Papers of John Crowe Ransom (1904-2000, undated) documenting the life and literary career of the noted Pulaski, Tennessee-born American editor, poet, literary critic, and educator, including correspondence, manuscripts, photographic prints, proofs of published materials, printed material, audio recordings, loose manuscript items transferred from the Stuart Wright Book Collection and oversized materials, by or about W. H. Auden, Christopher Isherwood, T. S. Eliot, Robert Penn Warren, Richard Ghormley Eberhart, Randall Jarrell, Katherine Anne Porter, William Styron, Allen Tate, Peter Hillsman Taylor, and others, in English and French language.
During the First World War, Ransom again interrupted his career to enter the U. S. Army. He served as an artillery officer in France. While in France, he attended the University of Nancy. After the war, he returned to Vanderbilt to teach English literature. In 1920, he married Robb Reavill; they raised three children. Ransom remained at Vanderbilt University until 1937, when he left for a similar position at Kenyon College, in Gambier, Ohio. At Kenyon, from 1937-1959, Ransom continued to teach Enlish literature and became the founding editor of the Kenyon Review.
During his career, at Vanderbilt and Kenyon, Ransom taught or influenced many of the most significant American authors of the twentieth century. Among Ransom's many distinguished students are Donald Davidson, Randall Jarrell, Robert Lowell, Andrew Lytle, Allen Tate, Peter Taylor, Robie Macauley, Robert Penn Warren, E.L. Doctorow, Cleanth Brooks, Richard M. Weaver, and Constantinos Patrides, who was himself a Rhodes Scholar and who dedicated his book on John Milton's Lycidas to Ransom's memory.
Among Ransom's most notable works are: Poems about God (1919), Chills and Fever (1924), and Selected Poems (1945, 1963, 1969). The collection includes significant materials relating to all these works. The collection contains material from 1904 to 1990. While at Vanderbilt, Ransom became a leading figure among the Fugitive and Agrarian groups of writers and contributed to their various publications, including The Fugitive (1922-1925) and I'll Take My Stand (1930). Ransom retired in 1959, but continued to write and to publish. He died in 1974, aged 86, in Gambier, Ohio.
Sources: "John Crowe Ransom." [Briographical Sketch] Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Crowe_Ransom
Author: 11/3/2011, revised 4/11/2012, 5/17/2013, 11/21/2013, 11/1/2016
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.
Stuart Wright Collection: John Crowe Ransom Papers (#1169-010) documents the life and literary career of John Crowe Ransom, 1904-2000, undated. The Ransom Papers are arranged in original order (except as indicated below) in 15 series. The collection consists of an original acquisition of 13 series and the Cary Addition #1 & Ludlow Addition #2. The collection includes correspondence, literary essays, poetry manuscripts, manuscript volumes, clippings, original art, photographic materials, audio recordings, loose manuscript items transferred from the Stuart Wright Book Collection, printed materials and oversized materials.
Series 1: Letters Received consists of letters received by John Crowe Ransom, 1918-1965, primarily relating to his publications but also including personal letters to family and friends. It includes two notable groups of letters relating to writers Delmore Schwartz, Allen Tate, and Robert Penn Warren. Series 1 is held in Box 1.a – 1.k
Series 2: Letters Sent consists of letter sent by John Crowe Ransom, 1917-1961, to writers John Ciardi, Marc Jaffe, Richard Ghormley Eberhart, Allen Tate, Louis Untermeyer, and Edward L. Anderson. Perhaps the most interesting letter in the series, however, is a letter Ransom sent during World War I, when he was in France, serving as a lieutenant in the Field Artillery. He wrote to a fellow officer named "George", in December 1917, when he was anticipating being court martialed for violating military police rules. The letter requests that George write a testimonial on his behalf. Series 2 is held in Box 1.l - 1.o.
