Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Ezra Pound:

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

Creator: Pound, Ezra, 1885-1972
Title: Ezra Pound Collection
Dates: 1905-1975,
Extent: 16 boxes (6.66 linear feet), 7 galley folders
Abstract: Manuscripts and correspondence reflecting portions of his artistic and political life make up the bulk of the Ezra Pound Collection.
RLIN Record ID: TXRC98-A12
Language English.
Access

Open for research




Acquisition

Purchases and gifts, 1964-1992

Processed by

Sally M. Nichols, 1998

Repository:

Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin


Ezra Pound was born in Hailey, Idaho, on October 30, 1885, the son of Homer Loomis and Isabel Weston Pound. His father ran the land office in Hailey but in the late spring of 1887 moved to New York and in 1889 to Philadelphia where he was an assayer at the United States Mint until his retirement. At the age of seven Pound attended the Chelten Hills School, at twelve the Cheltenham Military Academy, followed by Cheltenham Township High School. Shortly before his sixteenth birthday, in the fall of 1901, Pound entered the University of Pennsylvania where he began a friendship with William Carlos Williams which lasted until Williams's death in 1963. He transferred to Hamilton College in 1903 where he received his Ph.B. in 1905, returning to the University of Pennsylvania to receive a Master's degree in Romance languages in June 1906. Upon receiving a fellowship for the year 1906-1907 Pound did research in the National Library in Madrid and at the British Museum, but after his return was informed that he would not be accepted as a candidate for the doctoral degree program, largely due to his mediocre grades and his arguments with the faculty. This resulted in a life long criticism of universities.

In the fall of 1907 Pound obtained a teaching position at Wabash College, a small Presbyterian school in Crawfordsville, Indiana, to teach Romance languages. In January 1908 he was dismissed because of the scandal caused by his allowing a travelling actress to spend the night in his rooms during a storm. This resulted in Pound's break with respectability and his distrust of social convention, and marked his self-identification as an artist.

In February 1908 Pound left for Europe on a cattle boat. In Venice, struggling financially, he collected forty-four of his poems and had them printed under the title A Lume Spento. He travelled to London, which he felt was the center of literary life, and began sending out his poems to literary magazines. At this time Pound also secured a position at a vocational school teaching medieval literature. He began moving in literary circles and in June 1909 Ford Madox Ford published Pound's poem "Sestina: Altaforte" in the English Review, followed soon after by other poems. A year later he met A.R. Orage, editor of the New Age, who made it possible for Pound to continue writing poetry by regularly publishing his articles, and who introduced him into a circle of artistic and intellectual discussion. In 1912 Pound was instrumental in creating a movement he called "Imagism" which combined the creation of an image with rigorous requirements for writing. He later expanded the concept and called it "Vorticism." In his efforts to promote new directions in the arts, Pound praised and directed other writers such as T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, Robert Frost, H.D., and Ernest Hemingway while they were still relatively unknown. By 1921, when Pound left London for Paris, he had established a name for himself in twentieth-century literature. His most ambitious work, the Cantos, was barely begun but he was to continue writing this epic poem until the end of his life, despite the claims of critics that most of it was obscure and incomprehensible.

Pound had been deeply affected by World War I which turned his interests toward politics and conspiracy theories. Pound continued to be prolific in his writing, publishing hundreds of articles and poems in The New Age, The Little Review, Poetry, The Criterion, The Dial, and Future among others. However, he was turning more toward expounding his economic theories and moving to a belief in central authority and the strong state found in fascist organizations such as that of Mussolini. In 1925 Pound moved to Italy where he and his wife Dorothy Shakespear settled in Rapallo. In January 1927 he began a magazine designed to reflect his interests, The Exile, and contributed to two other magazines, The New English Weekly and Hound and Horn, as well as writing in Italian for the Rapallo newspaper, Il Mare. In 1936 he began to broadcast his political observations and economic theories sporadically on Rome Radio. In 1938 Guide to Kulchur was published, making evident the split in his state of mind when writing about art compared to writing about politics and economics. In 1941 Pound began speaking regularly on Rome Radio for a program called "The American Hour" during which he intended to persuade America not to participate in the war. But his talks soon became full of invective as he verbally attacked America and Great Britain and expounded his views of fascism.

