Stuart Wright Collection: William Jay Smith Papers, 1970-1983

Manuscript Collection #1169-077

  • Descriptive Summary
     
    Title: Stuart Wright Collection: William Jay Smith Papers
    Creator: Smith, William Jay, 1918-2015
    Repository: ECU Manuscript Collection
    Language: English
    Abstract: Papers of William Jay Smith (1970-1983) documenting the life and literary career the noted Winfield, Louisiana-born American poet, and educator at Hollins College, Virginia who also served as the nineteenth poet laureate consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress (1968-1970); consisting of oversized printed materials, including broadsides and brochures, entitled Oxford Doggerel (1983) and Army Brat: A Dramatic Narrative for Three Voices by William Jay Smith (1982); also including loose manuscript items transferred from William Jay Smith’s works in the Stuart Wright Book Collection, including publicity photographs found in Army Brat (1982) and New and Selected Poems (1944).
    Extent: 0.45 Cubic feet, 0.45 Cubic feet, 1 archival box, 2 oversized archival folders,
  • Description
     

    Stuart Wright Collection: William Jay Smith Papers (#1169-077) are arranged in original order in 2 series.

    Series 1: Cary Addition #1 to the Stuart Wright Collection, consists of papers (1970-1980) documenting the life and literary career of William Jay Smith (1918-2015), the noted American poet, and educator at Hollins College, Virginia; consisting of oversized printed materials including broadsides and brochures, entitled Oxford Doggerel (1983) and Army Brat: A Dramatic Narrative for Three Voices by William Jay Smith (1982). Smith served as the nineteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress 1968-1970. Source: Cary Addition Boxes #176.043, 176.050. Series 1 is held in Box 1.a-1.b.

    20 July 2012, (Ludlow Addition #2), 0.25 cubic feet; 0.50 archival box; 4 items; 4 p. Papers (1982-1983) documenting the life and literary career of William Jay Smith (1918-2015), the noted American poet, and educator at Hollins College, Virginia consisting of loose manuscript items transferred from William Jay Smith's works in the Stuart Wright Book Collection, including publicity photographs found in Army Brat (1982) and New and Selected Poems (1944). Smith served as the nineteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress 1968-1970. Source: Cary Addition Boxes #099.000, 105.000. Series 2 is held in Oversized folder os1-os2.

  • Biographical / Historical Note
     

    William Jay Smith was born on 22 April 1918 in Winnfield, Louisiana. He grew up in Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, a small military base, where his father, who was a clarinetist in the Army band, was based. Smith had his first poem, Observatory, published nationally when he was only fourteen years old. He went on to earn his B.A. and M.A. in French literature from Washington University in St. Louis, where he befriended the famous playwright Tennessee Williams. During World War II, Smith served in the Navy. After the war he studied at Columbia University, University of Florence in Italy, and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University.

    Over his professional life Smith has claimed many different professions including writer, translator, teacher, and politician. Smith was poet in residence at Williams College (1959-1964, 1966-1977), and taught at Columbia University (1973-1975), and Hollins University. From 1968 to 1970 he served as a poetry consultant to the Library of Congress, now known as the U.S. Poet Laureate during 1968-1970.

    For his work in poetry, Smith has received many awards including, a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, a lifetime achievement award from the Louisiana Center for the Book. He has also received honors from the French Academy, the Swedish Academy, and the government of Hungary due to his numerous translations of respective pieces of literary work.

    Smith published his first collection of poetry, Poems, in 1947. It received critical success and applause from Modernist poets. Over his career Smith authored over fifty books of poetry, children’s verse, literary criticisms, and translations. In several of his books, Smith drew upon his Native American heritage, as a source of inspiration.

    In 1947, Smith married the poet Barbara Howes. The marriage ended in divorce in divorce. The couple had two sons. He was later remarried to the former Sonja Haussmann. Smith died in Lenox, Massachusetts on 18 August 2015 at the age of 97.

    Sources:

    "William Jay Smith". [Biographical Sketch] Wikipedia. Accessed 21 November 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Jay_Smith.

    "William Jay Smith". [Biographical Sketch] Poets.org. Accessed 18 November 2016. https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/william-jay-smith.

    "William Jay Smith Biography (1918-) - Autobiography Feature - Time, Poems, and Poetry" [Autobiographical Sketch] JRank Articles. Accessed 18 November 2016. http://biography.jrank.org/pages/966/Smith-William-Jay-1918-Autobiography-Feature.html.

    "William Jay Smith Papers, 1924-2004 (MSS104)" 436.0 Boxes. Washington University Libraries, Washington University, St. Louis, MO. http://webfiles.wulib.wustl.edu/units/spec/manuscripts/findingaids/MSS104.pdf

    "William Jay Smith Papers (CLRC-1849)" 1 cubic ft. Archives and Special Collections, Elmer L. Andersen Library, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. http://archives.lib.umn.edu/repositories/4/resources/3262

    Author: Jonathan Dembo, with the assistance of John Leche, 11/21/2016, 2/16/2017, 3/16/2017.

