Other Collections

Letters by many notable literary women comprise a significant part of other collections, exhibited as follows:

from the Biddle Family Papers

Gift of the Biddle Family

Elizabeth Bishop (1911-79), poet. Typed letter signed to Katherine Biddle, dated January 13, 1950. Bishop is writing as Chair of Poetry concerning activities of the Fellows of the Library of Congress in American Letters. Mentions a reading by Robert Penn Warren at the Institute of Contemporary Arts to which all Fellows are invited.

Kay Boyle (1902-92), poet, writer. Autograph letter signed to Francis Biddle, dated December 25, 1953, complimenting the latter for a recent article/review in the New Republic.

Marguerite Caetani (1880-1963), patron of the arts and well-known in the literary world as editor of Botteghe Oscure, a biannual review publishing original poetry and fiction from England, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and the U.S. in the original language. Andre Malraux, Albert Camus, Paul Valery, Ignazio Silone, Robert Graves, Archibald MacLeish, E.E. Cummings and Marianne Moore are a few of the many writers whose works appeared in the journal. Born Marguerite Van Auken, she was half-sister to Katherine Biddle, marrying Roffredo Caetani, 17th Duke of Sermoneta and Prince di Bassiano in 1911.

Marguerite Caetani. Autograph letter signed to Katherine Biddle, dated March 24 [1947], with reference to "Iris" [Origo], and to the beauty of the season at Ninfa, a ruined medieval town, abandoned centuries ago, which Princess Caetani transformed into a garden of roses and rare flowers.

Marguerite Caetani. Botteghe Oscure. Publication notice for the second volume (1948).

Agnes de Mille (1905-93), American dancer, choreographer, and author of articles and books about dance. Autograph letter signed to Katherine Biddle, with envelope postmarked February 8, 1961. Thanking the latter for an enjoyable visit.

Babette Deutsch (1895-1982), poet. Autograph letter signed to Katherine Biddle, dated January 6, 1957. With reference to the latter’s review of Exil by St. John Perse (Alexis Leger) which Deutsch feels is "one of the most illuminating..."

Isabella Gardner (1915-81), poet. Autograph letter signed to Katherine Biddle, dated April 1, 1960, with thanks for an enjoyable dinner party and mention of meeting Gardner’s husband Allen Tate and poet Robert Lowell for a stroll around Dumbarton Oaks. Refers also to a visit to "Katherine Anne [Porter]...[who] was effulgent and indulgent and disarming in all her pinkness! Long pink skirt, pink sash, pink blouse, pink ears, pink house..."

Clare Boothe Luce (1903-87), editor, writer, U.S. ambassador. Autograph letter signed to Francis Biddle, dated February 6, 1944, regarding the death of her daughter, Ann Clare Brokaw.

Marion Merrell (pseud. "Clinch Calkins")(1895-1968), poet. Autograph letter signed to Katherine Biddle, dated December 5, 1931. With reference to her own work and to reading two of the latter’s poems, The Honeymooners, and To a Little Boy at Dancing Class, about which she comments: "...I don’t remember where I saw them but they made a deep impression on me when I did see then, and I used to watch for your name..."

Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957), Chilean poet and winner of the 1945 Nobel Poetry Award. Autograph letter signed, undated (in Spanish).

Nancy Mitford (1904-73), writer. Autograph letter signed to Francis Biddle, dated November 27, 1954.

Kathleen Raine (1908- ), poet. Autograph letter signed to Katherine Biddle, dated January 20, [1967]. With reference to introducing a friend and poet Peter Russell, also personally acquainted with Ezra Pound "...who has been a friend...for years and years." The letter also mentions plans by the literary journal Adam to publish a number on Marguerite Caetani, editor of the Italian literary review Botteghe Oscure.

[Other notable women writers included in the Biddle Family Papers: Rachel Crothers, Angna Enters, Katherine Anne Porter, Louise Bogan, Catherine Drinker Bowen, Anna Hempstead Branch, Dorothy Leger, Kathleen Louchheim, Mary Owings Miller, Louise Townsend Nicholl, Dorothy Norman, Iris Origo, Vittoria Ocampo, May Swenson, and Louise Varese.]

from the John L. Brown Papers

Gift of John L. Brown

Sylvia Beach (1887-1962), writer, editor. Typed letter signed to John Brown, dated January 20, 1958. With reference to preparing a talk on the publication by Shakespeare and Company of James Joyce’s Ulysses and writing about Joyce in her memoirs.

Angna Enters (1907-89), writer, artist, mime-dancer. Typed letter signed to John Brown, dated November 2, 1963, with reference to Kay Boyle, Lewis Mumford and Katherine Anne Porter.

Angna Enters. Self-portrait. Ink and water-color drawing, signed, dated 1963.

Carson McCullers (1917-67), novelist, playwright. Autograph letter signed to John and Simone Brown [circa November 1949]. With reference to her new play, The Member of the Wedding and plans for a forthcoming production.

