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University of Texas at Austin

Daisy Aldan:

An Inventory of Her Papers at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Creator Aldan, Daisy, 1923-
Title Daisy Aldan Papers
Dates: 1946-1966
Extent 3 boxes (1 linear foot)
Abstract Daisy Aldan, perhaps best known for her poetry and editorial work, is also an accomplished translator and teacher. Her papers emphasize her editorial work, in particular her efforts for Folder Magazine (1953-59). Her own work is also represented by materials from The Destruction of Cathedrals and Seven: Seven as well as her translation of A Throw of the Dice Never Will Abolish Chance by Stephanie Mallarme.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-00056
Language: English.
Access Open for research

Administrative Information

Acquisition Purchase, 1969 (R4965)
Processed by Betty Oliver, 1987; Revised by David H. Sparks 1994

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Daisy Aldan was born in 1923 in New York City to Louis Aldan, a designer, and Esther Edelheit Aldan, an actress. She received a B.A. degree from Hunter College in 1943, and an M.A. from Brooklyn College in 1948, and did further graduate study at New York University. While primarily known as a poet, editor, and translator, she has given readings and lectured extensively throughout the United States, Switzerland, India, France, and Germany. She has also taught English, creative writing, literature, speech, and film studies at the New York School of Art and Design, Emerson College (Sussex, England), the Rudolf Steiner Institute (NY), and at the Goetheanum (Switzerland). Aldan, while part of the New York City poetry scene of the 1950s and 1960s, is not well known outside urban literary circles. She was aware of and friends with the Beats, but her style was more influenced by modern French poetry and metaphysics. Aldan has said that her primary motivation is "to bring a renewal of the WORD into the world." Aldan was recognized by Epoch, Cornell University's literary magazine, as one of America's fifty best poets.
Aldan's earliest chapbook of poems was published in 1946. This was followed by The Destruction of Cathedrals and Other Poems in 1963, with a preface by Anaïs Nin, and Seven: Seven (Poems and Photographs) in 1965. During the 1970s, Aldan published seven books of experimental and lyrical poetry. Her non-fiction and prose works are focused on the topic of poetry and consciousness. In 1979 she was able to publish, due to an NEA grant, the novella, A Golden Story.
She edited several important poetry magazines, including Folder Magazine of Literature and Art(1953-1959) and Two Cities (co-edited with Anaïs Nin), from 1961 to 1962. She also published in 1959 a book length anthology of poetry and drawings, A New Folder: Americans - Poems and Drawings,that she considered a continuation of Folder Magazine. She has also edited and published translations of works by Stephane Mallarmé, Anaïs Nin, Albert Steffen, and Rudolf Steiner. She contributed to anthologies including Fifty-Three American Poets of Today (1973), Twentieth-Century American Women Poets (1974), and The Little Magazine in America Today (1978), as well as to magazines including Botteghe Oscure, Imago, Massachusetts Review, New York Times, Poet and Critic, and Poetry.
Aldan was awarded the NEA poetry prize in 1968, a Doctor of Letters by the University of Karachi in 1970, and received a Pulitzer Prize nomination in 1978 for her book of poems, Between High Tides (1978). She has served in an advisory or directorial capacity for such publications and organizations as Folder Editions, World Literature Today, New York Quarterly, and the Poetry Society of America. She is a member of PEN, World Congress of Poets, National Critics Circle, and the Academy of American Poets.


For further information on the life and work of Daisy Aldan, see
Harms, Valerie. Celebration with Anaïs Nin. Riverside, Conn.: Magic Circle Press, 1973.

