Hilary Masters was born, Hilary Thomas Masters, in 1928, in Kansas City, Missouri. Masters was named for an ancestor who fought in the American Revolution. He was the son of Edgar Lee Masters (1886-1950), the famous and prolific America poet; but Hilary determined very early that he would not be a poet like his father. His mother, Ellen Frances Coyne Masters (1899-), an English teacher, school administrator, and college professor, was his father's second wife. Masters attended Davidson College, in Davidson, NC, 1944-1946, and then served as a naval correspondent in the U. S. Navy, 1946-1947. After leaving the Navy, Masters completed his B. A. degree at Brown University in 1949.
After graduating from Brown, Masters worked for Bennett & Pleasant, press agents for musicians and dancers in New York, NY. From 1953-1956, he was an independent theatrical press agent for off Broadway and summer theaters. He then moved to Hyde Park, NY where he became a reporter for the Hyde Park Record, 1956-1959. In the 1960s, he ran for office as a Democrat in New York's 100th Assembly District and worked as a freelance photographer for Image Bank and exhibits.
Masters published his first novel,
The Common Pasture, in 1967. He wrote several other novels, including
Clemmons (1985) and
Cooper (1987). He also wrote biographies but was best-known for his short stories, which he collected in
Hammertown Tales (1987), which were published by Stuart Wright, and his memoir
Last Stands: Notes from Memory (1982) in which he recounted his family history.
Masters taught creative writing at a number of universities, including the University of North Carolina, Greensboro; Drake University; Clark University; Ohio University; and the University of Denver. He was a professor of English at Carnegie-Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, PA from 1983-2015.
Masters was married to Polly Jo McCulloch from 1955 until their divorce in 1986. They had three children. In 1994, he remarried to Kathleen George, who teaches writing at the University of Pittsburgh. He died in Pittsburgh on 14 June 2015. He was survived by his wife Kathleen and his three children from his first marriage.
"Hilary Masters", by Sigrid Kelsey [Biographical Sketch]
Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 244: American Short-Story Writers since World War II, Fourth Series. Patrick Meanor Joseph McNicholas, eds. The Gale Group, 2001, pp. 239-245.
"Hilary Masters, Novelist and Son of American Poet, Dies at 87". [Obituary] by Sam Roberts,
New York Times, (28 June 2015)
"Obituary: Hilary Masters / Writer, teacher called 'a true man of letters' [Obituary] by Dana Nelson Jones.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (15 June 2015)
"Hilary Masters -- The Common Pasture Manuscripts, 1965-1968 (#TXRC96-A43)". 1.5 boxes (.62 linear feet)
Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center University of Texas at Austin, TX.
"Edgar Lee Masters Papers, 1928-1946".
John Hay Library, Special Collections, Box A, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912. Note: Masters' papers consist largely of his correspondence with his son, Hilary Masters.
Author: Jonathan Dembo, with the assistance of Dale Wetterhahn, 4/14/2016, rev. 2/23/2017, 3/17/2017.
Stuart Wright collected and compiled the Shirley Bowers Anders Papers. He was born, Stuart Thurman Wright, 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, illustrators, composers, 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