Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Ogden Nash:

An Inventory of His Collection at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Creator Nash, Ogden, 1902-1971
Title Ogden Nash Collection
Dates: 1882-1969
Extent 12 boxes (4 linear feet), 1 galley folder, 1 oversize folder
Abstract: This collecton contains manuscripts of poems, short stories, collections of verse and other writings, correspondence, and miscellany trace the writing career and personal life of Ogden Nash.
RLIN Record # TXRC98-A1
Language English.
Access

Open for research




Acquisition

Purchases and gifts, 1970-1991 (R5207, R5892, R6625, G2815, R12087, G8976)

Processed by

Chelsea S. Jones, 1998

Repository:

Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin


Ogden Nash (1902-1971) was raised in Savannah, Georgia, and other East Coast cities. His father's import-export business made it necessary for the family to move frequently. After completing his secondary education at St. George's School in Newport, Rhode Island, Nash attended Harvard for one year (1920-21). Dropping out of college for financial reasons, Nash took various positions teaching, selling bonds, and writing streetcar advertisements. In 1925, Nash took a position with Doubleday Page Publishers as an editor and a publicist, and published his first children's story, written with Joseph Alger, The Cricket of Carador (1925).

Still working at Doubleday, Nash collaborated with Christopher Morley to publish the comical Born in a Beer Garden or, She Troupes to Conquer: Sunday Ejaculations by Christopher Morley, Cleon Throckmorton, Ogden Nash and Certain of the Hoboken Ads, with a Commentary by Earnest Elmo Calkins (1930). Also in 1930, Nash published his first humorous poem "Spring Comes to Murray Hill" in The New Yorker.

After the Murray Hill poem, Nash's work began to appear in other periodicals and he was able to publish a collection of verse in 1931 with immense success. Hard Lines (1931) sold out seven printings in its first year and secured Nash in his role as a master of light and whimsical verse.

In 1932 he left Doubleday to work on staff at The New Yorker, but he soon quit the job to devote himself full-time to his writing. He went on to publish more than two dozen volumes of verse, as well as screenplays (none successfully produced), lyrics and scripts for theater, children's stories and various essays. Some of his better known titles include The Bad Parent's Garden of Verse (1936), I'm a Stranger Here Myself (1938), The Face Is Familiar: the Selected Verses of Ogden Nash (1940), Parents Keep Out: Elderly Poems for Young Readers (1951), Custard the Dragon (1959), and Marriage Lines: Notes of a Student Husband (1963). His Broadway play, One Touch of Venus (1943), written with Kurt Weill and S.J. Perelman was a smashing success.

When he wasn't writing poems, Nash took time to appear on various radio game and comedy shows in the 1940s and to write scores for TV shows in the 1950s. He also engaged in extensive lecture tours around the United States and England.

In his personal life, he married Frances Rider Leonard in June of 1931 and had two daughters, Linell Chenault (Mrs. J. Marshall Smith), and Isabel Jackson (Mrs. Frederick Eberstadt). His marriage and his children proved to be a strong influence on his work. He received honorary degrees from New England College (1967), Adelphi (1961), and Franklin and Marshall (1962) and was elected to membership in many societies, including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1965), American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (1943), and the National Institute of Arts and Letters (1950).

Ogden Nash continued to write, publish, tour, and lecture until very close to the end of his life on May 19, 1971.


Dictionary of Literary Biography -- Volume 11: American Humourists, 1800-1950, part 2, M-Z. Stanley Trachtenberg, Ed. (Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1982).

For further information on Ogden Nash see:

Loving Letters from Ogden Nash, A Family Album, Isabel Nash Eberstadt and Linell Nash Smith, (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, Inc., 1990).

Ogden Nash: A Descriptive Bibliography, Crandell, George W., (New Jersey: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1990).

The Ogden Nash Collection at the University of Texas: A Catalogue of the Correspondence, Crandell, George W., Report (MA), The University of Texas at Austin, 1981.


