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Glenway Wescott papers

 Collection
Call Number: YCAL MSS 134

Scope and Contents

The Glenway Wescott Papers consist of correspondence, journals, notebooks, manuscripts, personal and financial papers, research files, photographs, graphic items, clippings, objects, and audiotapes. The material documents Wescott's life, work, and personal relationships with many noted artists, writers, and performers of the 20th century including his long-time companion, Monroe Wheeler, many of whose papers are included here (see processing notes, above). The collection spans the years 1900-1990.

The Papers are housed in 485 boxes and are arranged in 13 series: Correspondence, Journals and Notebooks, Writings, Personal Papers, Financial Papers, Research Files, Photographs, Graphic Items, Clippings, American Academy of Arts and Letters, Objects, Audio-Visual Materials and Additions Transferred from the Monroe Wheeler Papers. Oversize materials are stored in boxes 472-484.

Series I, Correspondence , consists of six subseries: Wescott-Wheeler Correspondence; Wescott Family Correspondence; Wescott Family Third-party Correspondence; Wheeler Family Correspondence; General Correspondence; and Third-party Correspondence. (See description of Series II, Journals, for information about other correspondence.) The first sub-series contains letters between Glenway Wescott and Monroe Wheeler, spanning their entire relationship, from 1919, shortly after they met, to 1986, just before Wescott died. The interfiled letters document much of the private and public lives of these two men. Many of the early letters are accompanied by folded paper enclosures bearing annotation, evidence of Wescott's work to catalog his own archives. The next three subseries contain letters among members of both the Wescott and the Wheeler families. Almost every type of permutation is filed here: Wescott to and from his sisters, Wheeler to and from his own siblings, extensive early runs of letters from Wescott to his parents, as well as nearly daily correspondence between Wheeler and his father, and letters between Wescott, Wheeler and Barbara Harrison Wescott, before and after she became a member of the immediate family through her marriage to Glenway's brother, Lloyd.

The General Correspondence subseries makes up much of the rest of this series. Found here are letters, incoming as well as copies of outgoing, to persons and entities who played roles in the lives of Wescott and Wheeler. The categories and names cover the gamut of 20th century culture, including:

Authors and literary friends: Louise Bogan, Elizabeth Bowen, Kay Boyle, Van Wyck Brooks, Anthony Butts, Mary Butts, Eleanor Clark, R. B. Cunninghame-Graham, Babette Deutsch, Leon Edel, Helen Parker Evans, Bernard Faÿ, Janet Flanner, Charles Henri Ford, Ford Madox Ford, Robert Gathorne-Hardy, August Heckscher, Richard Howard, William Inge, Christopher Isherwood, Charles Jackson, Lincoln Kirstein, Anita Loos, James Lord, W. Somerset Maugham, William Maxwell, Harriet Monroe, Caroline Newton, Robert Phelps, William Plomer, Frederic Prokosch, Frances C. L. Robbins, Elizabeth Madox Roberts, Jerry Rosco, Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant, Edith Sitwell, Osbert Sitwell, Parker Tyler, Thornton Wilder, Donald Windham, Janet Lewis Winters, and Yvor Winters

Artists: Mauricio Aguilar, Don Bachardy, Cecil Beaton, Isabel Bishop, Paul Cadmus, Alexander Calder, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Jean Cocteau, Joseph Cornell, Jared French, Dudley Huppler, Arthur Lee, Loren MacIver, Maria Rosa Oliver, Alfonso Ossorio, Alejandro Otero, Bernard Perlin, François Reichenbach, Ben Shahn, Lenore Tawney, Pavel Tchelitchew, George Tooker, Jan Van Krimpen, and Ignatz Wiemeler

Critics and Wheeler's colleagues from the museum world: Alfred H., Jr. Barr, Kenneth Clark, Réné d'Harnoncourt, Robert M. Frash, Philip Johnson, E. McKnight Kauffer, Russell Lynes, Henry McBride, Nelson Rockefeller, and James Thrall Soby.

Musicians: Samuel Barber, Marc Blitzstein, David Diamond, Elly Ney, Ned Rorem, and Virgil Thomson.

Long-time friends: Newton Arvin, Brooke Astor, Jean-Pierre Brasseur, Joseph Campbell, Henri de la Celle, William H. Chandlee, R. L. Cottenet, Eva Goldbeck, William Goyen, Eardley Knollys, Henry McIlhenny, Raymond Mortimer, Marguerite Namara, Agnes Rindge Claflin, Pauline and Philippe de Rothschild, Desmond Shawe-Taylor, Bernardine Szold-Fritz, Diana Vreeland, and Edgar Wind.

Lovers and companions: Mario Amaya, Ivan Ashby, Earl Butler, Jacques Guérin, Nelson Lansdale, David Leavitt, Christian William Miller, N. Mark Pagano, Anatole Pohorilenko, and Ralph Pomeroy.

Publishers and agents: Cass Canfield, Harper & Row, and Alfred A. Knopf.

