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Stuart Wright Collection: Allen Tate Papers 1927–1996, undated

Manuscript Collection #1169-012

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

Title: Stuart Wright Collection: Allen Tate Papers
Creators: Tate, Allen [John Orley Allen], 1899-1979
Wright, Stuart T., 1948-
Repository: ECU Manuscript Collection
Languages: English; Latin
Abstract: Papers (1927-1996, undated) documenting the life and literary career of Allen Tate, the noted American poet, biographer, editor, essayist, novelist and educator, including manuscripts, proofs of published materials, printed materials & ephemera, loose manuscripts transferred from the Stuart Wright Book Collection, oversized materials, by or about Allen Tate, Ellen Glasgow, John Crowe Ransom, Peter Hillsman Taylor, Robert Penn Warren, Eudora Welty, and others; in English and Latin language.
Extent: 0.25 Cubic feet, 1 archival box, 1 oversized folder, 35 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 & 1 oversized folder; 35 items. 143 p. Papers (1927-1996, undated) documenting the life and literary career of Allen Tate, the noted American poet, biographer, editor, essayist, novelist and educator, including manuscripts, proofs of published materials, printed materials & ephemera, loose manuscripts transferred from the Stuart Wright Book Collection, oversized materials, by or about Allen Tate, Ellen Glasgow, John Crowe Ransom, Peter Hillsman Taylor, Robert Penn Warren, Eudora Welty, and others; in English and Latin language. 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 - Allen Tate Papers (#1169-012) 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, 11/6/2010; Container List revised by Krystal Cook, 11/19/2010; Final inventory by Krystal Cook, revised 1/27/2011; Finding aid draft by Dick Wolfe, 8/10/2011; Finding aid revised by Jonathan Dembo, 6/11/2012; Encoded by Jonathan Dembo, 7/9/2012; Encoding revised by Jonathan Dembo, 7/17/2012.


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

Allen Tate

Allen Tate was born John Orley Allen Tate near Winchester, in Clarke County, Kentucky, in 1899. His father, John Orley Tate was a businessman; his mother Eleanor Parke Custis, was from a Fairfax, Virginia family. Tate attended Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, Tennessee and graduated magna cum laude in 1922.

Tate became a founding editor of The Fugitive, a magazine of verse published out of Nashville, Tennessee, from 1922 to 1925. The magazine was named for the Fugitives, a group of Southern poets which included Tate and several poets with ties to Vanderbilt University including John Crowe Ransom, Robert Penn Warren, Donald Davidson, and Merrill Moore. The Fugitives practiced and defended formal technique in poetry. Politically, they defended the traditional Southern agrarian values against Northern, urban industrialization.

Tate published his first book of poems, Mr. Pope and Other Poems, in 1928. From 1944-1947, he edited The Sewanee Review, becoming important as a literary critic and mentor to younger poets such as Robert Lowell, John Berryman, and Randall Jarrell. Tate’s poetry includes The Mediterranean and Other Poems (1936); The Winter Sea (1944); Two Conceits for the Eye to Sing, If Possible (1950); and The Swimmers and Other Selected Poems (1970). In addition, he wrote biographies on Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis. His autobiographical texts were collected for Memories and Opinions, 1926-1974, published in 1975.

In 1924, Tate married the novelist Caroline Gordon. They divorced in 1959. They had a daughter Nancy born in 1924. He was later married to the poet Isabella Gardner, from 1959 until they divorced in 1966. He then married his former student at Minnesota Helen Heinz. They had three sons, one of whom died in an accident in infancy.

Allen Tate also taught English literature at various colleges, including the Women’s College of the University of North Carolina, Princeton, New York University, and the University of Minnesota where he taught from 1951 until his retirement in 1968. Tate died in Nashville, in 1979.

Stuart Wright

The Allen Tate 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 Allen Tate Papers consists of materials relating to Allen Tate, 1927-1996, undated. It contains manuscripts, printed materials, loose manuscripts transferred from the Stuart Wright Book Collection, and oversized proofs, primarily relating to Allen Tate, and his friends and fellow writers Peter Hillsman Taylor, Cleanth Brooks, Robert Penn Warren, Eudora Welty, William Faulkner, John Updike. The Allen Tate Papers consists of 1 archival box and 1 oversized folder and is arranged in original order in four series.

Series 1: Manuscript Materials consists of correspondence and literary essays, relating to Allen Tate, Mary L. Richmond, Ellen Glasgow, Craig Abbott, T. H. Howard-Hill, and Stuart Wright, 1967-1996. Perhaps the most significant of these files consists of Tate’s correspondence with Craig Abbot and T. H. Howard-Hill regarding publication of Two Conceits by Allen Tate. Series one is held in Box 1.a – 1.d

Series 2: Proofs and Printed Materials consists of pamphlets, brochures & reprints by and about Allen Tate, 1927-1974. Perhaps the most significant file in this series consists of six copies of Two Conceits by Allen Tate, three of which are inscribed to various friends. Series two is contained in Box 1.e - 1.g.

