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Primary Sources for LGBT Research: Literature

This guide identifies manuscript collections and rare book collections that may be useful for scholars and researchers of LGBT studies and the history of sexuality in the U.S.

Auden, W.H. (MSS 1046)

W.H. Auden, 1907-1973 The collection; 1.25 linear ft. (3 boxes)

Wystan Hugh Auden, a poet, was born in York, England, on February 21, 1907, to George Augustus (a medical officer) and Constnace Rosalie (a nurse) Auden. He attended Christ Church, Oxford, from 1925-1928, then served as a schoolmaster in England and Scotland from 1930 to 1935. In 1935 Auden married Erika Mann, a writer and the daughter of Thomas Mann, so that she could gain British Citizenship and escape Nazi Germany. Although the two never lived together, they remained married until Mann's death in 1969. In 1939, two years after he was awarded the King's Gold Medal for poetry, Auden left England for the United States, becoming a citizen in 1946. During the 1940s he won numerous prizes for his work, including two Guggenheim fellowships, a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, and a National Medal for Literature from the National Book Committee. Between 1940 and 1961 Auden also served as a faculty member at numerous academic institutions, including the University of Michigan, Swathmore College, Bryn Mawr College, Bennington College, Barnard College, Smith College, and Oxford University. Throughout his career he collaborated with other artists including Christopher Isherwood and Louis MacNeice, and frequently produced libretti for musical works by Benjamin Britten, Igor Stravinsky, and Mozart with his companion, Chester Kallman. Auden died in Vienna on September 28, 1973, and was buried near his summer home in Kirchstetten, Austria.

The collection consists of the papers of W.H. Auden, papers by others given to Auden, and publications about Auden's life and work from 1934 to 1988. Amongst these items are scripts for essays read over German radio by Auden in the 1960s, typescripts of two class lectures given by Auden, a large range of newspaper clippings of essays and poems by Auden, as well as reviews and commentary by other critics and readers of his work, and numerous programs for performances of Auden's plays and librettos in both the United States and England.

Also included in the collection is a preliminary agreement between the American Library of World Literature, W.H. Auden, and Anne Fremantle for "Protestant Mysticism," later published as The Protestant Mystics. Additional items include Chester Kallman's high school yearbook, correspondence from Elizabeth Sewell, George Martin, and Thekla Clark, a typescript with holograph corrections of the interview Auden gave to Arion, the corrected typescript of Auden's speech accepting the National Book Award, and fragments of texts by other writers and critics which Auden collected.

Crawford, Matt N. and Evelyn Graves (MSS 882)

Matt N. Crawford and Evelyn Graves Papers and Library, ca. 1932-1967; 9.75 linear ft. (20 boxes, 8 oversized papers)

The Matt N. and Evelyn Graves Crawford papers include organization files, writings, collected printed materials, subject files, personal papers and Langston Hughes materials.  The Langston Hughes materials include fifty-six items of correspondence to both Matt and Evelyn Crawford (1932-1967) and writings, including typescripts of Hughes’s works of poetry, prose, drama and music.  Many of the items are signed; some include dedication notes. There is also a small collection of printed materials relating to Hughes as well as one publicity photograph (1932).  It has been argued that homosexuality was an important influence on Hughes’s literary imagination and that many of his poems may be read as gay texts.  His own sexual identity has been a point of much debate among Hughes scholars and biographers, as he never explicitly addressed the issue.

Duffy, Carol Ann (MSS 834)

Carol Ann Duffy Papers, 1985-1999; 4.75 linear ft. (7 boxes)

One of Britain’s most highly regarded poets, Carol Ann Duffy was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1955 and grew up in Staffordshire in the north of England. After graduating from Liverpool University in Philosophy, Duffy moved to London and published her first collection of poetry, Fifth Last Song, in 1983. In 1993 she won the Whitbread and the Forward prizes for Mean Time, and in 1995 she was awarded the OBE.  Most of her love poems’ subjects are of unspecified gender.  An exception is Oppenheim’s Cup and Saucer in Selected Poems (1994), which describes a lesbian seduction.  In Café Royal in Mean Time (1993), male homosexuality is explored in a commemoration of Oscar Wilde.  Duffy lives in Manchester with her partner, poet Jackie Kay.  The collection consists of 18 notebooks dating from 1985 to 1999 containing drafts of poems and other writings from each of Duffy’s published works.     

Hanson, Kenneth O. (MSS 945)

Kenneth O. Hanson Collection, 1945-1979; .25 linear ft. (1 box)

Kenneth O. Hanson (1922- ), American poet, was born in Shelley, Idaho.  He attended University of Idaho (B.A., 1942) and University of Washington (1946-1954).  He is currently professor of literature and the humanities at Reed College (Portland, Oregon), where he has taught since 1954.  The collection includes correspondence with gay poet James Merrill.

Hughes, Langston (MSS 1089)

Langston Hughes collection, 1932-1967 .5 linear ft. (1 box)

The collection consists of printed material relating to Langston Hughes from 1932-1967. One portion of the collection includes advertising cards, broadsheets, and programs relating to musical or theatrical productions of Hughes' work from 1935-1966. Many of these programs are undated. The other portion of the collection consists of advertising cards, broadsheets, and programs that feature appearances by Hughes, in the form of lectures, readings, or as an honored guest, from 1932-1967.

McCullers, Carson (MSS 668)

Carson McCullers Collection, 1941-1961; .25 linear ft. (1 box)

The collection of this Southern author consists of correspondence, articles, reviews, critical works, a biography, and some of her literary works.  The bulk of the correspondence consists of letters from McCullers (1917-1967) to her friend, composer David Diamond, from her homes in Columbus, Ga., and Nyack, N.Y., and from the Yaddo Writers Colony.  Letters discuss her family, her work (especially Member of the Wedding), and her relationship with her husband, Reeves McCullers.  Known primarily as a Southern gothic author, McCullers has also been known for the ambiguous gender and sexuality categories present in both her work and her personal life.