Marianne Moore (1887-1972), poet. Autograph letter signed to Simone Brown, dated August 25, 1962, concerning her visit to Rome.

Katherine Anne Porter (1890-1980), writer. Autograph letter signed to John Brown, dated May 4, 1964, with envelope, concerning her plans to visit Mexico and remarking that "...Meantime I am looking for a house, or flat, trying to work and missing deadlines and today is not only the first sunny day practically since I saw you, but Hot as mole sauce..."

Katherine Anne Porter. Photograph, inscribed: "Easter in Rome 1963. K.A.P."

Alice B. Toklas (1877-1967), writer and friend of Gertrude Stein. Autograph letter signed to John Brown, dated February 19, 1956. With reference to The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook (1954) and to her work in progress on Memories of the Rue de Fleurus (later entitled, What is Remembered, c.1963).

 Alice B. Toklas. Autograph letter signed to John Brown, dated April 3, 1956. With reference to Pablo Picasso, Jean-Paul Sartre, Gertrude Stein and the latter’s opinion of Louis Bromfield’s work.

 [The John L. Brown Papers include letters from other notable women writers and artists: Josephine Baker, singer; Kay Boyle; Gilberte Brassai, artist and wife of the famous photographer Gyula Halasz Brassai; Marguerite Caetani; Julia Child, culinary author; Mina Curtiss; Anne Fremantle; Clare Goll; Elsa Gress; Dorothy Norman; and Irene Rice Pereira, artist.]


from the Michael Richey Papers

Gift of Michael Richey

Shirley Hazzard (1931- ), writer. Typed letter signed to Michael Richey, dated November 16, 1992. Hazzard reminisces about her time in Capri and impressions of Graham Greene whom she first saw there talking to Richey about Catherine Walston in a cafe where Hazzard habitually sat "doing the crossword in The Times."

from the Ward-McNeer Papers

Gift of May McNeer and Lynd Ward

May McNeer, noted children’s author and wife of artist Lynd Ward (1905-85). Autograph letter signed to Lynd Ward, undated, describing a visit to Sandersville, Georgia, presumably to research her family genealogy.

Gallery of Living Catholic Authors

Gift of Webster College

The collection includes many Catholic women writers (with some exhibited here): Dorothy Day, Anne Fremantle, Helen Iswolsky, Elizabeth Jordan, Marie Belloc Lowndes, Clare Boothe Luce, Raissa Maritain, Sister Miriam Gallagher, Kathleen Norris, Mary O’Hara, Julie Kernan, Barbara Ward, Alma Savage, Nicolete M. Stack, Anne Tansey, and Maria Augusta Von Trapp. For a complete listing, refer to the index to the collection.

The Gallery of Living Catholic Authors was founded by Sister Mary Joseph [Scherer], S.L., professor of English (from 1921), and librarian (1929-37) at Webster College in Webster Groves, Missouri. Her aim was to create a literary hall of fame for contemporary Catholic authors, and to foster an appreciation of Catholic letters by building a Catholic reading public. In May 1932, Sr. Mary Joseph invited 100 carefully selected Catholic writers to become members of the gallery. In 1954, membership numbered 775. By this time, the board of governors had created an academy of the gallery’s greatest authors, in the same tradition as the French Academy. Election to the academy was by a combined electoral and popular vote with vacancies decided by the board. Rev. Francis X. Talbot, S.J., chairman of the board and editor of America magazine, headed a national plebiscite in 1936. Ultimately, 31 places were filled: 11 American authors and 20 non-American. G.K. Chesterton was elected to the academy but died before the formal opening. Realization of a building went so far as a commission for designs from the great architect Ralph Adams Cram. Unfortunately, construction of the building never took place due to a lack of funding. (The collection includes a set of original blueprints by Cram.)

[Note: All exhibits immediately following are from the Gallery of Living Catholic Authors unless otherwise indicated.]


Dorothy Day (1897-80), writer and founding editor of The Catholic Worker. Typed letter signed to Sister Mary Joseph, dated July 24, 1935, with reference to her recent election to the Gallery of Living Catholic Authors: "...Much as I am complimented and overwhelmed by your invitation to join...I do really feel that I have no place there...I am a journalist and would prefer not to have people think of me as an author..."


Sister Miriam Gallagher, R.S.M. (1886- ?). "Until the Tardy Dawn..."/"Where Love is Fed." Autograph and typed manuscript signed. Dated November 19, 1833, with autograph note: "..A first draft, 8:30 a.m. This was not even thought of before 6:30 a.m. and was finished as above at 7:30 a.m. before putting pen to paper..."

...Her contributions to magazines both in prose and verse, have been many, and she has edited two volumes of analecta from the writings of Canon Sheehan. Perhaps the most ambitious and valuable of her prose papers are the uncritical essay on "Richard Le Gallienne: Painter of Shadows," and the biographical and bibliographical article, ‘Theodore Maynard, Divine Adventurer," contributed to the Catholic Literary World, February 1941, and later reissued in pamphlet form. Her verse was published in a volume entitled, Woven of the Sky, with a preface by Odell Shepard. It is full of delicately felt emotions all expressed with great simplicity and economy. It attracted the attention of many non-Catholic readers... [including]...John Hall Wheelock...[who]...called it "beautiful poetry from the heart of a true poet..." (Catholic Authors, Contemporary Biographical Sketches 1930-47, 1957).

