyer’s death. The collection consists largely of letters, together with clippings, manuscripts and letters with other correspondents exchanged by Untermeyer and Weaver. Taken together, the material thoroughly documents the forty years friendship between the two writers.

In their correspondence, Untermeyer and Weaver shared literary and political news, as well as personal information. The correspondence included in the collection contains discussions of works-in-progress and reactions by Untermeyer and Weaver to each other’s work. Letters from the early 1950s include Untermeyer’s descriptions of the effect of blacklisting on his career. Untermeyer also describes encounters with other literary figures, including Robert Frost, Arthur Miller, and Erica Jong. The correspondence was “couple-to-couple.” Typically Untermeyer’s letters are addressed to “John and Harriet” (Weaver’s wife). Letters from Untermeyer are usually signed “Louis and Esther,” or “Louis and Bryna” (Untermeyer’s fourth and fifth wives). A significant number of letters were written by Bryna Untermeyer to John and Harriet Weaver. Following Untermeyer’s death in 1977, Weaver maintained the correspondence with his widow, Bryna, until her death in 1985. Beginning in 1962, Weaver retained carbon copies of his letters to Untermeyer.

The collection also includes a number of manuscripts by both Untermeyer and Weaver. In the years immediately preceding his death, Untermeyer wrote two articles for Travel and Leisure. Due to Weaver’s association with the magazine, Untermeyer submitted the articles through him. In the case of “The Lucky Eleven” (1977), the collection includes Untermeyer’s typed draft with corrections in his hand.

Item counts in the Finding Aid refer to the number of letters, not including enclosures of clippings or letters from other correspondents that Untermeyer and Weaver exchanged. The item counts are intended to provide a general idea of the extent of the correspondence during a given period.

Related Collection:

