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William Carlos Williams papers, 1940-1965

Prepared By Dean Keller. Revised by Athena Salaba
1 document case, .33 cubic foot, 11th floor


Biographical Note

William Carlos Williams was born on September 17, 1883, in Rutherford, N.J., and died March 4, 1963, in Rutherford. The son of William George and Raquel Helene (Hoheb) Williams, Williams received an M.D. from University of Pennsylvania in 1906, and did postgraduate studies at University of Leipzig.

He is considered to be one of the finest American poets of his generation. A man of various talents, he was a novelist, playwright, editor, essayist, and practicing physician.

Williams' poetic expression was more natural than the poetic style established by Eliot. Among the numerous awards he received over the years was the Pulitzer Prize in poetry for Pictures From Brueghel in 1963.

Among his poetic works are: The Tempers (1917); Sour Grapes (1921); The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams, 1906-1938 (1938); Paterson (1946-1948); The Clouds (1948); The Desert Music and Other Poems (1954), etc.

He also wrote: The Great American Novel (1923); A Voyage to Pagany (novel, 1928); A Novelette and Other Prose (1932); The Autobiography of William Carlos Williams (1967); Selected Essays (1954); Selected Letters of William Carlos Williams (1957), etc.


Scope and content

One of the collection management goals of the Department of Special Collections and Archives is to collect materials about modern American poetry. These collections are enhanced by the addition of available manuscripts.

The collection includes some of Williams' poems, a critical essay on Williams' writing and his correspondence with Morris Weisenthal, David Ignatow, and Cid Corman.

The collection is arranged in chronological order.

The material was purchased mainly from James R. Lowell's Asphodel Bookshop, Cleveland, Ohio, in 1972. The letters from and to Cid Corman were purchased from Cid Corman, Kyoto, Japan, in 1972.

Sponsor

The purchase of this collection was funded by the Robert L. Baumgardner, Jr. Memorial Collection of Contemporary Poetry endowment.