In July of 1943 Pound was indicted for treason by the United States, but continued with his broadcasts through the first months of 1945 when he was taken to a U.S. command post for interrogation. He was transferred to the Disciplinary Training Center near Pisa where he wrote The Pisan Cantos, which won the annual Bollingen Prize in 1949. In November 1945 he was moved to Washington, D.C., where he was indicted on nineteen counts of treason; a jury found him mentally incompetent to stand trial, and Pound was placed in St. Elizabeths Hospital for the insane. There he continued writing his cantos, working on his translations, and writing letters to his friends, until his release in April 1958 when he returned to Rapallo. He continued to write and lived a quiet life until his death on November 1, 1972.


Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series, v. 40, (Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research Inc., 1993).

Dictionary of Literary Biography, v. 45 (Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research Co., 1986).

Tytell, John. Ezra Pound: The Solitary Volcano (New York: Doubleday, 1987).


Manuscripts and correspondence reflecting portions of his artistic and political life make up the bulk of the Ezra Pound Collection, 1905 to 1975. The material is arranged in three series: I. Works, 1905-1967 (bulk 1930s) (4 boxes), II. Correspondence, 1906-1960 (6 boxes), and III. Miscellaneous, 1909-1975 (6 boxes). Within each series the material is arranged alphabetically by title or author. This collection was previously accessible only through a card catalog, but has been re-cataloged as part of a retrospective conversion project.

The Works Series consists of typescripts, galley proofs, page proofs, printed pages, notes, and fragments of poems, articles, essays, broadcasts, and books which trace the course of Pound's artistic and political development. The small amount of poetry by Pound represented in this collection includes "Cantos 112 to 117," undated; drafts of Hilda's Book (1905-1907); Canzoni (1911); Cathay (1915); Lustra of Ezra Pound (1916); Quia Pauper Amavi (1918); The Fifth Decad of Cantos, Cantos 42 to 52 (1937), and a few single poems. Numerous articles and essays on the role of the artist, the need for new approaches to poetry, and on economic and political affairs are included in his published pamphlets: Social Credit: An Impact (1935); An Introduction to the Economic Nature of the U.S.A. (1950); America, Roosevelt, and the Causes of the Present War (1951); and Gold and Labour (1952). In this series also is a copy of his book, Guide to Kulchur (1938) containing handwritten corrections; typescript and galley proofs of A Visiting Card (1952); typescript of Impact: Essays on Ignorance and the Decline of American Civilization (1960); and three of his translations. The collection also contains copies of transcriptions of Pound's shortwave broadcasts from Rome, 1941-1943.

The outgoing section of the Correspondence Series consists chiefly of letters from Pound to various authors, artists, editors, friends, and publishers of books and literary magazines in which he discusses ideas and projects of a literary nature, both concerning his own work and that of others, and in which he gives vent to his growing political and economic views. The letters are written during the years he lived in London, Paris, Rapallo, and Washington, D.C., where he was confined at St. Elizabeths Hospital from 1945 to 1958. Chief among the recipients of his letters are Richard Aldington, Josef Bard, Montgomery Butchart, Nancy Cunard, Ingrid Davies, Ronald Duncan, Denis Goacher, Stanley Nott, Brigit Patmore, Virginia Risse, Peter Russell, Dallam Simpson, Noel Stock, and Max Wykes-Joyce. The smaller group of incoming correspondence contains letters from Josef Bard, Wyndham Lewis, H. L. Mencken, Pound's mother, and his daughter, Mary de Rachewiltz. Additional correspondents can be identified using the Index of Correspondents located at the end of this finding aid.

The Miscellaneous Series contains extensive third-party correspondence and manuscripts concerning Pound's internment at St. Elizabeths Hospital. There are articles by Günter Blöcker, Buddhadeva Bose, Thomas Cole, William Carlos Williams, Briget Patmore, and Brian Soper, and a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation interview with Pound by Canadian poet Louis Dudek. In addition, there are letters by attorney Julien Cornell describing Pound's case after his arrest on charges of treason, as well as correspondence from John Drummond and Ronald Duncan in their efforts to obtain Pound's release.

