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Stuart Wright Collection: Merrill Moore Papers, 1929–1987, undated

Manuscript Collection #1169-007

Descriptive Summary Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Title: Stuart Wright Collection: Merrill Moore Papers
Creators: Moore, Merrill [Austin Merrill], 1903-1957
Wright, Stuart T., 1948-
Repository: ECU Manuscript Collection
Languages: English
Abstract: Papers (1929 – 1987, undated) documenting the life and literary career of Merrill Moore, the noted Southern American poet, physician and psychiatrist, who became a leader and spokesman for the Fugitive Group of Southern poets that included Robert Penn Warren and Allen Tate, among others, including correspondence, manuscript materials, printed materials and loose manuscript materials from the Stuart Wright Book Collection.
Extent: 0.25 Cubic feet, 1 archival box; 23 items.

Administrative Information Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Accessions Information

21 June 2010, 0.25 cubic feet; 1 archival box; 57 items; 83 p. Papers (1929 – 1987, undated) documenting the life and literary career of Merrill Moore, the noted Southern American poet, physician and psychiatrist, who became a leader and spokesman for the Fugitive Group of Southern poets, including Robert Penn Warren, Allen Tate, and others, including correspondence, manuscript materials, printed materials and loose manuscript materials from the Stuart Wright Book Collection. Vendor: Stuart Wright.

Access Restrictions

No restrictions

Copyright Notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law

Preferred Citation

Stuart Wright Collection - Merrill Moore Papers (#1169-007) East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA

Acquisition Information

  • Purchased from Stuart Wright, 6/21/2010

Processing Information

  • Processed, Container list & Preliminary inventory, by Jonathan Dembo, with the assistance of Krystal Cook, Cynthia Sharp, Saundra Pinkham, revised 11/19/2010; final inventory by Krystal Cook, revised 1/19/2011; Finding aid by Jonathan Dembo, revised by Dick Wolfe, 8/10/2011, revised by Jonathan Dembo, 6/14/2012; Encoded by Jonathan Dembo, 7/5/2012; Encoding revised by Jonathan Dembo, 7/16/2012.


Biographical / Historical Note Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Merrill Moore

Austin Merrill Moore was born at Columbia, TN on 11 September 1903. His father was poet, novelist, and historian John Trotwood Moore. Merrill Moore attained a bachelor's degree in 1924 and an MD in 1928 from Vanderbilt University. In 1935 Moore established a private practice as a physician in Boston. He also taught neurology at Harvard Medical School and at Boston City Hospital, where he carried out research on alcoholism and drug addiction. During World War II Moore received a Bronze Star for his service during the Bougainville Campaign as a U. S. Army psychiatrist. He also served in New Zealand. As a member of the Fugitive Group of poets together with Robert Penn Warren, Allen Tate, and others, he published many poems from 1922 to 1926 in a poetry magazine, The Fugitive, and in Fugitives, An Anthology of Verse in 1928. Over his life, he published more than forty volumes of poetry and is said to have written more than 50,000 sonnets. He died at age 54 on 20 September 1957.

Stuart Wright

The Merrill Moore Papers were collected and compiled by Stuart T. Wright. Wright was born on 30 March 1948 in Roxboro, North Carolina. He was the son of Frances Critcher Wright (1919-2010) and Wallace Lyndon Wright (1921-1965). An avid reader as a boy, Wright developed a strong interest in the American Civil War and with his father toured many of the war’s battlefields searching for artifacts and studying the history of the era. At the age of 12, he won a statewide “Johnny Reb” essay contest and by the age of 15 had visited every major battlefield of the Civil War. Wright attended Roxboro High School, from which he graduated in 1966. It was during these years that he developed an interest in collecting historical books and manuscripts and began relationships with a number of local collectors and dealers.

In the fall of 1966, Wright enrolled at Wake Forest University as a pre-med, history, German and music student. Wright earned a B.A. in German and music in 1970. As a graduate student at Wake Forest University, Wright focused his studies on Southern history and literature, his ambition being to build an authoritative Southern Studies collection for the university. He received a master's degree in Southern Studies in 1973 and a second master's degree in U.S. History in 1980. Additionally Wright holds a professional degree from England in a medically related field. It was while studying there that he became interested in Thomas Wolfe, the noted North Carolina native and novelist.

Following his graduation from Wake Forest, Wright began to develop his collections more systematically, acquiring many first editions of Southern writers. In 1976 he began teaching at Reynolda House, a Wake Forest University affiliate dedicated to the arts and arts education. Wright taught classes in American music as well as human anatomy for art students. In 1978 Wright became Lecturer in Education at Wake Forest University. During his 10 years teaching at Wake Forest University, Wright authored numerous works of Civil War and North Carolina history, and dozens of articles, bibliographies, essays and reviews on Southern literature and the writers whose papers he collected. In addition, he developed a strong interest in the writings of the English poet Donald Davie and the Minnesota-born poet Richard Eberhart, whose works he also collected.