    Stuart Wright collected and compiled the William Jay Smith 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

  • Administrative Information
     
    Accessions Information

    27 October 2011, (Cary Addition #1), 0.20 cubic feet; 2 oversized folders; 3 items; 3 p. Papers (1970-1980) documenting the life and literary career of William Jay Smith (1918-2015), the noted American poet, and educator at Hollins College, Virginia; consisting of oversized printed materials including broadsides and brochures, entitled Oxford Doggerel (1983) and Army Brat: A Dramatic Narrative for Three Voices by William Jay Smith (1982). Smith served as the nineteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress 1968-1970. Source: Cary Addition Boxes #176.043, 176.050. Vendor: Stuart Wright

    20 July 2012, (Ludlow Addition #2), 0.25 cubic feet; 0.50 archival box; 4 items; 4 p. Papers (1982-1983) documenting the life and literary career of William Jay Smith (1918-2015), the noted American poet, and educator at Hollins College, Virginia consisting of loose manuscript items transferred from William Jay Smith's works in the Stuart Wright Book Collection, including publicity photographs found in Army Brat (1982) and New and Selected Poems (1944). Smith served as the nineteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress 1968-1970. Source: Cary Addition Boxes #099.000, 105.000. Vendor: Stuart Wright

    Acquisition Information

    Purchased from Stuart Wright, 10/27/2011, 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: William Jay Smith Papers (#1169-077), 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, 2/18/2016; Final inventory by Jonathan Dembo, 8/29/2016; Finding aid by Jonathan Dembo, 9/27/2016, 11/18/2016; Biographical Sketch, by Jonathan Dembo with the assistance of John Leche, 11/21/2016, rev. 2/16/2017; Encoding revised by Jonathan Dembo, 2/16/2017, 3/16/2017.

Container List

  • Cary Addition to the Stuart Wright Collection
     

    • Oversized Materials : Broadsides & Brochures
       

      Oxford Doggerel [Poem] by William Jay Smith, The American Oxonian, Vol. 70, no. 4 (Fall 1983) Broadside. 2 items. 2 p. ; Note : Holograph note : "Greetings from + Bill" ; Source : Cary Addition Box #099B.000
      Army Brat : A Dramatic Narrative for Three Voices, first presented at the Joseph Papp New York Shakespeare Festival on November 17, 1980 . . . [Excerpt & Biographical sketch] by William Jay Smith, Poetry & Literature : Poetry Readings, Lectures, and Dramatic Performances (Washington, DC : Library of Congress, 7 Dec. 1982) Brochure. 1 item. 1 p. ; Note : Advertisement for Smith's reading ; autographed "William Jay Smith" on face ; Source : Cary Addition Box #105B.000
  • Ludlow Addition to the Stuart Wright Collection
     

    • Loose Manuscript Items Transferred from the Stuart Wright Book Collection
       

      • Box 1
         
        Army Brat, by William Jay Smith (© 1980) Note : 1) Robert Bly publicity portrait ; autographed on verso : "Robert Bly" ; inscribed on verso : "credit : Layle Silbert" (ca. 1980) Photographic print. Black & White. 5" x 7" 1 item. 1 p. ; 2) Roald Dahl publicity portrait ; autographed on verso : "Roald Dahl" ; inscribed on verso : "Dmitri Kasterine" (ca. 1980) Photographic print. Black & White. 5.25" x 7.25" 1 item. 1 p. ; 3) William Jay Smith publicity portrait ; autographed on verso "William Jay Smith" (ca. 1980) Photographic print. Black & White. 5" x 7" 1 item. 1 p. ; Source : Ludlow Addition Box #176.043
        New and Selected Poems, by William Jay Smith (© 1944) Note : 1) Seymour Larence / Delacorte Press. William Jay Smith publicity portrait with caption ; Photo credit : George Saitô (ca. 1970) Photographic print. Black & White. 5" x 7" 1 item. 1 p. ; Source : Ludlow Addition Box #176.050

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Container List

  • Cary Addition to the Stuart Wright Collection
     

    • Oversized Materials : Broadsides & Brochures
       

      Oxford Doggerel [Poem] by William Jay Smith, The American Oxonian, Vol. 70, no. 4 (Fall 1983) Broadside. 2 items. 2 p. ; Note : Holograph note : "Greetings from + Bill" ; Source : Cary Addition Box #099B.000
      Army Brat : A Dramatic Narrative for Three Voices, first presented at the Joseph Papp New York Shakespeare Festival on November 17, 1980 . . . [Excerpt & Biographical sketch] by William Jay Smith, Poetry & Literature : Poetry Readings, Lectures, and Dramatic Performances (Washington, DC : Library of Congress, 7 Dec. 1982) Brochure. 1 item. 1 p. ; Note : Advertisement for Smith's reading ; autographed "William Jay Smith" on face ; Source : Cary Addition Box #105B.000
  • Ludlow Addition to the Stuart Wright Collection
     

    • Loose Manuscript Items Transferred from the Stuart Wright Book Collection
       

      • Box 1
         
        Army Brat, by William Jay Smith (© 1980) Note : 1) Robert Bly publicity portrait ; autographed on verso : "Robert Bly" ; inscribed on verso : "credit : Layle Silbert" (ca. 1980) Photographic print. Black & White. 5" x 7" 1 item. 1 p. ; 2) Roald Dahl publicity portrait ; autographed on verso : "Roald Dahl" ; inscribed on verso : "Dmitri Kasterine" (ca. 1980) Photographic print. Black & White. 5.25" x 7.25" 1 item. 1 p. ; 3) William Jay Smith publicity portrait ; autographed on verso "William Jay Smith" (ca. 1980) Photographic print. Black & White. 5" x 7" 1 item. 1 p. ; Source : Ludlow Addition Box #176.043
        New and Selected Poems, by William Jay Smith (© 1944) Note : 1) Seymour Larence / Delacorte Press. William Jay Smith publicity portrait with caption ; Photo credit : George Saitô (ca. 1970) Photographic print. Black & White. 5" x 7" 1 item. 1 p. ; Source : Ludlow Addition Box #176.050


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