Also in this series are several manuscripts concerning a variety of subjects relating to Pound written by John Fitzgerald, Denis Goacher, R. McNair-Wilson, Saturno Montanari, Hugh MacDiarmid, Mary de Rachewiltz, Noel Stock, Henry S. Swabey, and S. V. Yankowski, as well as a transcript of a radio program aired on the Yale Broadcasting Company in honor of Pound's 70th birthday, entitled "A Tribute to Ezra Pound." Throughout the series are poems by individual authors such as R. L. Cook, Norman Davis, Ronald Duncan, Martin Dworkin, Geoffrey Johnson, Lori Petri, and Omar Pound. An Index of Works by Other Authors follows the Index of Correspondents.

Letters in this series include correspondence by T.S. Eliot, D.D. Paige, Dorothy Pound, Mary de Rachewiltz, Olga Rudge, Peter Russell, and William Carlos Williams. Notes, correspondence and other material on Ezra Pound from Noel Stock include his letters re the Pound Festschrift. Also present in this series is a synopsis of a course of lectures by Pound on the development of literature in South Europe, 1909; and two folders of miscellaneous items withdrawn from books in Pound's library, filed in call number order.

Elsewhere in the Center are 60 Vertical File folders containing various published materials: advertisements for Pound's books, reprints of his letters, reviews of his works and of works about Pound by others, and newspaper and periodical clippings about Pound's life, particularly relating to his stay in, and after his release from, St. Elizabeths Hospital. Of special note are copies from the Congressional Record concerning Pound's case on the charge of treason, and photocopies of an affidavit in support of application for bail and of "The Case For and Against Ezra Pound."

The Literary File of the Ransom Center's Photography Collection contains 86 photographs of Pound taken by various photographers from the 1890s to 1965 in Washington, D.C., Wyncote, Pa., London, Italy, and Paris. Images include photographs of Pound with William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, Dorothy Pound, Ford Madox Ford, John Quinn, and Oloff de Wet. Some images are signed by Pound. The Art Collection contains portraits of Pound, in various media, by Wyndham Lewis, George Barker, Stephen Longstreet, Oloff de Wet, Zdzislaw Czermanski, Robert Sherriffs, Horace Brodsky, Lloyd Coe, Sheri Martinelli, and George Granville Barker. A portion of Pound's personal library is held at the Ransom Center, with many of the 700 volumes containing Pound's sometimes extensive annotations.


Correspondents

Aldington, Richard, 1892-1962

Bard, Josef, b. 1892

Berlin, Isaiah, Sir

Bunting, Basil

Butchart, Montgomery

Cocteau, Jean, 1889-1963

Cory, Daniel

Covici, Pasceal, 1885-1964

Cummings, E.E. (Edward Estlin), 1894-1962

Cunard, Nancy, 1896-1965

Davenport, Guy

Davies, Ingrid

Drummond, John, 1900-

Duncan, Ronald Frederick Henry, 1914-

Eliot, T.S. (Thomas Sterns), 1888-1965

Goacher, Denis

Greene, Graham, 1904-

Harper, Allanah, 1904-

Henry Regnery Company

Laughlin, Hames, 1914-

Leavis, F.R. (Frank Raymond), 1895-

Lewis, Wyndham, 1882-1957

MacLeish, Archibald, 1892-

McLuhan, Marshall, 1911-

Mencken, H.L. (Henry Louis), 1880-1956

Moore, Arthur V.

Munson, Gorham Bert, 1896-1969

New Directions

Nott, Stanley Charles, 1902-

Paige, D.D.

Patmore, Brigit

Pound, Dorothy

Rachewiltz, Mary de

Risse, Virginia Cazort

Rudge, Olga, 1895-

Russell, Peter, 1921-

Simpson, Dallam

Stock, Noel

Swabey, Henry S.

Williams, Jonathan, 1929-

Williams, William Carlos, 1883-1963

Wykes-Joyce, Max

Zukofsky, Louis, 1904-1978

Subjects

Authors, American

History in literature

Poets, American--20th century

Document Types

Christmas cards

Galley proofs

Interviews

Legal instruments

Postcards

Radio scripts

Sketches