Series 3: Loose Manuscripts from Stuart Wright Book Collection consists of loose items, 1928-1986, undated, transferred from books found in the Stuart Wright Book Collection and arranged in original order. The loose manuscripts items include correspondence, clippings, photographic prints, typescripts, ephemera, primarily relating to Allen Tate, but also including items relating to Peter Hillsman Taylor, Cleanth Brooks, Robert Penn Warren, Eudora Welty, William Faulkner and John Updike. 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 three is held in Box 1.h – 1.u

Series 4: Oversized Materials consists of on oversized folder of proofs of The Buried Lake Part VI, by Allen Tate which appeared in the Sewanee Review in 1953. Series four is held in Folder 1.v.os.1.

Note to Researchers: Series 3: Loose Manuscripts from Stuart Wright Book Collection consists of loose items, 1928-1986, undated, transferred from books found in the Stuart Wright Book Collection and arranged in original order. The loose manuscripts items include correspondence, clippings, photographic prints, typescripts, ephemera, primarily relating to Allen Tate, but also including items relating to Peter Hillsman Taylor, Cleanth Brooks, Robert Penn Warren, Eudora Welty, William Faulkner and John Updike. 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 three is held in Box 1.h – 1.u

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#1169-012.1
    • Folder a#1169-012.1.a
      Wright, Stuart. Correspondence with Craig Abbott & T. H. Howard-Hill regarding publication of Allen Tate's Two Conceits [Correspondence] (17 July - 30 Aug. 1996) TLS & Holograph notes. 4 items. 10 p.
    • Folder b#1169-012.1.b
      Harry Duncan & Cummington Press, by Mary L. Richmond, Fine Print, Vol. 4, no. 1 [Literary Essays] (Jan. 1978), pp. 1-4, 4-10 Photocopy clipping. 1 item. 10 p.
    • Folder c#1169-012.1.c
      Cummington Press, The, by Mary L. Richmond, Books at Iowa, no. 7 [Literary Essays] (Nov. 1967), pp. 9-31 Photocopy clipping & Holograph notes. 2 items. 14 p.
    • Folder d#1169-012.1.d
      Ellen Glasgow - Allen Tate Correspondence, The: Bridging the Southern Literary Generation Gap, by Unknown Author [Literary Essays] (ca. 1984) Mimeographed typescript. 1 item. 11 p.
Series 2:
Printed Materials
  • Box 1#1169-012.1
    • Folder e#1169-012.1.e
      Two Conceits by Allen Tate, Cummington Press © 1950 [Pamphlets] (1950) Printed. 6 items. 60 p. Note: Six copies; three copies inscribed & autographed December 1949: "To Milton and Zaro Merry Christmas Allen 1949"; "To Fannie and John with love, Allen Christmas 1949"; "To Hans to record his visit. December 30, 1949. Allen. Princeton".
    • Folder f#1169-012.1.f
      Mermaid Poetry 1974 Autumn Season. Celebrate the 75th Birthday of Allen Tate [Brochures] (24 Nov. 1974) Printed. 1 item. 2 p. Note: Mermaid Theatre, Blackfriars London; Annotated "For George from Don."
    • Folder g#1169-012.1.g
      Poetry and the Absolute, by Allen Tate, Sewanee Review [Literary Essays] (Jan. - March 1927), pp. 41-52 Reprint. 1 item. 6 p. Note: Inscribed to John Crowe Ransom; annotated by Ransom in margins.
Series 3:
Loose Manuscript Items Transferred from Book Collection
  • Box 1#1169-012.1
    • Folder h#1169-012.1.h
      Translation of Poetry, The, by Allen Tate [Books] (1972) 1 item. 1 p. Note: Allen Tate, Christmas card to Peter and Eleanor Taylor with sentiment (1972) Printed; Transferred from Stuart Wright Book Collection #52.66
    • Folder i#1169-012.1.i
      Poems 1922-1947, by Allen Tate [Books] (1948) 1 item. 1 p. Note: "The Eye" from Poems 1922-1947" by Allen Tate (ca. 1948) Carbon typescript; Transferred from Stuart Wright Book Collection #52.68
    • Folder j#1169-012.1.j
      Vigil of Venus, The, translated by Allen Tate [Books] (1986) 1 item. 1 p. Note: Cleanth Brooks, New Haven, CT, Agreement verifying that he has sold to Stuart Wright books and periodicals written by Robert Penn Warren, Eudora Welty, Allen Tate, William Faulkner, and John Updike (9 April 1986) Edited typescript; Transferred from Stuart Wright Book Collection #52.74
    • Folder k#1169-012.1.k
