Scope and Contents
||The Robert Lowell Collection, circa 1845-1988, consist mainly of Lowell's working
for the period 1970-1977. As such the papers include heavily revised drafts of
manuscripts, galleys, and page proofs for Notebook (1970), The Dolphin
(1973), For Lizzie and Harriet
(1973), History (1973), and
Day By Day (1977). Also present
are an early notebook, manuscripts for a few earlier works such as "Endecott and the Red Cross" (1965)
and "Prometheus Bound" (1969),
manuscripts for works published posthumously such as The Oresteia of Aeschylus (1978) and Collected Prose (1987), as well as
some unfinished and/or unpublished items. The balance of the collection contains
manuscripts by friends, colleagues, and students, as well as correspondence,
clippings, financial and legal papers, honorary degrees, medical papers, music
scores, photographs, school publications and yearbooks, and sound recordings.
||The bulk of this collection was acquired in 1982 and came in two large suitcases,
largely unorganized and unlabelled. Lowell was frequently assisted by the poet
Bidart during the 1970s, who was consulted for advice regarding the organization
arrangement of manuscripts in this collection. The collection has been arranged
four series: I. Works, circa 1930s-1987 (14 boxes), II. Correspondence, 1938-1977
boxes), III. Personal Papers, 1845-1988 (5 boxes), and IV. Sound Recordings and
Music Scores, 1958-1987 (19 items).
||The papers serve to document various aspects of Robert Lowell's life, chiefly his
activities as poet, translator, and playwright, especially during the last seven
years of his life. His working practices as a poet, his propensity for revision,
his evolving style during this later period are especially well represented in
manuscripts. His correspondence from colleagues and friends deals in part with
divorce from Elizabeth Hardwick and subsequent marriage to Caroline Blackwood,
his controversial treatment of these events in his poetry. Among Lowell's
correspondents in this collection are William Alfred, Rolando Anzilotti, Frank
Bidart, Elizabeth Bishop, Caroline Blackwood, Blair Clark, Elizabeth Hardwick,
Stanley Kunitz, Harriet Winslow Lowell, Eugene J. McCarthy, Mary McCarthy, William
Meredith, Marcia Nardi, Adrienne Cecile Rich, I. A. Richards, W. D. Snodgrass,
Stafford, Allen Tate, Peter Hillsman Taylor, Robert Penn Warren, and others.
||In addition to the manuscripts and correspondence, various clippings of reviews and
other critical assessments of Lowell's life and works are present, which further
understanding of Lowell and his work. Some clippings, programs, handbills and
materials concerning productions of Lowell's plays ( "Benito Cereno,""Endecott and the Red Cross,""The Old Glory,""The Oresteia," and "Phaedra") are present, as are
reviews and recordings of some musical settings of his work (Elliott Carter's
In Sleep, In Thunder, Benjamin
Britten's Phaedra, and John
Hopkins' White Winter, Black
||Lowell's early life is documented by photographs, family documents, school
publications, and medical files which detail Merrill Moore's psychiatric treatment
of Lowell, circa 1935-1941. Correspondence to Moore includes letters from Lowell,
well as from family members and friends: Blair Clark, Anne Dick, Richard Eberhart,
James Laughlin, Charlotte Winslow Lowell, Robert Traill Spence Lowell III, David
McDowell, Frank Parker, John Crowe Ransom, Robb Ransom, Jean Stafford, Milton
Allen Tate, Peter Hillsman Taylor, and Robert Penn Warren, and others.
||His life in later years is chiefly detailed by the aforementioned manuscripts and
correspondence, but further documentation of his activities is found among the
financial and legal papers. Obituaries and items collected from various memorial
services round out the collection, recording the response to Lowell's death by
contemporaries and the press.
||There is also substantial information in the correspondence from other poets and
writers which will assist the researcher interested in these various figures.
