Stuart Wright Collection: Sam Witt Papers, 1993-2008

Manuscript Collection #1169-040

  • Descriptive Summary
     
    Title: Stuart Wright Collection: Sam Witt Papers
    Creator: Witt, Sam, III, (Samuel Brown), b. 1970
    Repository: ECU Manuscript Collection
    Language: English
    Abstract: Papers of Sam Witt (1993-2008) documenting the life and literary career of the noted English-born poet, journalist and educator at University of Iowa and other universities; including letters to Stuart Wright, typescript manuscript of Elegy of a Living Man, by Sam Witt; also loose manuscript items transferred from the Stuart Wright Book Collection.
    Extent: 0.25 Cubic feet, 0.25 Cubic feet, 1 archival box, 13 items, 143 p.,
  • Description
     

    The Stuart Wright Collection: Sam Witt Papers document the life and literary career of Sam [Brown] Witt, III (1970-), the noted Wimbledon, England-born, North Carolina-raised American poet, who has published several volumes of poetry, Everlasting Quail, (2001) Sunflower Brother, (2006), who attended the Iowa Writers Workshop and has taught at University of California at Berkeley, the University of Iowa, Harvard University, and Whitman College. The materials are arranged, in original order, in a single series.

    Series 1: Cary Addition #1 20 July 2012, (Ludlow Addition #2), 0.25 cubic feet; 1 archival box; 13 items; 143 p. Papers (1993-2008) documenting the life and literary career of Sam [Brown] Witt, III (b. 1970), the noted Wimbledon, England-born, North Carolina-raised American poet, who has published several volumes of poetry, Everlasting Quail (2001) and Sunflower Brother (2006), and who attended the Iowa Writers Workshop and has taught at University of California at Berkeley, the University of Iowa, Harvard University, and Whitman College, including letters to Stuart Wright, typescript manuscript of Sam Brown Witt's MA thesis Elegy of a Living Man, (1995) by Sam Brown Witt and loose manuscript items transferred from the Stuart Wright Book Collection. Series 1 is housed in Box 1.a-1.d.

  • Biographical / Historical Note
     

    Sam Witt was born Samuel Brown Witt, III, in Wimbledon, England in 1970. He moved with his family to the United States when he was seven. He grew up in North Carolina and Virginia and graduated from the University of Virginia with a bachelor's degree in English literature. Witt went on to receive his MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1995. His thesis was entitled Elegy of a Living Man. In 2001 he published his first book, Everlasting Quail, using the University Press of New England. Witt has gone on to author award winning poetry and one other book, Sunflower Brother (2006).

    Sources:

    "Sam Witt Poetry". About. http://www.samwittpoetry.com/

    Author: Jonathan Dembo with the assistance of John Leche, 10/07/2017.

    Stuart Wright collected and compiled the Sam Brown Papers. 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 106 sub-collections of the papers of Southern American writers, composers, illustrators, and publishers. 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.

    Author: Jonathan Dembo, 11/2/2016

  • Administrative Information
     
    Accessions Information

    20 July 2012, (Ludlow Addition #2), 0.25 cubic feet; 1 archival box; 13 items; 143 p. Papers (1993-2008) documenting the life and literary career of Sam [Brown] Witt, III (b. 1970), the noted English-born poet, journalist & educator at University of Iowa and other universities, including letters to Stuart Wright, typescript manuscript of Elegy of a Living Man, by Sam Brown Witt and loose manuscript items transferred from the Stuart Wright Book Collection. Vendor: Stuart Wright

    Acquisition Information

    Purchased from Stuart Wright, 7/20/2012

    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: Sam Witt Papers (#1169-040) East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA

    Processing Information

    Processing, Preliminary inventory & Container List, by Jonathan Dembo, with the assistance of Nathaniel King & Dale Wetterhahn, 3/4/2014, 2/8/2016, 5/25/2016; Final inventory by Jonathan Dembo, 3/28/2016; Finding aid by Jonathan Dembo, 3/28/2016; Biographical Sketch, by Jonathan Dembo with the assistance of John Leche, 10/7/2016, rev. 11/2/2016; Encoding revised by Jonathan Dembo, 01/27/2017.

Container List

  • Ludlow Addition to Stuart Wright Collection
     

    • Manuscript Typescripts
       

      • Box 1
         
        Elegy of a Living Man, by Samuel Brown Witt, University of Iowa, MFA Thesis (May 1995) Typescript. 1 item. 119 p. ; Note : Source : Ludlow Addition Box #165.008
        Witt, Sam, Iowa City, IA. Letters to Stuart Wright, Winston-Salem, NC (1993-1995, undated) ALS, TLS, Envelopes. 10 items. 21 p. ; Note : Concerns poetry, literature, death of Peter Hillsman Taylor, travel, health, etc. ; Source : Ludlow Addition Box #165.008
    • Loose Manuscript Items Transferred from the Stuart Wright Books
       

      • Box 1
         
        Everlasting Quail, by Sam Witt (© 2001) Note : 1) Samuel Brown Witt, III. Note enclosed with Everlasting Quail "Best wishes" (28 Dec. 2001) ALS. 1 item. 1 p. ; Source : Ludlow Addition Box #165.033
        Sunflower Brother, by Sam Witt (© 2007) Note : 1) Samuel Brown Witt, III. Christmas letter to Stuart Wright with news of family and friends (2 Jan. 2008) ALS & Envelope. 1 item. 2 p. ; Source : Ludlow Addition Box #165.034

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Container List

  • Ludlow Addition to Stuart Wright Collection
     

    • Manuscript Typescripts
       

      • Box 1
         
        Elegy of a Living Man, by Samuel Brown Witt, University of Iowa, MFA Thesis (May 1995) Typescript. 1 item. 119 p. ; Note : Source : Ludlow Addition Box #165.008
        Witt, Sam, Iowa City, IA. Letters to Stuart Wright, Winston-Salem, NC (1993-1995, undated) ALS, TLS, Envelopes. 10 items. 21 p. ; Note : Concerns poetry, literature, death of Peter Hillsman Taylor, travel, health, etc. ; Source : Ludlow Addition Box #165.008
    • Loose Manuscript Items Transferred from the Stuart Wright Books
       

      • Box 1
         
        Everlasting Quail, by Sam Witt (© 2001) Note : 1) Samuel Brown Witt, III. Note enclosed with Everlasting Quail "Best wishes" (28 Dec. 2001) ALS. 1 item. 1 p. ; Source : Ludlow Addition Box #165.033
        Sunflower Brother, by Sam Witt (© 2007) Note : 1) Samuel Brown Witt, III. Christmas letter to Stuart Wright with news of family and friends (2 Jan. 2008) ALS & Envelope. 1 item. 2 p. ; Source : Ludlow Addition Box #165.034


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