      Fathers, The, by Allen Tate [Books] (1939) 1 item. 1 p. Note: "Allen Tate April 12, 1939" card (ca. 1939) Holograph; Stuart Wright Book Collection #52.75
    • Folder l#1169-012.1.l
      Mr. Pope and Other Poems [Alexander Pope], by Allen Tate [Books] (1928) 1 item. 1 p. Note: Summertime portrait of a woman seated on a garden wall (ca. 1928) Photographic print; Black & white; 2-5/16" x 2.5"; Transferred from Stuart Wright Book Collection #52.76
    • Folder m#1169-012.1.m
      Poems 1922-1947, by Allen Tate [Books] (1949) 2 items. 7 p. Note: "Two Epigrams by Allen Tate" (21 April 1967) Printed; "Seasons of the Soul", by Allen Tate (undated) Carbon typescript; Latin and English language; Transferred from Stuart Wright Book Collection #52.78
    • Folder n#1169-012.1.n
      On the Limits of Poetry, by Allen Tate [Books] (1947) 1 item 1 p. Note: Allen Tate, Trade Department, Henry Holt and Company, Inc., Publishers, Letter to Robert Penn Warren, Department of English, University of Minnesota, regarding the poetry of John Palmer and Bill Clark's book The Bull Moon (14 April 1947) TLS & Holograph annotations; Transferred from Stuart Wright Book Collection #52.83
    • Folder o#1169-012.1.o
      Memoirs and Opinions, by Allen Tate [Books] (1975) 1 item. 1 p. Note: Review card for Upstate, by Jonathan Yardley, from The New York Times Book Review to George Core (ca. 7 July 1957) Edited printed form; Transferred from Stuart Wright Book Collection #52.84
    • Folder p#1169-012.1.p
      Swimmers and Other Selected Poems, The, by Allen Tate [Books] (1961) 1 item. 1 p. Note: Christmas post card from Isabella and Allen Tate to Mr. and Mrs. Brainerd Cheney (14 December 1961) ALS; Transferred from Stuart Wright Book Collection #52.86
    • Folder q#1169-012.1.q
      Poems 1922-1947, by Allen Tate [Books] (1948) 1 item. 1 p. Note: "Ophelia" by Daisy Aldan & "My Bohemia" by Louise Varèse (ca. 1948) Clipping; Transferred from Stuart Wright Book Collection #52.87
    • Folder r#1169-012.1.r
      Selected Poems, by Allen Tate [Books] (1938) 1 item. 2 p. Note: Allen Tate, Department of English, The Woman's College of the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, Letter to Nettie Tillett in appreciation for her note about his novel The Fathers (1 November 1938) ALS; Transferred from Stuart Wright Book Collection #52.90
    • Folder s#1169-012.1.s
      Winter Sea, The, by Allen Tate [Books] (1944) 2 items. 4 p. Note: Allen Tate, Editor, The Sewanee Review, Letter to Mr. and Mrs. [Peter Hillsman] Taylor (8 July 1944) ALS; Mr. & Mrs. John Orley Allen Tate, Garrett Park, Maryland, Invitation to the wedding of their daughter to Sgt. & Mrs. Peter Taylor, Chattanooga, Tennessee (7 January 1944) Printed card; Transferred from Stuart Wright Book Collection #52.91
    • Folder t#1169-012.1.t
      American Harvest: Twenty Years of Creative Writing in the United States, edited by Allen Tate [Books] (1968) 2 items. 3 p. Note: Allen Tate, Sewanee, Tennessee, Christmas letter to Mr. and Mrs. Brainerd Cheney, Smyrna, Tennessee (December 1968) Printed; Stuart Wright post-it note: "Also signed by RPW . . . ANL . . . EW . . . EC . . . KS" with page numbers (undated) Holograph; Transferred from Stuart Wright Book Collection #52.92
    • Folder u#1169-012.1.u
      Unidentified Volume. "Allen Tate in reference to woman in Game of Chess . . . & Ecclesiastes xii . . ." [Transcripts] (1960) Typescript. 1 items. 1 p. Note: Quotation from "Game of Chess" & Quotation from Ecclesiastes xii. 1-8 ending "Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity"; Transferred from an unidentified book in the Stuart Wright Book Collections #00-000
Series 4:
Oversized Materials
Oversize Folder 1#1169-012.1
Buried Lake Part VI of a Poem of Some Length, Now in Progress, The, by Allen Tate, Sewanee Review [Poems] (4 February [1953] Edited Author's Proof. 2 items. 4 p. Note: Includes two edited versions of the poem; published in Sewanee Review, 61 (Spring 1953), 177-80. Transferred from 1169-012.1.v.
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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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