Additionally, there are manuscripts present by some of these writers, such as
Elizabeth Bishop, Seamus Heaney, Stanley Kunitz, Marcia Nardi, I. A. Richards,
Hillsman Taylor, and Robert Penn Warren. To a lesser extent, there are also
manuscripts from some of Lowell's students, as well as his own notes regarding
students, which relate to his role as educator.
||Series I. Works, circa 1930s-1987, bulk 1970-1977 (14 boxes)
||Heavily revised drafts of manuscripts, galleys, and page proofs for Lowell's
major works published between 1973-1977 ( The Dolphin, For Lizzie and Harriet, History, and Day By Day) form the majority
of this series. Less complete is the material present for the revised
edition of Notebook (1970),
which is represented by galleys and page proofs. Additional major works
present include the plays "Endecott and the Red Cross" (scripts and production materials
for a 1968 staging) and "Prometheus Bound" (manuscripts and page proofs). Drafts of
several prose pieces, such as "A Moment in American History" and "New England and Further," which formed the
basis for the posthumous Collected
Prose (1987), are also part of this collection.
||Numerous unidentified and/or unpublished poems, such as the late poem "Summer Tides" and an
unpublished poem to Randall Jarrell are also among these papers, as are
unpublished essays on John Crowe Ransom, Lieutenant William L. Calley, and
others. There is one early undated notebook of Lowell's, probably dating
back to his school days, which appears to contain Latin and Greek texts,
translations, transcriptions of poems, and some original poems.
||The Works are arranged alphabetically by title, except for several folders of
manuscripts gathered after Lowell's death by Frank Bidart and Elizabeth
Hardwick, which have been left intact and have been placed at the end of the
series. For the published volumes of poetry, the manuscripts of individual
poems are generally arranged according to the order in which they appear in
the publication. Some drafts of the poetry reflect a variant order of poems
from the final published version, and the presumed original order of these
drafts has been left intact. Individual manuscripts are grouped by title or
first line in alphabetic folders, i.e. A-D, E, F, etc. An outline of the
arrangement of the manuscripts appears on page 21 of this guide. An index to
all manuscripts, by title or by first line (if untitled), has been compiled
and also forms a part of this guide.
||Lowell's scrupulous attention to detail and propensity for revision is amply
demonstrated in the multiple drafts of most of his poems: frequently there
are more than ten versions, and some have as many as one hundred different
renditions. Numerous revisions and corrections to the manuscripts appear in
Lowell's hand, as well as those of Frank Bidart and Caroline Blackwood.
Lowell sometimes left drafts of poems untitled, though frequently he also
revised the titles of poems as he progressed through these drafts. Often
these are manuscript pages with a draft of one poem on the front, and a
draft of a different poem on the verso. Due to the large number of
revisions, the index to manuscripts in this guide should be consulted as a
first step to locate variants of individual poems which are scattered
amongst the manuscripts for these books.
||The manuscripts for Notebook
(1970) and for the three works published in 1973 ( The Dolphin, For Lizzie and Harriet, and
History) document the
complexities of Lowell's changing poetic style during this period and his
perceptions of his poetry. Notebook
(1970) included revisions of about 100 poems from Notebook 1967-1968, along with
97 new poems. Lowell himself sheepishly admitted in a note to the
publication"I am loath to display a litter of
variants... I couldn't stop writing and have handled my published book
as if it were manuscript." His continuing dissatisfaction with the
work resulted in yet further revision, breaking Notebook (1970) up into two new volumes,
For Lizzie and Harriet
(67 poems) and History
(which incorporated 283 Notebook poems among its 368 poems). Careful analysis of the
manuscripts of For Lizzie and
Harriet and History
will illuminate the evolution of these works, especially in regard
to which of the Notebook
poems in what sequences appeared in which drafts as compared with
their final published versions.
||Lowell further revised some poems that had appeared in The Dolphin, For Lizzie and Harriet, and
History when Selected Poems was compiled
and published in 1976. While Selected Poems is not represented in this collection by a group
of manuscripts, it is possible that some of the drafts identified as
belonging to one of the three 1973 works could represent the earlier
discarded versions Lowell indicated he used for this publication.
||The materials gathered by Frank Bidart largely concern Day By Day, although there are numerous poems
from other works or some which may be unpublished. Manuscripts that were
published after Lowell's death, such as The Oresteia of Aeschylus (1978), are also
present, as is Lowell's "Cursory list of errors with HarrietCursory list of errors with
Harriet" in which Lowell enumerated what he thought were his mistakes
on his daughter's visit to England.
||Manuscript items gathered by Elizabeth Hardwick also contain materials
relating to Day By Day,
various poems from other works, and unpublished poems, as well as
several prose pieces including "Art and Evil" and "New England and Further," which appeared in Collected Prose (1987).