Ms 111 Louis Untermeyer Papers


Contents List

Folder -- Contents


F1   Louis Untermeyer Letters to John D. Weaver, 1938 – 1941 (15 
items) Includes photocopies of articles written by Weaver for the Kansas City Star and the Kansas City Times about Untermeyer’s lectures in Kansas City in 1938 and 1939. F2 Louis Untermeyer Letters to John D. Weaver, 1942 – 1943 (24 items) Includes clippings about Untermeyer’s 1943 divorce from his fourth wife, Esther Antin Untermeyer. F3 Louis Untermeyer Letters to John D. Weaver, 1944 – 1948 (15 items) Includes photocopy of advertisement for Untermeyer’s WNEW radio show “Let’s Balance the Books,” and TS of Untermeyer’s radio review of Weaver’s book, Another Such Victory, broadcast April 5, 1948; also, a card (July 23, 1948) informing the Weavers of Untermeyer’s marriage to Bryna Ivens Untermeyer. F4 Louis Untermeyer Letters to John D. Weaver, 1949 – 1950 (21 items) TLS (Apr. 12, 1950) describes Untermeyer’s role on CBS television program “What’s My Line.” F5 Louis Untermeyer Letters to John D. Weaver, 1951 (16 items) Includes letters and clippings concerning the effect on Untermeyer of the blacklisting in the 1950s, particularly in regard to Untermeyer’s appearances on the CBS television show “What’s My Line.” F6 Louis Untermeyer Letters to John D. Weaver, 1952 – 1954 (18 items) Continues descriptions of Untermeyer’s on-going difficulties with blacklisting. F7 Louis Untermeyer Letters to John D. Weaver, 1955 (10 items) Includes carbon copy of note from Untermeyer to Ray Bradbury (Dec. 13, 1955). F8 Louis Untermeyer Letters to John D. Weaver, 1956 (13 items) Includes TLS (April 26, 1956) from Burl Ives to Untermeyer, and TLS (July 11, 1956) from Untermeyer to Weaver with an account of a dinner with Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe. F9 Louis Untermeyer Letters to John D. Weaver, 1957 – 1958 (20 items) Includes TLS (December 1, 1958) from Untermeyer to Weaver describing a lunch with Robert Frost. F10 Louis Untermeyer Letters to John D. Weaver, 1959 – 1961 (28 items) Includes press release announcing appointment of Untermeyer as Poetry Consultant to the Library of Congress for the 1961 V 1962 term. F11 Louis Untermeyer Correspondence with John D. Weaver, 1962 – 1963 (30 items) Includes carbon copies of Weaver’s letters to Untermeyer; typescripts of Weaver’s stories “The Christmas Surprise” and “The Magic Telephone”; also, correspondence between Harriet Weaver and John D. Gordan regarding an article written by Harriet Weaver for the Kansas City Star in 1937 about the poet Elinor Wylie. F12 Louis Untermeyer Correspondence with John D. Weaver, 1964 – 1965 (24 items) Includes carbons of Weaver’s letters to Joe Laitin and Stewart Udall regarding Untermeyer’s 80th birthday, and a letter from Frederick Holborn, Special Assistant in the White House, indicating that a letter would be prepared for the president’s signature offering Untermeyer congratulations on his birthday. F13 Louis Untermeyer Correspondence with John D. Weaver, 1966 – 1969 (28 items) F14 Louis Untermeyer Correspondence with John D. Weaver, 1970 – 1974 (52 items) Includes typescript of Untermeyer’s essay, “Who’s on First,” and copy of “A Louis Sonnet” by Muriel Ruckeyser written on the occasion of Untermeyer’s 85th birthday. F15 Louis Untermeyer Correspondence with John D. Weaver, 1975 (29 items) Includes typescript and galleys of Untermeyer’s essay, “Poetry Is Alive and Well,” that appeared in the October, 1975 issue of Travel and Leisure; also, copies of Untermeyer’s correspondence with Mary Austin during 1930 and an essay by Austin on New Mexico children’s songs. F16 Louis Untermeyer Correspondence with John D. Weaver, 1976 – 1977 (40 items) Includes typed, corrected draft of Untermeyer’s essay “Ten Books for That Island,” together with a clean copy typed by Harriet Weaver and the printed version, “The Lucky Eleven,” that appeared in the February, 1977 issue of Travel and Leisure; also, copy of New York Times article, “Untermeyer Remembers,” autographed by Untermeyer, and Untermeyer obituaries from several publications. F17 John D. Weaver Correspondence with Bryna Untermeyer, 1978 – 1985 (64 items) Includes announcement of Bryna Untermeyer’s marriage to Emmanuel Raices and letter from Raices informing Weaver of Bryna’s death (September 10, 1985). Correspondence from March 3, 1980 through September 13, 1985 are photocopies of original letters made by Weaver. F18 Laurence Untermeyer Correspondence with John D. Weaver, 1978 – 1995 (7 items) Note: Laurence Untermeyer is Louis Untermeyer’s son. Correspondence concerns Weaver’s attempts to locate his portion of the correspondence with Louis Untermeyer. In TLS (February 17, 1995) Laurence Untermeyer grants Weaver permission to quote from unpublished Louis Untermeyer letters. F19 John D. Weaver Correspondence with Gil Fates, 1995 (2 items) Concerns Fates’ book What’s My Line, and his association with Untermeyer. F20 Lilly Library, Indiana University, 1990 – 1998 (6 items) Correspondence between Weaver and the curator of manuscripts at IU, and descriptions of Untermeyer collection at IU. F21 UCLA Music Library Includes copy of a 1942 letter to Untermeyer from Maxson F. Judell requesting Untermeyer’s assistance with the lyrics of the UCLA song. (Original letter in F2) F22 Library of Congress. Includes copies of the Annual Report of the Librarian of Congress for 1961 and 1962 which contain information regarding Untermeyer’s tenure as Poetry Consultant to the Library. F23 Notes and Clippings Related to Weaver’s Research on Untermeyer Includes Weaver’s inventory of letters in the collection. F24 Weaver Miscellany Includes copies of Weaver’s early articles and stories (1935 – 1939: 7 articles, 2 stories), and copy of Summer 1983 issue the Alumni Gazette of the College of William and Mary with an article by Weaver. F25 World War II Commemorative Magazine Issues Includes New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, and Time. Weaverserved in the U.S.
Army Signal Corps during the war.

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