|Title:||Stuart Wright Collection: Peter Hillsman Taylor Papers|
Taylor, Peter, 1917-1994
Wright, Stuart T., 1948-
|Repository:||ECU Manuscript Collection|
|Abstract:||Papers (1908-1995, undated) documenting the life and literary career of Peter Hillsman Taylor, the noted American short story writer, novelist, biographer, and playwright, who specialized in subjects related to the Upper South, including manuscript materials and correspondence, especially his World War II letters to his wife, Eleanor Ross Taylor; proofs of published materials; loose manuscripts from the Stuart Wright Book Collection; and oversized materials, by or about Peter Hillsman Taylor, Madison Smartt Bell, Robert Penn Warren, Eudora Welty, and others, in English and French language.|
|Extent:||3.045 Cubic feet, 8 archival boxes, 3 oversized folders, 733 items.|
21 June 2010, 3.045 cubic feet; 8 archival boxes & 3 oversized folders; 733 items. 2,868 p. Papers (1908-1995, undated) documenting the life and literary career of Peter Hillsman Taylor, the noted American short story writer, novelist, biographer, and playwright, who specialized in subjects related to the Upper South, including manuscript materials and correspondence, especially his World War II letters to his wife, Eleanor Ross Taylor; proofs of published materials; loose manuscripts from the Stuart Wright Book Collection; and oversized materials, by or about Peter Hillsman Taylor, Madison Smartt Bell, Robert Penn Warren, Eudora Welty, and others. Vendor: Stuart Wright.
Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.
Stuart Wright Collection - Peter Hillsman Taylor Papers (#1169-013) East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA
Processed, Container list & Preliminary inventory, by Jonathan Dembo, with the assistance of Krystal Cook & Saundra Pinkham, revised 11/19/2010; Final inventory by Krystal Cook, revised 2/2/2011; Finding aid by Dick Wolfe, 8/10/2011; revised by Jonathan Dembo, 6/11/2012; Encoding revised by Jonathan Dembo, 7/9/2013, 7/17/2012.
Peter Hillsman Taylor
Peter Matthew Hillsman Taylor was born on 8 January 1917 in Trenton, Tennessee into a wealthy and influential literary and political family. In the 1886 Tennessee gubernatorial race, Taylor grandfather, great-grandfather, and grand-uncle all were leading candidates. Taylor’s grandfather, Robert Love Taylor who eventually won the 1886 race was also a writer. Taylor’s father, Matthew Hillsman Taylor, was a lawyer, who rose to become president of the General American Life Insurance Company.
The Taylor family moved frequently due to the requirements of his father’s career, eventually settling in Memphis, Tennessee, where Peter graduated from high school in 1935. Taylor then entered Southwestern University, in Memphis (now Rhodes College) in 1936. While there he studied under John Crowe Ransom. When Ransom left Southwestern to teach at Kenyon College in Ohio, Taylor followed him.
At Kenyon, Taylor met fellow students and writers Robert Lowell and Randall Jarrell. The collection includes correspondence with Jean Stafford, Lowell’s wife. Taylor and Lowell transferred to Louisiana State University, in 1939-1940, where they studied under Robert Penn Warren and Cleanth Brooks.
Taylor was drafted in 1940 and served five years as a sergeant in the Army during World War II. He was stationed in Dulverton, Somerset, England for most of this time, assigned to the 12th Replacement Depot. Prior to entering the service, he married the poetess Eleanor Ross, and his letters to her during the war form a large part of this collection.
Following the war Taylor taught English literature at various colleges and universities, including the Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Kenyon College, Ohio State University, Harvard, and the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, where he lived from 1967 until his death in 1994.
Taylor is best known for his short stories, his biography of Randall Jarrell, and several novels and plays. He won numerous literary fellowships, grants, and awards. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1950 and in 1951 received a National Institute of Arts and Letters grant. In 1979, he won the gold medal for literature from the National Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. He received the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. He died 2 November 1994, in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The Peter Hillsman Taylor 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.
The Peter Hillsman Taylor Papers are arranged in original order (except as indicated below) in five series.
Series 1: Manuscript Materials and Correspondence consists of correspondence, 1935-1995, relating to Peter Hillsman Taylor and his wife, Eleanor Ross Taylor. Perhaps the most interesting correspondence consists of Taylor’s letters to his wife during his World War II military service, ca. 1943-1945. He wrote home from his posts at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, Camp Butner, North Carolina and Dulverton, Somerset, England, where he was stationed with the 12th Replacement Depot. Also included are World War II letters from his military comrades, ca. 1940-1946. Taylor’s letters deal with family matters but also literary and professional matters, his various literary friends and their doings. Many of Taylor’s letters describe his life and friendships in the military and in Dulverton. Series one also includes a typescript of William Goyen’s unpublished novel Half a Look of Caine and a public relations file for Madison Smartt Bell’s novel, Save Me, Joe Louis. It also includes a letter from William Empson requesting that he forward an enclosure to Robert Lowell, and Taylor’s 1935 passport. Series one is held in Box 1.a – 6.d
Series 2: Uncorrected Proofs consists uncorrected proofs of published works, 1944-1986, including Gloria Norris’ Looking for Bobby; Jean Stafford’s Boston Adventure: A Novel; Sylvia Wilkinson’s Moss on the North Side; Madison Jones’ A Cry of Absence,]; and James Dickey’s Deliverance. It also includes a proof of Peter Hillsman Taylor’s A Summons to Memphis: A Novel. Series two is contained in Box 7.a - 7.f.
Series 3: Loose Manuscripts from the Stuart Wright Book Collection consists of loose manuscript and other materials found between the leaves of volumes in the Stuart Wright Book Collection. The material consists of notes, letters, clippings, photographs, printed material and ephemera, 1908-1987, relating to Shelby Foote, Andrew Lytle, Robert Penn Warren and Eudora Welty among others. A number of the items consist of notes by Stuart Wright identifying people mentioned in the items. 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 8.a – 8.p
Series 4: Oversized Materials consists of three oversized folders containing two proofs and a printed broadside, ca. 1940-1985, including the edited author’s proof of A Spinster’s Tale by Peter Hillsman Taylor and an author’s galley proof of Madison Smartt Jones’ The Fugitives. It also includes a printed poster or broadside for a film narrated by Peter Taylor, entitled The Old Forest from the Story by Peter Taylor. Series four is held in Oversized Folder 1.o.os.1 – 8.p.os.1.
Note to Researchers: Series 3: Loose Manuscripts from the Stuart Wright Book Collection consists of loose manuscripts and other materials found between the leaves of volumes in the Stuart Wright Book Collection. The material consists of notes, letters, clippings, photographs, printed material and ephemera, 1908-1987, relating to Shelby Foote, Andrew Lytle, Robert Penn Warren and Eudora Welty among others. A number of the items consist of notes by Stuart Wright identifying people mentioned in the items. 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 8.a – 8.p