Several of these manuscripts are photocopies, and may represent copies of
originals held by other repositories.
||Series II. Correspondence, 1938-1977, bulk 1970-1977 (2 boxes)
||The majority of this series consists of incoming correspondence, often
addressed to both Lowell and Caroline Blackwood, his third wife. It is
arranged alphabetically by author.
||Among the correspondents are William Alfred, A. (Alfred) Alvarez, Rolando
Anzilotti, Ben Belitt, Frank Bidart, Elizabeth Bishop, Caroline Blackwood,
Blair Clark, Norman Cousins, Malcolm Cowley, Donald Davie, Richard Eberhart,
Gavin Ewart, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Giroux, Ian Hamilton, Elizabeth
Hardwick, Samuel John Hazo, Seamus Heaney, Lillian Hellman, Mary Jarrell,
Lucia Joyce, Alfred Kazin, Robert F. Kennedy, Stanley Kunitz, Philip Larkin,
James Laughlin, Gordon Lish, Harriet Winslow Lowell, Robie Macauley, Eugene
J. McCarthy, Mary McCarthy, J. D. McClatchy, Gerard Malanga, William
Meredith, Marcia Nardi, Howard Nemerov, Sidney Nolan, Jacqueline Kennedy
Onassis, Frank Parker, J. F. Powers, Philip Rahv, Adrienne Cecile Rich, I.
A. Richards, Arthur Schlesinger, W. D. Snodgrass, Jean Stafford, Allen Tate,
Eleanor Ross Taylor, Peter Hillsman Taylor, Diana Trilling, Mona Van Duyn,
Andrei Voznesenskii, Derek Walcott, Robert Penn Warren, Edward Weeks,
Richard Wilbur, Edmund Wilson, and others. A complete index of
correspondents is included in this guide.
||The letters cover a broad range of subjects, the most important of which deal
with Lowell's relationship and divorce from his second wife, Elizabeth
Hardwick, and his interpretation of their separation in The Dolphin. Other topics
covered in the correspondence include requests for assistance from
struggling poets, family letters, opinions on literary and political
movements of the 1970s, letters of congratulation on the birth of his son,
requests for literary contributions to magazines or festivals, personal
letters, and news about friends and acquaintances. It should be noted that a
few of the letters have notes or lines of poetry scribbled by Lowell on the
back. Some correspondents enclosed manuscripts of articles or poems with
their letters. A separate index of manuscripts by other authors appears at
the end of this guide.
||Also found in this series is a folder of outgoing mail from Lowell, a folder
of letters to Caroline Blackwood, and a folder of correspondence addressed
to persons other than Lowell or Blackwood. Further outgoing correspondence
from Lowell will be found in the Personal Papers series, among the medical
files of Merrill Moore.
||Series III. Personal Papers, circa 1845-1988 (5 boxes)
||A variety of personal papers concerning Lowell or of interest to him makes up
this series. These papers are arranged alphabetically by format: Clippings,
Critical Essays, Documents, Financial Papers, Honorary Degrees, Interviews,
Legal Papers, Medical Files, Memorials, Notes and Sketches, Photographs,
School Publications, Works by Other Writers, and Miscellaneous.
||Various aspects of Lowell's life are documented by the personal records.
Chronologically speaking, these include the Photographs (1845-1980s),
Documents (1933-1945), School Publications (1933-1935), Medical Files
(1935-1950s), Honorary Degrees (1961-1977), Financial Papers (1970-1977),
Legal Papers (1972-1977), and Memorials (1977-1987).
