Lillabulero Press, Limited, was a small literary press founded and edited by Russell Banks and William Matthews in 1964. Both men were then students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Lillabulero Press published 14 issues of a literary magazine called
Lillabulero, 1965-1974. At first the press published in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; however, after the fifth issue of
Lillabulero appeared, the press moved to Northwood Narrows, NC.
Lillabulero contained poetry and prose works by new or unknown writers; it also featured discussions of modern literary trends and theories. In addition to the magazine, Lillabulero Press also published a series of chapbooks and pamphlets, in both prose and poetry. In 1974,
Lillabulero ceased publication so that Banks and Matthews might pursue their individual literary ambitions.
Lillabulero comes from an English tune that dates at least from the 1640s and was popular as a marching song in the British Army during American colonial times.
Russell Banks was born in Newton, Massachusetts on 28 March 1940. He is known, principally, as a writer of fiction and poetry that focuses on domestic life and daily struggles. His plots draw on his own life experiences. His father deserted the family when Russell was 12. He attended Colgate University on a scholarship, in the late 1950s, but dropped out after a few weeks intending to join Fidel Castro’s army in Cuba. He got as far as Lakeland, Florida where he got a job in a department store, got married to sales clerk, and had a daughter. In 1964, Banks moved to Massachusetts and married a second time, to Mary Gunst, whose family supported his return to school. Banks enrolled at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in 1964. There, he met fellow student William Matthews and, together, they established Lillabulero Press, Limited, and published
Lillabulero literary magazine. He also became involved in leftwing politics with Students for a Democratic Society and demonstrated for civil rights.
Banks published his first novel,
Family Life in 1975, and subsequently published 11 novels since then. He also published 6 collections of short stories beginning in 1975 with
Searching for Survivors. He has also published two volumes of poetry and three nonfiction works. His works have been translated into 20 languages and he has received numerous awards and literary honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship (1976) and the John Dos Passos Prize (1985). On two occasions, he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction:
Continental Drift (1986) and
In 1976, Banks divorced his second wife after 14 years of marriage and was subsequently married to Harper & Row editor, Kathy Walton, for five years. He is currently married to Chase Twichell. He has four daughters from his previous marriages.
William Matthews was born William Procter Matthews, on 11 November 1942 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He attended Berkshire School and earned a B.A. from Yale University (1965) and a M.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1966). In addition his role as co-editor and co-publisher of
Lillabulero, Matthews is known mainly as a poet and essayist. He was also an educator and served as writer in residence at several universities, including Cornell University, the University of Colorado at Boulder, and the University of Iowa. He was a professor of English at the University of Washington at Seattle (1978-1983). He was then professor of English and director of the creative writing program at the City College of New York (1983-1997).
Matthews' first major collection of poetry was
Ruining the New Road: Poems (1970), Matthews wrote 11 volumes of poetry and received much acclaim, including a National Book Critics Circle Award for
Time & Money (1996). In his writings themes of life cycles, the passage of time, and human consciousness. His poetry also examines his own interests, including jazz, basketball, and his children.
In 1963 Matthews married Marie Murray Harris; but this marriage, and two later marriages all ended in divorce. Matthews died 12 November 1997 in New York, NY, at age 55, of an apparent heart attack according to his companion, Celia Bellinger. Matthews is survived by his mother, a sister, two sons, and two grandchildren.
"Russell Banks [Biographical Sketch]".
"Road Signs", by Leigh Ann Couch,
Indy Week Arts Feature (29 March 2000)
"Russell Banks, The Art of Fiction No. 152 [Interview]" by Robert Faggen.
The Paris Review, Issue 147 (Summer 1998)
"Russell Banks Papers (MS-4899)" 53.76 lin. ft.
Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin.
"William Matthews, 1942-1997 [Biographical Sketch]".
"William Matthews (Poet) [Biographical Sketch]"
"William Matthews (Obituary)", by Eric Page,
New York Times (14 November 1997), p. D19.
Author: Jonathan Dembo, with the assistance of Dale Wetterhahn, 4/14/2016, rev. 2/23/2017, 3/20/2017.
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