At the same time, Wright also began a career as a publisher by starting Palaemon Press in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. By 1984, Palaemon Press had produced 316 titles, consisting mainly of broadsides and limited editions, of the poetry and essays of such Southern writers as A. R. Ammons, Fred Chappell, James Dickey, William Goyen, George Garrett, and Eudora Welty. He also built comprehensive collections and compiled book-length descriptive bibliographies of A.R. Ammons, Andrew Lytle, Reynolds Price, James Dickey, William Goyen, Walker Percy, Randall Jarrell, Peter Taylor, George Garrett, Richard Eberhart, and Donald Davie. As well as serving as editor of the contemporary literature section of the Bulletin of Bibliography throughout the 1980s, Wright also contributed pioneering checklists of the writings of Southern poets Henry Taylor, Charles Wright, and Robert Morgan. For Meckler Publishing he served as series editor for a number of book-length bibliographies and checklists. In recognition of these accomplishments, when he was just 32, Wright was elected to membership in New York's prestigious Grolier Club.

All of these works are represented in the Stuart Wright Collection. In his dealings with these various authors Wright made consistent efforts to acquire personal papers, letters and documents, photographs, manuscripts, drafts, proofs, and published materials to supplement his continuing activities as a purchaser of their works. In this way, Wright acquired perhaps a majority of his overall collection. Over the years a number of biographers used Wright’s collection to aid their research. For example, James A. Grimshaw, Jr. used the collection extensively for his Robert Penn Warren: A Descriptive Bibliography, 1922-1979 published by the University Press of Virginia, in 1981 and Craig S. Abbott did so as well for John Crowe Ransom: A Descriptive Bibliography, published by Whitston Publishing Company, Inc. in 1999. Joseph Blotner also used the Wright collection in researching Robert Penn Warren: A Biography, published by Random House in 1997.

Nevertheless, from the mid- to late 1980s, Wright began to look for a permanent home for his collection, which he felt had grown too large and yet had been too little used. Unable to find a repository willing to accept the entire collection under suitable conditions, he sold a number of individual author collections to Vanderbilt University, Duke University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Emory University. It was not until 2010 that he reached agreement to house the remaining, and largest part of his collection at East Carolina University. The Stuart Wright Collection in the East Carolina Manuscript Collection of J.Y. Joyner Library includes 22 sub-collections of the papers of Southern American writers. The related Stuart Wright Book Collection holds several thousand volumes by or about many of the same writers. Many of these volumes contain annotations, inscriptions, and insertions that reveal much about the authors in the collection and their relationships with one another. In 1998 Wright moved to England, and since 2001 he has resided in the medieval market town of Ludlow, in Shropshire.

Description Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

The Merrill Moore Papers contains material written 1929-1987 relating to Merrill Moore’s life and literary career, including material compiled and added to the collection by Stuart Wright. The material covers most of his career and includes posthumous material. The material is especially helpful for documenting Moore’s relationships with John Ciardi, Richard Ghormley Eberhart and John Crowe Ransom, and to the origin and development of his literary ideas and style.

The Merrill Moore Papers are arranged in original order in two series.

Series 1: Correspondence and Manuscript Materials contains correspondence with Richard Ghormley Eberhart and John Ciardi and magazine articles, documenting Moore’s relationships with Eberhart and Ciardi and his medical service at Massachusetts General Hospital and as a psychiatrist during World War II in the South Pacific, 1943-1957. Series one is contained in Box 1.a-1.d

Series 2: Loose Manuscripts Transferred from Stuart Wright Book Collection contains loose manuscript materials transferred from the books relating to Merrill Moore in the Stuart Wright Book Collection. The material consists of notes, cards, correspondence, clippings, periodicals, photographic prints, printed poems, ephemera, etc., 1929-1955 that either Moore or Stuart Wright interfiled in the books. It includes a news release on the publication of Clinical Sonnets that includes a biographical sketch of Moore’s career to 1949. They include notes and bookmarks inserted by Moore, Stuart Wright, and others; including notes, cards, correspondence, clippings, advertising, photographic prints, reviews, ephemera, etc. relating to the published works. Several of them relate to his friend Richard Ghormley Eberhart. Of particular interest is Moore’s Christmas Letter written to Eberhart in December, 1943, from "Somewhere in the South Pacific". It describes Moore's World War II military service, the conditions he encountered, and in which he describes Eleanor Roosevelt’s visit to the front. Also included is an undated x-ray photograph of Merrill Moore’s skull which he used to publicize The Noise that Time Makes (1929), and which he inscribed to John Crowe Ransom. Two items relate to Lewis Leary and John Crowe Ransom. The loose manuscripts are linked to the book of origin by their Stuart Wright Book Collection Number (e.g. Stuart Wright Book Collection #38.04). Series two is contained in Box 1.e – 1.j.