||The photographs include images of Lowell's grandparents and parents, and
depict Lowell from his childhood through his adult life. Pictured with him
are his wife Elizabeth Hardwick, children Harriet and Sheridan, and
colleagues and friends, including Elizabeth Bishop, Ezra Pound, John Crowe
Ransom, Allen Tate, Peter Hillsman Taylor, and Robert Penn Warren. The
photographs that include Lowell are arranged chronologically. Those which do
not include him are grouped separately as family photographs. Another folder
includes photographs of illustrations intended for The Dolphin, For Lizzie and Harriet, and
||Among the documents are copies of family birth and death certificates, as
well as Lowell's own certificate of parole dated 1944. The school
publications date from Lowell's days at St. Mark's School and include class
yearbooks as well as a 1935 issue of The Vindex with an article by Lowell entitled
||Of special note among these personal records are the medical files created by
Dr. Merrill Moore, a poet and psychiatrist who treated Lowell from 1935 to
1941. The bulk of these files cover the years 1937-1939, though there is a
gap for the period June through November, 1937.
||The files consist of correspondence, internal memoranda, photographs,
clippings, a report card from Kenyon College, and various internal office
forms (such as psychotherapy records, telephone calls, etc.), all of which
serve to document the case. Lowell's problems and his relationship with his
parents are major topics, as are Lowell's relationships with others, such as
Frank Parker, Anne Dick, and Jean Stafford. The files have been left in
their original chronological order and include carbon copies of outgoing
correspondence from Moore along with incoming correspondence from Lowell,
his parents, other doctors, and friends. Correspondents include Blair Clark,
Anne Dick, Richard Eberhart, James Laughlin, Charlotte Winslow Lowell,
Robert Traill Spence Lowell III, David McDowell, Frank Parker, John Crowe
Ransom, Robb Ransom, Jean Stafford, Milton Starr, Allen Tate, Peter Hillsman
Taylor, and Robert Penn Warren. All correspondents in this subseries are
included in the correspondents index in this guide.
||One additional folder contains items identified by Elizabeth Hardwick as
concerning Lowell's treatment by Dr. Vernon Williams during the 1950s.
||Lowell's honorary degrees from several colleges and universities are also
included in these papers.
||The financial and legal papers are arranged chronologically and all date from
the 1970s. Included are such items as Lowell's 1972 will, a copy of his
divorce decree from Elizabeth Hardwick, banking papers, bills, book
contracts, royalty statements, tax documents, and trust statements.
||Materials collected by Elizabeth Hardwick from various memorial services for
Robert Lowell are arranged chronologically by service, and include programs,
invitations, and texts for readings.
||The Clippings (1965-1988), Critical Essays (1970-1987), and Interviews (1971)
all consist of writings about Lowell and his work. The clippings are
predominately reviews of published works, productions of plays, and musical
settings of his work. A few of the plays are also represented by other
materials, such as programs and handbills. Review clippings and related
materials are arranged alphabetically by title of the work. One folder
consists of clippings of obituaries upon Lowell's death in 1977.
Manuscripts, reprints, and clippings of various critical essays about Lowell
occupy one folder. Two interviews, with Ian Hamilton and V. S. Naipaul, are
||Works by other writers include some of the manuscripts Lowell received from
students, colleagues, and friends. Included are manuscripts by writers such
as Elizabeth Bishop, Seamus Heaney, Stanley Kunitz, Marcia Nardi, I. A.
Richards, Peter Hillsman Taylor, and Robert Penn Warren. These are arranged
alphabetically by author. It should be noted that some of the manuscripts
remain where they were originally located with incoming letters in the
Correspondence Series. Locations for all manuscripts by other writers are included
in a separate index at the end of this guide.
||The Notes and Sketches include Lowell's typed chronology of Caroline
Blackwood's marriage to Israel Citkowitz, notes about his students, and
other miscellaneous notes. Other miscellany, including various clippings and
ephemera saved by Lowell, are found in the Miscellaneous folder at the end
of this Series.
||Series IV. Sound Recordings and Music Scores, 1958-1987, undated (19 items)
||This group of 18 sound recordings consists of cassettes, reels, and discs,
including several commercially produced recordings, which were acquired from
Elizabeth Hardwick. Several are spoken word recordings of Lowell and/or
other poets (such as Ezra Pound) reading from his poetry or translations.
The rest are recordings of plays by Lowell ( "Benito Cereno") or of musical settings of his
work ( In Sleep, In Thunder
by Elliott Carter, Phaedra
by Benjamin Britten, and White Winter, Black Spring, by John Hopkins). One music score,
for White Winter, Black Spring,
is also present. Items are arranged by format, and then
alphabetically by title or artist.