Manuscripts of poems, short stories, collections of verse, and other writings, correspondence, and miscellany trace the writing career and personal life of Ogden Nash, 1882-1969 (bulk 1928-1969). The collection is organized into four series which are generally arranged alphabetically by author or title: I. Works, 1927-1969 (3.5 boxes), II. Letters, 1928-1969 (5.5 boxes), III. Recipient, 1928-1969 (1.5 boxes) and IV. Miscellaneous, 1882-1969 (1.5 boxes). This collection was previously accessible through a card catalog, but has been re-cataloged as part of a retrospective conversion project.

The Works series contains drafts of over 350 of Nash's poems and published collections, many of them holographs, as well as typed and copied versions with edits, printer's marks, and notes, arranged alphabetically by title. Unidentified and untitled poems are arranged alphabetically by first line. In addition, an untitled and unpublished novel, lyrics, scripts, and a few essays and speeches are scattered through the series. Specific manuscripts can be found using the Index of Works at the end of this finding aid.

The Letters series consists almost entirely of 577 letters, telegrams, and flower cards from Nash to his wife, Frances Leonard Nash. Additionally, there are letters to publishers, friends, and in-laws. The Recipient series is composed of letters and telegrams from friends, fans, editors, and publishers. These include Larry Adler, Spiro Agnew, Nicolas Bentley, Gelett Burgess, Curtis Brown, Ltd., Walt Disney, Corey Ford, Eugene McCarthy, Groucho Marx, Marianne Moore, Christopher Morley, staff at The New Yorker, Charles G. Norris, J.B. Priestley, John Pudney, John Updike, E. B. White, and P.G. Wodehouse. Additional correspondents can be identified using the Index of Correspondents in this finding aid.

The Miscellaneous series contains a wide variety of material ranging from honorary degrees awarded to Nash, a journal of publishing information for all of Nash's published poems, certificates of membership in various societies, wedding license and program, biographical essays about several of Nash's antecedents (Edmund Strudwick Nash, Gen. Francis Nash, Abner Nash, and Frederick Nash) as well as obituary notices for other family members. A series of letters from Edmund Strudwick Nash, Ogden's father, span 1882-1924. Also included in this series are galley proofs for E.B. White's collection of verses "The Fox of Peapack and other Poems," letters from Frances L. Nash to her mother, and minutes from the Nassau and Suffolk County Deviled Ham and Lake Ronkonkoma Club meetings.

Elsewhere in the Ransom Center is a large collection of newspaper clippings covering the publication and criticism of Nash's work (23 Vertical File folders and four Scrapbooks). Also, located in the Art Collection, are 84 images. About two-thirds of these are sketches by Ogden Nash, along with his captions for them. The remaining images are interpretations of the drawings by an artist. In the Literary Files of the Photography Collection there are about 90 photographs and negatives, spanning Nash's life. There are a few childhood pictures of Nash, several photos from Nash's time at St. George's School, and a number of family snapshots of Nash's wife and children. Also included are photos of Nash speaking, writing, and posing.


Correspondents

Alder, Larry

Agnew, Spiro T. 1918-

Bentley, Nicolas, 1907-

Burgess, Gelett, 1866-1951

Disney, Walt, 1901-1966

Duke, Vernon, 1903-1969

Ford, Corey Hitchcock,1902-1969

Longwell, Daniel, 1899-1969

McCarthy, Eugene J., 1916-

Marx, Groucho, 1891-1977

Moore, Marianne, 1887-1972

Morley, Christopher, 1890-1957

Nash, Frances Leonard, 1906-

Norris, Charles Gilman, 1881-1945

Perelman, S.J. (Sidney Joseph), 1904-

Priestley, J.B. (John Boynton), 1894-

Pudney, John, 1909-1977

Updike, John

White, E.B. (Elwin Brooks), 1899-

Wodehouse, P.G. (Pelham Grenville), 1881-1975

Organizations

Curtis Brown Ltd.

Little, Brown, and Company

The New Yorker

Subjects

American poetry

Children's poetry

Humorous poetry

Nash Family

Poets, American--20th century

Document Types

Cartoons

Christmas cards

Galley proofs

Journal

Love letters

Photographs

Postcards

Scripts