Note to Researchers: Series 2: Loose Manuscripts Transferred from the Stuart Wright Book Collection consists of items found laid in works in the Stuart Wright Book Collection by, about, associated with, or owned by Merrill Moore. They include notes and bookmarks inserted by Moore, Stuart Wright, and others; also notes, cards, correspondence, clippings, advertising, reviews, ephemera, etc. relating to his published works. The loose manuscripts are linked to the books from which they came by their Stuart Wright Book Collection Number (e.g. Stuart Wright Book Collection #40.15).

Related Collections Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Container List Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

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Series 1:
Manuscript Materials
  • Box 1#1169-007.1
    • Folder a#1169-007.1.a
      Moore, Merrill. Greeting of the Season booklet for Christmas and New Year sent to Richard G. Eberhart, Boston, MA. [Correspondence] (1956-1957) Printed 1 item. 10 p. Note: Signed "Merrill" on page 13 and signed "Richard G. Eberhart" on cover by Merrill Moore.
    • Folder b#1169-007.1.b
      The News of Massachusetts General Hospital No. 70 Boston, MA. [Newsletter] (July and August 1948) Periodical. Typescripts. 1 item. 3 p.
    • Folder c#1169-007.1.c
      Moore, Merrill. Letter sent to John Ciardi; Ciardi, John Letters sent to Merrill Moore; Memorandum on Psychology Test for creative imagination. [Correspondence] (1949-1951) TLS, Typescripts. 12 items. 16 p. Note: Discusses Edward Gorey, Moore's illustrator
    • Folder d#1169-007.1.d
      Moore, Merrill. Letter sent to Richard Eberhart from "Somewhere in the South Pacific" [Correspondence] (1943) TLS, Typescripts. 1 item. 4 p. Note: Discusses Moore's service as a U. S. Army psychiatrist in the South Pacific; program for Purple Heart citation ceremony for 85 soldiers with comments by Merrill Moore (included with the letter).
Series 2:
Loose Manuscripts from Book Collection
  • Box 1#1169-007.1
    • Folder e#1169-007.1.e
      Poet and Psychiatrist, by Henry W. Wells [Book] (1955) Printed. 1 item. 1 p. Note: Stuart Wright note: "Lewis Leary's copy" (undated) Holograph; includes biographical details of Moore's career; Transferred from Stuart Wright Book Collection #59.10
    • Folder f#1169-007.1.f
      Clinical Sonnets, by Merrill Moore [Book] (1949) Printed. 1 item. 2 p. Note: From book inscribed to Robert Penn Warren by Merrill Moore: Merrill Moore and Clinical Sonnets: A book about Proper and Improper Bostonians, Twayne Publishers, Inc. news release including biographical details of Moore's career (ca. 1949) Mimeographed typescript; Transferred from Stuart Wright Book Collection #59.18
    • Folder g#1169-007.1.g
      The Noise That Time Makes, by Merrill Moore [Book] (1929) Printed. 3 items. 3 p. Note: Photographic prints from book inscribed to John Crowe Ransom by Merrill Moore: Portrait of Merrill Moore in his military uniform; verso autographed "for John" signed "Merrill" (1943); Portrait of Merrill Moore captioned "Author of The Noise That Time Makes" (undated); X-Ray photograph of Merrill Moore's skull, autographed on face: "For John, as always, Merrill"; autographed on verso: "For John, with sincerest regards, as ever, Merrill;" Transferred from Stuart Wright Book Collection #59.23
    • Folder h#1169-007.1.h
      Clinical Sonnets, by Merrill Moore [Book] (1949) Printed. 1 item. 1 p. Note: From book inscribed to Milton Starr and Zeno Starr by Merrill Moore; Stuart Wright note: "The Dedication Copy" (undated) Holograph; Transferred from Stuart Wright Book Collection #59.25
    • Folder i#1169-007.1.i
      A Doctor's Book of Hours, by Merrill Moore [Book] (1955) Printed. 1 item. 1 p. Note: Bibliographical citation on index card: "Moore, M. A Doctor's Book of Hours . . . Ins to JCR [inscribed to John Crowe Ransom]" (undated) Holograph Transferred from Stuart Wright Book Collection #59.27
    • Folder j#1169-007.1.j
      Fugitive Sonnets, by Merrill Moore [Book] (1953) Printed. 1 item. 1 p. Note: From book inscribed to Robb Ransom and John Crowe Ransom; Stuart Wright note: "The Dedication Copy" (undated) Holograph; Transferred from Stuart Wright Book Collection #59.42
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This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Special Collections Division, J.Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University. The materials described here are physically available in our reading room. None of the original documents in this collection are digitally available online at this time.
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