Sister Miriam numbered among her friends H.L. Mencken, Odell Shepard, Robert P. Tristram Coffin, and Sir Granville Bantock who set five of her poems to music. She was elected to the Gallery of Living Catholic Authors in 1932.

Helen Iswolsky (1896-1975), writer, journalist, translator. Autograph signed letter to Sister Mary Joseph, dated December 15, [1942?], accepting her election to the Gallery of Living Catholic Authors.

Helen Iswolsky. "The House in Meudon." Typescript of a chapter from her book, Light Before Dusk, a Russian Catholic in France, 1923-1941 (New York & Toronto: Longmans, Green & Co., 1942).

Marie Belloc Lowndes (1868-1947), novelist and playwright. Elected to the Gallery of Living Catholic Authors in 1934.

...Mrs. Belloc Lowndes was proud of the fact that she and her brother, Hilaire Belloc, were the only descendants in Europe of Joseph Priestley, famous English chemist of the eighteenth century, who settled in Northumberland, Pa....Although Mrs. Belloc Lowndes first book was published after the death of Queen Victoria, there was much in her style and general background that savored of the Victorian era. She wrote with a quill pen, and it was sometimes said that she looked like Queen Victoria... (New York Times, November 15, 1947).

Marie Belloc Lowndes. Typed letter signed to Sister Mary Joseph, dated May 7, 1935 with reference to sending material to the Gallery of Living Catholic Authors.

Marie Belloc Lowndes. Typescript for "Reward Against the Innocent"/ "And Call It Accident."

Marie Belloc Lowndes. Photograph, signed, undated.

Julie and Thomas Kernan Papers

Clare Boothe Luce (1903-87), a highly successful playwright and editor of Vanity Fair in the early 1930s. She served two terms in Congress as a representative from Connecticut (1942-46), and was appointed U.S. ambassador to Italy in 1953. Elected to the Gallery of Living Catholic Authors in 1957.

Autograph letter signed to Sister Mary Joseph, dated March 18, 1947, declining an invitation to speak because of travel plans and pressure to finish a book.

Clare Boothe Luce. Autograph manuscript fragment of regarding an address about the U.S. Foreign Service. Undated.

Clare Boothe Luce. "Life, Liberty, Happiness - and Money." Typed manuscript signed, undated.

Fulton Oursler, Jr., Papers


Rev. Brian McGrath, S.J., Ambassador Luce, Rev. Edward Bunn, S.J.

Clare Boothe Luce. Address at Founder’s Day Convocation, Georgetown University, March 25, 1955. Transcript.

Georgetown University Archives

Raissa Maritain (1883-1960), poet and writer, wife of Jacques Maritain philosopher and French ambassador to the Vatican (1945). Elected to the Gallery of Living Catholic Authors in 1935.

Raissa Maritain. Autograph letter signed to Sister Mary Joseph, dated December 16, 1940 (in French), accepting the invitation to join the Gallery.

Raissa Maritain. "Pieta." Autograph manuscript signed, undated.

Maria Augusta Von Trapp (1905-87). Typed letter signed to Sister Mary Joseph, dated August 1, 1957, accepting her election to the Gallery of Living Catholic Authors.

Maria Von Trapp. Typed manuscript fragment from "Around the World with the Trapp Family," undated.


Other literary women’s collections of interest

These are not represented in the exhibition, however further information is available at our website.

- Theodore Maynard Papers, which include letters from his wife, writer Sarah Casey Maynard.

- Frederick and Maria Shrady Papers, which include letters by Anne Fremantle and Clare Boothe Luce.

- Christopher Sykes Papers, which include letters from his sister Angela, Countess of Antrim; and from Nancy Mitford.

- Teilhard de Chardin collections. - Collections pertaining to women who were close friends of and authors of books about the great philosopher/theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, include those of Marie-Therese Cosme, Mme. R.J. Houdin, Mary and Ellen Lukas, Francoise Raphael, and Lucile Swan. These collections consist of years of correspondence from Teilhard de Chardin writing about his work, travels, thoughts, and offering practical and spiritual advice. The Lukas collection includes research material for the book by Mary and Ellen Lukas, Teilhard, a Biography (1977). The Lucile Swan Papers consist of 23 years of the original correspondence from Teilhard de Chardin to Swan, now published in The Letters of Teilhard de Chardin to Lucile Swan, edited by Thomas King, S.J., and Mary Wood Gilbert (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 1993).

- Bernard and Barbara Wall Papers, which include letters by Kathleen Raine.

- Catherine Walston Papers, most notable for the three decades worth of love letters from famous British author Graham Greene.



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