Stuart Wright Collection: Eve Shelnutt Papers

Manuscript Collection #1169-081
Shelnutt, Eve, 1943-
Physical description
0.25 Cubic Feet, 1 archival box, 2 items, 79 p.
Preferred Citation
Stuart Wright Collection: Eve Shelnutt Papers (#1169-081), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Papers of Eve Shelnutt (1984) documenting the life and literary career of the Spartanburg, South Carolina-born American poet, short story writer who taught creative writing at various universities, including the College of the Holy Cross; consisting of unbound carbon typescripts of her volume of poetry Air and Salt (1984) and of her short story Undersong (1984).

Biographical/historical information

Eve Shelnutt was born Eve [Evelyn Brown] Waldrop, in Spartanburg, South Carolina, on 29 August 1941. She spent most of her childhood moving from town to town, following her father's television and radio career. After her parents divorced in in 1957, she moved with her mother and sisters, to live near relatives in Greenville, SC.

In 1961, Eve married James William Shelnutt, a graduate student at the General Motors Institute in Flint, MI. Shelnutt was soon drafted into the Army and stationed in Florida, where Eve gave birth to their son, Gregory William Shelnutt. When Shelnutt was transferred to Dayton, OH, she began taking creative writing classes with poet Dick Allen at nearby Wright State University. One of her stories won the Mademoiselle Fiction Award. In 1968, after her first divorce, Shelnutt began to take day classes at Wright State and began writing news stories for the Dayton papers. Shelnutt completed her B.A. in English in 1972 at the University of Cincinnati.

After graduating from Cincinnati, Shelnutt received a Randall Jarrell Fellowship, to attend University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She earned her M.F.A. from Greensboro in 1973. It was in this program that she met her lifelong friend Fred Chappell, who regularly advised her about her manuscripts. She also began to write short stories. Over the years, these have appeared in approximately 10 anthologies and 60 journals. Her first, full-length, collection was The Love Child (1979). It was clearly autobiographical. In these early stories, Shelnutt's characters include absent fathers, lonely and overwrought mothers, and their daughters.

After earning her M.F.A., Shelnutt moved to Cincinnati where she briefly worked as a journalist. In 1974 she received the job of assistant professor teaching journalism and fiction writing at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, where she stayed for six years. In 1980, Shelnutt left Western Michigan to teach the M.F.A. program at the University of Pittsburgh. It was in Pittsburgh that she met and married her second husband, Mark L. Shelton in 1981. In 1983, she published Air and Salt, a collection of her poetry that included the short story entitled Undersong.

In 1988, Shelnutt left the University of Pittsburgh to teach at Ohio University. She later taught at The College of the Holy Cross at Worcester, Massachusetts before retiring and moving to Athens, Georgia. On 7 April 2015, Eve Shelnutt died at the age of 74 in Athens, Georgia.


"Evelyn B. Shelnutt Obituary". [Obituary] 8 April 2015. Accessed 30 November 2016.

"Eve Shelnutt", by Daniel Lowe (2007). [Biographical Sketch] Gale Accessed 30 November 2016.

"Eve Shelnutt Papers, 1943-2015 (unprocessed)". 12 cubic feet. Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives, Walter Clinton Jackson Library, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, Greensboro, NC.

Author: Jonathan Dembo, with the assistance of John Leche, 11/30/2016, 3/17/2017.

Stuart Wright collected and compiled the Eve Shelnutt 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

Scope and arrangement

Stuart Wright Collection: Eve Shelnutt Papers (#1169-081) are arranged in original order in a single series.

Series 1: Cary Addition #1 to the Stuart Wright Collection consists of unbound carbon typescripts of her volume of poetry, entitled Air and Salt, and of her short story entitled Undersong. Source: Cary Addition Box #114.000. Series 1 is held in Box. 1.a-1.b.

Administrative information
Custodial History

27 October 2011, (Cary Addition #1), 0.25 cubic feet; 1 archival box; 2 items; 79 p. Papers (1984) documenting the life and literary career of Eve Shelnutt (1941-2015), an American poet, short story writer and educator at various universities, including the College of the Holy Cross; consisting of unbound carbon typescripts of her volume of poetry, Air and Salt, and of her short story Undersong. Source: Cary Addition Box #114.000. Vendor: Stuart Wright

Source of acquisition

Purchased from Stuart Wright, 10/27/2011

Processing information

Processing, Preliminary inventory & Container List, by Jonathan Dembo, with the assistance of Nathaniel King, 2/18/2016, 5/13/2016; Final inventory by Jonathan Dembo, 8/30/2016; Finding aid by Jonathan Dembo, 9/27/2016; Biographical Sketch, by Jonathan Dembo with the assistance of John Leche, 11/30/2016, rev. 2/20/2017; Encoding revised by Jonathan Dembo, 2/20/2017, 3/17/2017.

Copyright notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Language of material


Related material

Eve Shelnutt Papers, 1943-2015 (unprocessed) 12 cubic feet, Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives, Walter Clinton Jackson Library, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, Greensboro, NC USA

Container list
Box 1 Folder a Air and Salt [Poems] by Eve Shelnutt (ca. 1984) Carbon typescript. Unbound. 1 item 69 p. ; Note : Source : Cary Addition Box #114.000
Box 1 Folder b Undersong [Short Story] by Eve Shelnutt (ca. 1984) Carbon typescript. Unbound. 1 item 10 p. ; Note : Source : Cary Addition Box #114.000