Series 3: Literary Essays consists of three typescripts of literary essays by John Crowe Ransom, ca. 1953-1958, undated, and an undated essay by Caroline Gordon, including manuscripts of American Poetry at Mid-Century, On Shakespeare's Language, and Responsible Criticism. Gordon's untitled essay relates to Isak Dinesen, Katherine Anne Porter, and Gertrude Duby-Blom. Series 3 is held in Box 1.p – 1.s
Series 4: Poetry Manuscripts consists of manuscript versions of poems by John Crowe Ransom, including the 1945 edition of Selected Poems. It also includes a one page poem by Robert Lowell entitled On Hearing of Richard Eberhart's Gain in Weight. Series 4 is held in Box 1.t – 1.v
Series 5: Manuscript Volumes consists of the Guest Book of John, Rob, Revell, and Helen Ransom, containing entries dated 27 December 1933 – 9 September 1934. Series 5 is held in Box 1.w
Series 6: Clippings consists of a incomplete clipping of an interview with William DeWitt Snodgrass by "E. S." published in The American Poetry Review of July/August 1990 in which Snodgrass discusses his literary influences including Robert Lowell and Randall Jarrell. The beginning and end of the interview is missing. Series 6 is held in Box 1.x
Series 7: Original Art consists of two copies of John Crowe Ransom's Phi Beta Kappa membership certificate, 15 June 1909, done in multi-colored calligraphy; also a pen and ink sketch or caricature of Robert Penn Warren, by Taylor Jones of the Sunday Gazette-Mail, 1976. Series 7 is held in Box 1.y – 1.z
Series 8: Photographic Prints (Arranged Chronologically) consists of photographs of John Crowe Ransom, Robert Penn Warren, and Gilbert Chesterton, and their friends, families, and associates, ca. 1904-1980. It includes photographic prints of Ransom's college career at Vanderbilt University, camping trips and other family activities, publicity and dust jacket photographs of both Ransom and Warren; it also includes photographs of Ransom and Warren lecturing to college students, writing, and reading; it includes a notable photograph of President Jimmy Carter awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Robert Penn Warren autographed by the President. Series 8 is held in Box 2.a – 2.ze
Series 9: Audio Recordings consists of a single reel-to-reel audio tape recording John Crowe Ransom speaking at "U of A" in 1967. Series 9 is held in Box 2.zf
Series 10: Loose Manuscripts Transferred 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, 1936-1980, relating to John Crowe Ransom, W. H. Auden, T. S. Eliot, Christopher Isherwood, Robert Penn Warren, Richard Eberhart, and their publications. Many 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 10 is held in Box 2.zg – 2.zza
Series 11: Contracts, Posters, and Printed Forms consists of John Crowe Ransom's contracts with publishers, the poster from the Lotos Club State Dinner honoring Robert Penn Warren, Randal Jarrell's Phi Beta Kappa certificate from Vanderbilt University, the certificate for Ransom's burial plot, Ransom's World War I military identification card and his diploma from University de Nancy. Series 11 is held in Box 3.a – 3.p
Series 12: Printed Materials consists of flyers, brochures, pamphlets and other printed materials by John Crowe Ransom, Reynolds Price, and Anthony Harwood, 1936-1970 undated. It includes a printed letter by Ransom announcing the discontinuance of The Southern Review during World War II and its replacement by Kenyon Review; it also includes a printed brochure, for the Committee for the Alliance of Agrarian and Distributist Groups, Nashville, Tennessee, signed by Ransom among others; also Ten Poems, a pamphlet by Anthony Harwood; and a pamphlet entitled Wanted: An Ontological Critic, by John Crowe Ransom, reprinted in 1970. Series 12 is held in Box 3.q – 3.v
Series 13: Oversized Materials consists of five oversized proofs of John Crowe Ransom's published works: The Planetary Poet (1964), Selected Poems (1963), Selected Poems (1944), and Gerontion (1968). Series 13 is held in Folder 1.l.os.1 – 3.v.os.1
Series 14: Cary Addition #1 to the Stuart Wright Collection contains an audio recording created by Lee Anderson for John Crowe Ransom, 1958. Series 14 is held in Box 4.a Series 15: Ludlow Addition #2 to the Stuart Wright Collection contains loose manuscript items transferred from the Stuart Wright Book Collection along with oversized materials, 1964-2000. Series 15 is held in Box 15.a - 5.c, os.6
Note to Researchers: Series 10 & 15 contains Loose Manuscripts Transferred from the Stuart Wright Book Collection. These consists of items found laid in works in the Stuart Wright Book Collection by, about, associated with, or owned by John Crowe Ransom. They include notes and bookmarks inserted by Ransom, Stuart Wright, and others; also notes, cards, correspondence, clippings, advertising, reviews, ephemera, etc. relating to his published works. The loose manuscripts are linked to the books from which they came by their Stuart Wright Book Collection Number (e.g. Stuart Wright Book Collection #40.15).
Purchased from Stuart Wright, 6/21/2010, 10/7/2011, 7/20/2012
Processing, Preliminary inventory & Container List, by Jonathan Dembo, with the assistance of Nathaniel King, John Leche, Krystal Cook, Saundra Pinkham & Shelby Sapp, revised 11/19/2010, 11/1/2016; final inventory by Douglas Tuers, revised 1/24/2011; Finding aid by Jonathan Dembo, 11/3/2011, revised 4/11/2012, 5/17/2013, 11/21/2013. 11/1/2016; Archivists' Toolkit updated by Jonathan Dembo, 7/9/2012, revised, 10/14/2013, 11/21/2013, 11/1/2016
Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.
John Crowe Ransom Papers (Mss 006) Special Collections Department, Jean and Alexander Heard Library, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN USA
Reid and Susan Overcash Literary Collection - A. R. Ammons Papers (#1096-001) Manuscripts and Rare Books Department, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC USA
Stuart Wright Collection – Richard Ghormley Eberhart Papers (#1169-004) Manuscripts and Rare Books Department, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC USA
Stuart Wright Collection – Randall Jarrell Papers (#1169-005) Manuscripts and Rare Books Department, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC USA
Stuart Wright Collection – Katherine Anne Porter Papers (#1169-009) Manuscripts and Rare Books Department, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC USA
Stuart Wright Collection – William Styron Papers (#1169-011) Manuscripts and Rare Books Department, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC USA
Stuart Wright Collection – Allen Tate Papers (#1169-012) Manuscripts and Rare Books Department, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC USA
Stuart Wright Collection – Peter Hillsman Taylor Papers (#1169-013) Manuscripts and Rare Books Department, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC USA
Stuart Wright Collection – Robert Penn Warren Papers (#1169-014) Manuscripts and Rare Books Department, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC USA