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MacLeish, Archibald, 1892-1982



  • Existence: 1892 - 1982

Archibald MacLeish, poet, playwright, and government official, was born on May 7, 1892, in Glencoe, Illinois. He graduated from Yale in 1915, entered Harvard Law School, and married Ada Hitchcock in 1916. After the United States entered World War I, he enlisted as a private in the army, served in the artillery in France, and was discharged with the rank of captain. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 1919 and the next year joined the Boston law firm of Choate, Hall, and Stewart. In 1923 the MacLeish family moved to Paris, where they remained for five years. After returning to the United States, he travelled to Mexico to follow the route of Cortez's army in preparation for writing Conquistador.

During the 1930s MacLeish was an editor of Fortune magazine. He served as Librarian of Congress, 1939-44, Assistant Secretary of State for Public and Cultural Affairs, 1944-45, and Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Poetry at Harvard University, 1949-62. MacLeish's poetry and dramatic writings earned him Pulitizer Prizes in 1932, 1952, and 1959, the Bollingen Prize and the National Book Award for poetry in 1953, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977, and the National Medal for Literature in 1978. Archibald MacLeish died in Boston on April 20, 1982.

His major works of poetry include Tower of Ivory (1917), The Pot of Earth (1925), The Hamlet of A. MacLeish (1928), New Found Land (1930), Conquistador (1932), America Was Promises (1939), Collected Poems, 1917-1952 (1952), and Songs for Eve (1954). MacLeish also wrote several plays, some of the most important being Panic (1935), The Fall of the City (1937), Air Raid (1938), J.B. (1958), Herakles (1967), and Scratch (1971). Counted among his works of prose are A Time to Speak (1941), The American Story (1944), Poetry and Experience, (1960), and A Continuing Journey (1968).

Found in 4 Collections and/or Records:

Correspondence : to Barbara A. Cohen, 1952-[58?], n.d.

 Part of Collection — Box: 34, Folder: GROUP 551, F-2
Call Number: YCAL MSS MISC
Scope and Contents: Eleven TLS, two signed postcards, and one telegram to Barbara Cohen at Caedmon Publishers regarding audio recordings of MacLeish reading his work, his play "J.B.," and other subjects. Letters mention Robert Frost, Mark Van Doren, Jean Cocteau, Charles Laughton, and "Curt" Canfield.
Dates: 1952-[58?], n.d.

Letter : Elizabethan Club, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, to Julia Morrow, #4, Seventeenth Ave East, Duluth, Minnesota, [1913 Jun 7?]

 Part of Collection — Box: 34, Folder: GROUP 551, F-1
Call Number: YCAL MSS MISC
Scope and Contents: ALS announcing that his poem "Gifts" was accepted by the Yale Literary Magazine, mentioning that it is the first poem by a freshman accepted in many years; also asking if Morrow, as the poem's inspiration, is angry with him; mentioning football injuries; and declaring his refusal to be introduced to a girl in New Haven who is said to resemble Morrow. A poem, "The Leaves," is included on the final page. Accompanied by two untitled holograph poems: "We have held our galley anchored for a thousand...
Dates: [1913 Jun 7?]

Letters, 1941 February

 Part of Collection — Box: 34, Folder: GROUP 551, F-3
Call Number: YCAL MSS MISC
Scope and Contents: One TLS from MacLeish to Leonard Lyons, asking if he will "set the record straight" on an unspecified matter, and one typescript carbon from Lyons to MacLeish.
Dates: 1941 February

Letters : Conway, Mass. 01341, USA, to László Magyar, 24413 Palic, Kizur Ištvan 10/A, Yugoslavia, 1973, 1979

 Part of Collection — Box: 94, Folder: 8
Call Number: YCAL MSS MISC
Scope and Contents: Two autograph letters, signed, the first listing books by MacLeish published from 1925 to 1971 and the second discussing radio "as a stage" for poetry and verse plays and travel to Yugoslavia. With envelopes.
Dates: 1973, 1979