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University of Texas at Austin

James Tate:

An Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Tate, James, 1943-2015
Title: James Tate Papers
Dates: 1944-1998 (bulk 1962-1998)
Extent: 53 boxes, 33 periodical boxes, 1 galley folder, 1 oversize folder (30.66 linear feet)
Abstract: Correspondence, typed and handwritten manuscript drafts, galley proofs, page proofs, photographs, drawings, posters, and published works in serials document James Tate's literary work and personal life, from the early 1960s to the late 1990s.
Language: English
Access: Open for research

Administrative Information

Acquisition: Purchases, 1969 (R4825), 1998 (R14334)
Processed by: Suzanne Casey, Stephen Mielke, 2005

The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Center

Biographical Sketch

James Vincent Tate was born James Vincent Appleby on December 8, 1943, in Kansas City, Missouri, to Samuel Vincent Appleby and Betty Jean Whitsitt. Tate's father, a B-17 co-pilot during the Second World War, was killed on a bombing mission over Germany on April 11, 1944.
Tate grew up with his mother in and around Kansas City, living with relatives until he was seven. Tate's mother remarried twice before he left for college in 1960, and he eventually took the surname of his second stepfather.
Tate attended Kansas State College and The University of Missouri, taking several breaks in his studies to travel in Europe and live in New York City and New Orleans. He received his B.A. from Kansas State College in 1965, and then enrolled in The University of Iowa's Writers Workshop where he received an M.F.A. in 1967.
Tate's first publication of collected poems, Cages (1966), was followed by The Lost Pilot, which won the 1966 Yale Younger Poets Award and was published by Yale University Press in 1967. Noted for surreal landscapes and eccentric use of language, Tate has received much critical acclaim for The Lost Pilot and for later works, including Absences (1972), and Constant Defender (1983). His many awards include Poet of the Year, Phi Beta Kappa, 1972; the National Institute of Arts and Letters award for poetry, 1974; the Pulitzer Prize for poetry for Selected Poems, 1992; the National Book Award for Worshipful Company of Fletchers, 1994; and the 1995 Tanning Prize from the Academy of American Poets.
Tate's poems have appeared in numerous magazines, including The American Poetry Review, Kayak, and The Seneca Review. In addition to writing, Tate has held teaching positions at the University of Iowa (1966-1967), the University of California at Berkeley (1967-1968), Columbia University (1969-1971), and Emerson College in Boston (1970-1971), and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (1971-2015).
Tate married Liselotte Jonsson in 1972. They separated in 1986 and he later married poet Dara Wier. Tate died July 8, 2015.


"James (Vincent) Tate."Contemporary Authors Online, (accessed 26 July 2005).
Stroffolino, Chris. "James Tate."Dictionary of Literary Biography Online, (accessed 26 July 2005).

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, typed and handwritten manuscript drafts, galley proofs, page proofs, photographs, drawings, posters, and published works in serials document James Tate's literary work and personal life, from the early 1960s to the late 1990s. The earliest item is a circa 1944 letter to Tate's father from an unidentified author, but the bulk of the materials date from 1962 to 1998.
The papers are organized into five series: I. Works, 1962-1998; II. Correspondence, circa 1944-1998 (bulk 1962-1998); III. Subject Files, 1964-1997; IV. Works by Others, 1966-1996; and V. Published Materials, 1966-1997.
Correspondence is the largest series and predominantly contains incoming letters to Tate from friends, other poets, and publishers. Also included is financial information, as well as correspondence related to Tate's literary activities and his employment at The University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Significant correspondents include Russell Banks, Marvin Bell, Michael Benedikt, Gerard Malanga, Charles Simic, Anne Waldman, and Charles Wright. The subject files in Series III. further document Tate's literary career and his personal life.
The Works series includes numerous single-page, typed drafts of individual poems, as well as manuscript and other prepublication forms of Tate's books. Published copies of single poems or prose works are located in the Published Materials series. Drafts, photocopies, and offprints of works sent to Tate by poets and writers such as John Ashbery, Carolyn Forché, and Leslie Wolf are located in the Works by Others series. Many contain Tate's handwritten comments.
The materials are generally in good condition, although some of the paper is yellowed and brittle.

James Tate Papers--Series Descriptions

Separated Material

Two award plaques have been transferred to the Ransom Center's Personal Effects Collection.

Index Terms


Ashbery, John, 1927-
Bell, Marvin.
Benedikt, Michael, 1935-
Browne, Michael Dennis.
Corbett, William, 1942-
DeGruson, Gene.
Edson, Russell.
Forché, Carolyn.
Grenier, Robert.
Haviaras, Stratis, 1935-
Howe, Fanny.
Klappert, Peter.
Knott, Bill, 1940-
Lux, Thomas, 1946-
Malanga, Gerard.
Matthews, William, 1942-1997.
Orlen, Steve, 1942-
Randall, James, 1938-
Simic, Charles, 1938-
Skillings, R. D. (Roger D.), 1937-
Skinner, Knute, 1929-
Smith, Dave, 1942-
Waldman, Anne, 1945-
Welch, James, 1940-
Wier, Dara, 1949-
Williams, C. K. (Charles Kenneth), 1936-
Wolf, Leslie.
Wright, Charles, 1935-
Yang, Lian, 1955-


Atlantic Monthly Press.
Wesleyan University (Middletown, Conn.). Press.
Yale University Press.


Poetry, Modern -- 20th century.
Poets, American -- 20th century.

Document Types

Galley proofs.

James Tate Papers--Container List