Folder--Contents

  1. 1940, 3 Jan.: Williams, William Carlos, 1883-1963.
    Dartmouth talk. Autograph Speech Signed. 31 p., 10.5 cm.
    Written on the versos of leaves in one of Dr. Williams' prescription pads.
  2. 1945, 1 Mar.: Williams, William Carlos, 1883-1963.
    Paterson [Book I] . Typed Poem Signed. 64 p., 27.7 cm.
    A few pencil notes and corrections throughout. The text varies significantly from the published version.
    Accompanying the manuscript is a set of heavily corrected galley proofs, 25 p., which varies considerably from both manuscripts and published book.
    Accompanied by a set of page proofs, 22 p., with a few corrections.
    Published: New York, New Directions, 1946.
  3. 1946, 21 Oct.: Williams, William Carlos, 1883-1963.
    The Build-up. Chapter 1. Typed Document Signed. 16 p., 28 cm.
    Heavily corrected by the author. Inscribed for Bonnie Golightly.
    This version first appeared in Briarcliffe Quarterly, III. 2 (Oct., 1946), 176-184. See Wallace, C 376.
  4. 1946, 21 Oct.: Williams, W[illiam] C[arlos], 1883-1963. Rutherford, N.J. To Bonnie Golightly.
    Sends her manuscript of 1st chapter of The Buildup ; discusses Briarcliffe Q; her novel. Typed Letter Signed. 1 p., 17.6 cm.
  5. 1948, 9 Aug.: Williams, [William Carlos], 1883-1963. To David Ignatow.
    Thanks him for his book of poems, which he will review; compares it with a book by Jacques Prevert and compares both with some of his work. Typed Letter Signed. 2 p., 28 cm.
    Published in Selected Letters of William Carlos Williams, pp. 266-267.
  6. 1948, 9 [Aug.]: Williams, [William Carlos], 1883-1963. To [David] Ignatow.
    Says he wrote an indifferent letter earlier in day; writes now a detailed criticism of Ignatow's poetry. Typed Letter Signed. 1 p., 28 cm.
  7. 1948, 25 Aug.: Williams, [William Carlos], 1883-1963, [Rutherford, N.J.] To [David] Ignatow, [New York, N.Y.]
    Wrote a review (?) of his book. Autograph Letter Signed. 1 p., 28 cm.
  8. 1949, 16 Feb.: [Williams, William Carlos], 1883-1963, [Rutherford, N.J.] To [Morris Weisenthal, New York, N.Y.]
    Does not write out his speeches; does not have time to write a treatise; "Poems are things that count..." Autograph Letter. 2 p., 28.5 cm.
  9. [1949, 25 Mar.]: Williams, William Carlos, 1883-1963.
    Paterson: Book III. Tentative Preface. Typed Poem Signed. 4 p., 28 cm.
    Sent to Morris Weisenthal.
    See Williams to Weisenthal, March 25, 1949 and April 3, 1949.
    Published in 12th-Street, III, 1 (Dec. 1949), 9-11. See Wallace, C 435.
  10. 1949, 25 Mar.: Williams, W[illiam] C[arlos], 1883-1963, Rutherford, N.J. To [Morris] Weisenthal.
    Sends him the "Preface" to Paterson: Book III. Typed Letter Signed. 1 p., 17.5 cm.
  11. 1949, 27 Mar.: [Williams], Bill [William Carlos], 1883-1963, Rutherford, N.J. To David Ignatow, New York, N.Y.
    Scripts arrived safely. Autograph Postcard Signed. 1 p., 8.4 cm.
  12. [1949, Mar.]: [Williams], Bill [William Carlos], 1883-1963, [Rutherford, N.J.] To Dave [David Ignatow, New York, N.Y.]
    Criticism of his "script." Typed Letter Signed. 2 p., 28.5 cm.
  13. 1949, 3 Apr.: [Williams, William Carlos], 1883-1963, Rutherford, N.J. To [Morris] Weisenthal.
    Pleased he can use Paterson: Book III. Tentative Preface in 12th Street. Typed Letter. 1 p., 26.5 cm.
  14. 1949, 28 Apr.: [Williams], Bill [William Carlos], 1883-1963, Rutherford, N.J. To David Ignatow, New York, N.Y.
    Arranges a visit. Autograph Postcard Signed. 1 p., 8.4 cm.
  15. [1949], 12 May: [Williams], Bill [William Carlos], 1883-1963, [Rutherford, N.J.] To Dave [David Ignatow, New York, N.Y.]
    Arranges visits. Typed Letter Signed. 1 p., 28.5 cm.
  16. 1949, 18 May: Williams, William Carlos, 1883-1963.
    Paterson: Book III. Typed Poem Signed. 75 p., 28 cm.
    Carbon copy of the complete book with corrections in pencil throughout and significant variations from the printed version.
    Inscribed for David Ignatow.
    Published: New York, New Directions, 1949.
  17. [1950?], 16 Jan.: [Williams], Bill [William Carlos], 1883-1963. To Dave [David Ignatow].
    Discusses poetics; Ignatow's work. Typed Letter Signed. 2 p., 28.5 cm.
  18. [1950, 28 Jan.]: [Williams], Bill [William Carlos], 1883-1963, [Rutherford, N.J.] To Dave [David Ignatow, New York, N.Y.]
    Advice on his writing. Typed Letter Signed. 1 p., 28.5 cm.
  19. 1950, 10 Mar.: Williams, [William Carlos], 1883-1963, Rutherford, N.J. To [John?] Black.