Merrill, James Ingram (MSS 1001)

James Ingram Merrill Collection, 1923-2000; 1 linear ft. (2 boxes)

James Ingram Merrill (1926-1995), American author and poet, was born in New York City on March 3, 1926 to Charles Merrill and Hellen Ingram Merrill.  Merrill attended Amherst College, graduating in 1947 after serving briefly in the United States Army during World War II.  Following graduation, Merrill taught at Bard College for a year before turning to writing and publishing.  His 1966 collection of poems, Nights and Days, won the National Book Award.  He earned numerous awards for his poetry, including the Bollingen Prize for Braving the Elements (1972), the Pulitzer Prize for Divine Comedies (1976), and a second National Book Award for Mirabell (1978).  Merrill died of AIDS on February 6, 1995.

The collection contains materials related to James Ingram Merrill from 1923-2000.  It includes correspondence, drafts of writings, photographs, tributes, and audiovisual material.  Correspondence, photographs, and other papers collected by Hellen [Ingram Merrill] Plummer, James Merrill's mother, form the majority of the collection.  Her correspondence contains letters and drafts of poetry written by James Merrill.  The correspondence of Charles Crawford, a family friend, also contains correspondence from Merrill.  The remainder of the collection includes correspondence of James Merrill to other individuals, a few scattered drafts of poems, memorial service programs, and video and sound recordings of Merrill reading his poetry and tribute services following his death.

O'Connor, Flannery (MSS 59)

The Flannery O'Connor Collection; 1 linear ft. (2 boxes) and 2 oversized papers (OP)

This artificial collection of Flannery O'Connor letters, manuscripts, and printed items has been assembled from various sources (gifts and purchases) over many years. The earliest two items (circa 1937) relate to a childhood trip to Atlanta. The Dora Byron accession (3 items) relates to a proposed television appearance which O'Connor declined and to a reading she delivered at an adult evening course at Emory University around 1956. Also present are two photocopies of letters to Frank Daniel, letters to and from Marvin Whiting regarding a class visit to O'Connor's home, and two manuscripts of talks O'Connor delivered on the subject "How the Writer Writes" and "the problem of the southern writer." Also present is correspondence exchanged between David Estes (former Head of Special Collections) and O'Connor regarding her own personal papers.

In a series of eight letters to Joel Wells of the Critic magazine O'Connor discusses her own writing, the writing of others (James Gould Cozzens and J.F. Powers), an interview of O'Connor that appeared in the Critic, and other subjects. O'Connor's letters to Fred Darsey discuss a wide range of subjects from Darsey's flight from the hospital in Milledgeville, her own religious faith, Darsey's writing, her work, health, and daily farm life.

The collection also includes a series of letters between Robert Jiras, Flannery O'Connor, Regina O'Connor, and various film agents and producers (1956-1971) regarding a proposed film adaptation by Robert Jiras of O'Connor's short story "The River." This grouping also contains Jiras' story outline, a rough draft of the screenplay and a final copy of the screenplay.

O'Connor, Flannery (MSS 1064)

Flannery O'Connor - Letters to Betty Hester, 1955-1964; 1 linear ft. (2 boxes)

Born in Savannah, Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964) moved to Milledgeville, Georgia, after the death of her father in 1941. She published her first short story, “Geranium,” in the literary magazine Accent in 1946. She went on to publish two novels, Wise BloodThe Violent Bear it Away in 1960 and continued to produce short stories, most notably the collection A Good Man Is Hard to Find (1955). She received numerous awards during her relatively short career, including grants from the Ford Foundation and the National Academy of Arts and Letters. in 1952 and

The collection includes a significant cache of letters from Flannery O'Connor to Betty Hester which spans nine years, from 1955 to 1964, and offers insight into O'Connor's approach to her faith and to her writing.  There are approximately 250 letters and the majority of them are written from Milledgeville at a rate of 2-3 times a month.  Reflecting the intellectual nature of their exchanges, the letters contain references to writers, philosophers, and psychologists, including Thomas Aquinas, Sigmund Freud, Caroline Gordon, Graham Greene, Baron Friedrich von Hugel, Henry James, Robert Lowell, Francois Mauriac, Katherine Anne Porter, Bryon Reece, and Simone Weil.

Smith, Lillian Eugenia (MSS 491)

Lillian Eugenia Smith Papers, 1940-1962; .75 linear ft. (2 boxes)

Lillian Smith (1897-1966) was an author from Clayton, Georgia who wrote the controversial novel Strange Fruit in 1944.  Smith was also a supporter of the civil rights movement and served on the Congress of Racial Equality.  She and her partner Paula Snelling edited and published the literary magazine South Today.  This collection includes miscellaneous correspondence, speeches, articles, books, and newspaper clippings by and about Lillian Smith.

Note: The bulk of Smith’s papers are held at the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Georgia.

Spender, Stephen (MSS 838)

Stephen Spender Papers, ca. 1940-1987; .25 linear ft. (1 box)

Poet Stephen Spender (1909-1995), born in London and educated at University College, Oxford, was mentored by gay poet W. H. Auden.  Spender’s work includes, to some extent, complex themes of sexuality, and his personal relationships have garnered the attention of scholars in gay and lesbian studies. He edited Horizon with Cyril Connolly from 1939-1941 and then co-edited EncounterHorizon and Encounter, as well as some loose manuscripts of criticism and poems, a notebook, and a number of newspaper clippings about Spender (in Italian). from 1953-1966.  The collection contains correspondence of Spender during his editorships at both

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