Scope and Contents

The Daisy Aldan Papers, 1946-1966, include correspondence, drafts, manuscripts, notes, layout dummies, paste-ups, galleys and page proofs, and various materials collected for publication. The collection is arranged in three series: Publications Edited, 1953-1959 (1.5 boxes); Works, 1956-1965 (1 box); and Correspondence, 1946-1966 (.5 box).
Aldan's editorial files dominate the collection. From 1953 to 1961, Aldan was involved in the publication and promotion of a group of New York poets, musicians, and artists, most of whom were friends and colleagues. Publications resulting from these activities include Folder Magazine of Literature and Art and A New Folder: Americans--Poems and Drawings. In these publications and in public performances by Aldan and other Folder artists, Aldan emphasized the connection between poetic and visual images by combining drawings or photographs with poetry. The Folder artists included John Ashbery, Lucia Dlugoszewski, Edward Field, Allen Ginsberg, Barbara Guest, Kenneth Koch, Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Denise Levertov, James Merrill, Frank O'Hara, Jackson Pollock, Larry Rivers, Ned Rorem, and Eve Triem.
Manuscripts by Aldan and others are also present in the collection. Among these are the manuscripts for two of Aldan's published books of poetry, The Destruction of Cathedrals and Seven:Seven. The material for The Destruction of Cathedrals also includes numerous revisions ("working notes") of poems accompanied by the final typed version. Also found here are the manuscripts, notes, and publication materials for Aldan's translation of Stephane Mallarmé's A Throw of the Dice. Manuscripts by others consist mostly of submissions of the Folder poets to Aldan's publications, although other writers such as James Broughton, Gregory Corso, Edward Field, Paul Goodman, Lyons Phelps, Larry Rivers, James Schuyler, Elliot Stein, Eugene Walter, and Philip Whalen are also represented.
Aldan's correspondence in these papers, 1946-1966, mainly reflects editorial duties and requests to a wide variety of people in the musical, literary, and art worlds. Correspondence from such writers as Gregory Corso, Kenneth Koch, John O'Hara, Ned Rorem, James Schuyler, Eve Triem, and Eugene Walter is of a more personal nature and often discusses details of their work in a more informal context. Other significant correspondents include Donald Allen, John Ashbery, Dore Ashton, Imamu Amiri Baraka, William Rose Benét, Paul Blackburn, Julian Beck, Marguerite Caetani, Robert Creeley, Richard Eberhart, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Edward Field, Charles Henri Ford, Allen Ginsberg, Erick Hawkins, Geroge Hitchcock, Denise Levertov, Michael McClure, James Merrill, Henry Miller, Harold Norse, Charles Olson, Elliott Stein, May Swenson, Alice B. Toklas, Tristan Tzara, and William Weaver.
Beyond the study of Aldan and her work, this collection also provides insight into a part of the New York avant-garde poetry scene not necessarily dominated stylistically or philosophically by the Beats. Rather it could provide information on the influence of modern French poetry (Dadaist, Surrealist, and Symbolist) and other contemporary experimental techniques (theater of the absurd and multimedia techniques) on post-World War II American literature. Additionally this collection provides insight into the editing and publishing of little magazines in the United States.

Series Descriptions

Related Material

Aldan materials can also be found in several other HRHRC collections, including the El Corno Emplumado, Judson Crews, Edward Lucie-Smith, Gerard Malanga, Willard Mass, and Eugene Walter collections. The HRHRC Vertical File contains a couple of items relating to later publications by Aldan.

Index Terms


Allen, Donald Merriam, 1912-
Ashbery, John
Ashton, Dore
Baraka, Imamu Amiri, 1934-
Beck, Julian
Benet, William Rose, 1886-1950
Blackburn, Paul
Bly, Robert
Caetani, Marguerite
Corso, Gregory
Creeley, Robert, 1926-
De Kooning, Elaine
De Kooning, William, 1904-
Dlugoszewski, Lucia, 1931-
Eberhart, Richard, 1904-
Elmslie, Kenward
Ferlinghetti, Lawrence
Field, Edward
Ford, Charles Henri
Fraser, Kathleen, 1937-
Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-
Guest, Barbara
Hawkins, Erick
Hitchcock, George
Koch, Kenneth, 1925-
Levertov, Dennis, 1923-
Logue, Christopher, 1926-
Mallarme, Stephane, 1852-1898
McClure, Michael
Merrill, James Ingram
Miller, Henry, 1891-
Norse, Harold
O'Hara, Frank
Olson, Charles, 1910-1970
Pollock, Jackson, 1904-
Rexroth, Kenneth, 1905-
Rivers, Larry, 1925-
Rorem, Ned, 1923-
Schuyler, James
Stein, Elliott
Swenson, May
Toklas, Alice B.
Triem, Eve, 1902-
Tzara, Tristan, 1896-1963
Walter, Eugene, 1921-
Weaver, William, 1923-
Welch, Lew
Whalen, Philip


Poetry--Translations into English
Women poets, American

Document Types

First drafts
Galley proofs

Daisy Aldan Papers--Detailed Description