    Writes about his book of poems. Typed Letter Signed. 1 p., 28.5 cm.
  20. 1950, 17 Mar.: [Williams], Bill [William Carlos], 1883-1963, Rutherford, N.J. To David Ignatow, New York, N.Y.
    Trying to get tickets for him for a reading. Autograph Postcard Signed. 1 p., 8.4 cm.
  21. [1950], 27 Apr.: [Williams], Bill [William Carlos], 1883-1963, Rutherford, N.J. To Dave [David Ignatow, New York, N.Y.]
    Was too tired to give a good reading. Typed Letter Signed. 1 p., 28.5 cm.
  22. 1950, 7 Jun.: [Williams], Bill [William Carlos], 1883-1963, [Rutherford, N.J.] To Dave [David Ignatow, New York, N.Y.]
    Gives permission to use his name on Guggenheim application; Ignatow's growth as a poet; Williams' publicity and honors get in the way of friends. Typed Letter Signed. 1 p., 28.4 cm.
  23. [1950?], 21 June: [Williams], Bill [William Carlos], 1883-1963. To Dave [David Ignatow].
    Will read his poems as soon as he can; notes plans to produce Dream of Love. Typed Letter Signed. 1 p., 28.5 cm.
  24. [1950?], 2 Jul.: [Williams], Bill [William Carlos], 1883-1963. To Dave [David Ignatow].
    Comments on his writing; why he likes it. Typed Letter Signed. 1 p., 28.5 cm.
  25. [1950?]:
    Critical essay on the poetry of William Carlos Williams by an unknown author. Typed Essay (carbon copy). 13 p., 28 cm.
    Williams has made corrections throughout, wrote "Well done" and initialed it at the end.
  26. 1951, 26 Jan.: [Williams], Bill [William Carlos], 1883-1963. To Dave [David Ignatow].
    Sends him a poem; comments on the writing of his autobiography. The poem is The Drunkard. Typed Letter Signed. 2 p., 28.5 cm.
    Poem published in Beloit Poetry J., I, 3 (Spring, 1951), 9 and in Collected Earlier Poems, 1951.
  27. 1951, 31 Jan.: Williams, W[illiam] C[arlos], 1883-1963, Rutherford, N.J. To David Ignatow, Hicksville, N.Y.
    Asks him to sign copyright statement for the poem; finishing autobiography. Typed Postcard. 1 p., 8.4 cm.
  28. 1951, 17 Feb.: [Williams], Bill [William Carlos], 1883-1963, Rutherford, N.J. To David Ignatow, Hicksville, N.Y.
    Accepts a deadline; comments on how he is rushed. Autograph Postcard Signed. 1 p., 8.4 cm.
  29. [1951], 2 May: [Williams], Bill [William Carlos], 1883-1963. To Dave [David Ignatow].
    Can't find a manuscript sent to him by a friend of Ignatow. Typed Letter Signed. 1 p., 28.5 cm.
  30. 1951, 26 May: [Williams], Bill [William Carlos], 1883-1963. To Dave [David Ignatow].
    Proud of Ignatow's latest work; comments on his Phi Beta Kappa poem. Typed Letter Signed. 1 p., 27.7 cm.
  31. 1951, 25 Sep.: [Williams], Bill [William Carlos], 1883-1963, Rutherford, N.J. To David Ignatow, Hicksville, N.Y.
    Wrote to Elizabeth Ames about him; comments on the autobiography. Typed Postcard. 1 p., 9 cm.
  32. 1951, 29 Nov.: Williams, William Carlos, 1883-1963, Rutherford, N.J. To [James R.] Lowell, [Cleveland, Ohio].
    Discusses the purchase of books. Typed Letter Signed. 1 p., 28.5 cm.
  33. 1952, 15 Nov.: Williams, Florence, Rutherford, N.J. To David Ignatow, New York, N.Y.
    Suggests a visit. Autograph Letter Signed. 1 p., 8.4 cm.
  34. 1953, 29 Sep.: [Williams], Bill [William Carlos], 1883-1963, Rutherford, N.J. To Cid [Corman].
    Sends an article for Origin (?). Typed Letter Signed. 1 p., 28.3 cm.
  35. 1953, 30 Sep.: [Corman], Cid. To Bill [William Carlos Williams].
    Thanks him for the statement; discusses "measure"; analyzes Williams' poem The Act. Typed Letter Signed. 3 p., 27.7 cm.
  36. 1953, 9 Oct.: [Corman, Cid]. To Bill [William Carlos Williams].
    Discusses "measure"; mentions Denise Levertov; his visit to Williams. Typed Letter (carbon copy). 3 p., 27.7 cm.
  37. 1954, 9 Feb.: [Williams], Bill [William Carlos], 1883-1963. To Cid [Corman].
    Discusses "measure." Typed Letter Signed. 1 p., 28.5 cm.
  38. 1954, 7 Apr.: [Williams], Bill [William Carlos], 1883-1963. To Cid [Corman].
    Discusses a contribution to Origin. Typed Letter Signed. 1 p., 27.9 cm.
  39. 1958, 18 Nov.: Williams, William Carlos, 1883-1963.
    [William Stanley Braithwaite]. Typed Essay Signed. 1 p., 28 cm.
  40. 1965, 22 Nov.: [Williams], Floss [Florence]. To Cid [Corman, Kyoto, Japan].
    Looks forward to having Origin again. Autograph Letter Signed. 1 p., 10.2 cm.
  41. no date: [Williams], Bill [William Carlos], 1883-1963. To Dave [David Ignatow].
    Comments on Ignatow's poems. Typed Letter Signed. 2 p., 28.5 cm.