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Norman Holmes Pearson Collection of “Art for the Wrong Reason”

Call Number: YCAL MSS 1031

Scope and Contents

The collection contains sixty-three sketches, drawings, paintings, and prints acquired by Yale faculty member Norman Holmes Pearson not for their aesthetic or artistic merit, but because they were created by poets and other authors; he titled his collection “Art for the Wrong Reason.” The works were executed in crayon, gouache, graphite, ink, charcoal, oil, and watercolor on paper, board, canvas, and panel, by fifty-three writers including E. E. Cummings, George Du Maurier, Victor Hugo, D. H. Lawrence, and Katherine Anne Porter, with multiple works by John Dos Passos, H. D., Herman Hesse, Denise Levertov, Wyndham Lewis, John Masefield, Henry Miller, and William Makepeace Thackeray. Among the drawings are portraits, self-portraits, or caricatures of G. K. Chesterton, Hugh Hefner, Henry Miller, J. M. Mitchison, Norman Holmes Pearson, Bernard Shaw, and Osbert Sitwell.


  • 1833 - 1979


Language of Materials

Captions in English, French, and German.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Chiefly bequest of Norman Holmes Pearson (Yale 1932, 1941 PhD), 1975. Other additions noted at folder level.


Arranged alphabetically by author.

Related Materials

Norman Holmes Pearson Papers (YCAL MSS 899), Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.


63 Items ((6 boxes) + 14 Art)

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

Norman Holmes Pearson (1909-1975)

Norman Holmes Pearson (Yale 1932, 1941 PhD), professor of English and American Studies at Yale University and officer in the United States Office of Strategic Services during World War II. Pearson collaborated with Yale University Library curator Donald Gallup to develop the Yale Collection of American Literature, playing an instrumental role in the library's acquisition of the papers of H. D. and Bryher.

Processing Information

Collections are processed to a variety of levels, depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived research value, the availability of staff, competing priorities, and whether or not further accruals are expected. The library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.

Guide to the Norman Holmes Pearson Collection of “Art for the Wrong Reason”
by Beinecke Staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
(203) 432-2977


121 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours

Access Information

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.