Among these various figures, however, the most significant correspondences concern friends who had a life-long impact on Wescott and Wheeler. Foremost was the photographer, George Platt Lynes, who lived with Wescott and Wheeler in a true ménage à trois in the 1930s and 1940s. The letters among the three men detail emotional as well as day-to-day concerns. Wescott wrote expressively about his life in France in the late 1920s and Lynes responded with details of his constantly changing outlook as he sought his metier. Letters between Wheeler and Lynes reveal the depth of their relationship, and despite a break in the mid-1940s (involving all three men), the correspondence continues up until Lynes's death in December 1955. (In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Lynes often sent photograph proofs as postcards.)

Wescott and Wheeler's relationships with two of the most influential women writers of the 20th century are also documented in extensive runs of correspondence. Katherine Anne Porter's letters, principally to Glenway, are matched by copies of his own letters. As well, Wescott and Wheeler preserved their own side of their communication with Marianne Moore, Wescott's one-time mentor. In this case, however, the majority of Moore's letters are represented by transcripts made by Wescott.

Another epistolary relationship of note is that between Wescott and Alfred Kinsey, the pioneering sex behavior researcher. Wescott became acquainted with Kinsey in the late 1940s, volunteered to be interviewed for a case history, and continued to provide Kinsey with connections for further histories, especially homosexual friends.

In many cases, copies of outgoing letters by Wescott or Wheeler have been interfiled with incoming letters, as indicated in the finding aid. In cases of voluminous correspondence, however, incoming and outgoing letters have been filed separately and are noted as such in the finding aid.

Third-party Correspondence contains a number of letters between friends of Wescott and Wheeler, including several letters to and from George Platt Lynes, copies of letters from Marianne Moore, letters by Katherine Anne Porter, Bernardine Szold-Fritz, Pavel Tchelitchew, and Lloyd Wescott.

Series II contains Wescott's Journals and Notebooks , an extensive collection of personal records detailing the author's life and thoughts from the late 1930s up to shortly before his death. Wescott's "journals" are not journals in the classic sense of codices filled with diary-like entries. Rather, while the journals were created chronologically, their physical format generally is three-ring binders filled with all types of aide-memoires: notes, incoming letters, drafts and copies of outgoing letters, clippings, and images. It must also be noted that during the preparation of selections from Wescott's journals (eventually published as Continual Lessons in 1990), Wescott and various assistants disassembled many of the journals, made photocopies, and rearranged items, such that many pages were not filed back in their original locations. Consequently, there are a number of folders of "loose pages" which have been sorted down to years and decades; some journals exist purely as photocopied facsimiles of material either disbursed or filed as "loose". Letters found in the journals have not been cross-indexed with Series I. Researchers are urged to consider looking into journals for specific date ranges in order to discover any correspondence not filed or listed in Series I.

The notebooks in Series II are more closely related to Wescott's creative writings, though they do contain a mixture of fictional sketches and notes on current events.

Series III, Writings , is divided into five subseries: General Writings; Writings about People; Lectures, Broadcasts and Speeches; Writings about Glenway Wescott; and Writings of Others. They represent only a portion of Wescott's original works. In descriptions of physical formats of manuscripts, the term "copied" is used to distinguish later copies from original manuscripts. (These copies were made most likely by Wescott and Robert Phelps in the 1960s and 1970s in preparation of a volume of collected works.)

General Writings contains drafts of many works not published in Wescott's lifetime, such as: Children of this World; The Dream of Mrs. Cleveland; A Fortune in Jewels; The Little Ocean Liner; The Stallions; A Windfall (a compilation of short works); and A Year of Love. Although the bulk of manuscripts for Wescott's published works are can be found in the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library, General Writings also contains related items, such as: an outline of Apartment in Athens, proofs for a 1977 reissue of A Calendar of Saints for Unbelievers; draft pages of Images of Truth; and fan letters about The Pilgrim Hawk.

The most extensive material in this subseries is Wescott's series of autobiographical sketches, grouped under the title "The Odor of Rosemary". This work is divided into notebooks and pages for the general work, followed by distinct sections, many of which were published under separate titles. The drafts here illustrate the nature of much of the material in the Writings series. Wescott often used notebooks to contain various notes and background information, eventually filling them with draft holograph pages, which he tended to correct as he wrote, creating a shifting stream of narrative.

For purposes of clarity, Wescott's Writings about People have been put into their own subseries. Wescott wrote repeatedly about the same individuals (many of his friends, in fact), reusing notes and draft sections For example, several different works on Somerset Maugham have been filed together, since they were all born from a group of related notes. Besides extensive drafts for a biography of Maugham, other subjects of Wescott's recurring focus include: Colette; F. Scott Fitzgerald; E. M. Forster; Ernest Hemingway; George Platt Lynes; Marianne Moore; Katherine Anne Porter; Edith Sitwell; Pavel Tchelitchew; and Thornton Wilder.

Lectures, Broadcasts and Speeches are divided into: Academic Presentations (which includes "The Monday Class", given at the home of Josephine Crane); Art Subjects; "Invitation to Learning" (a radio program of which Wescott was a frequent guest during the 1940s), "The Open Mind" (television program); Social presentations (many to women's civic groups); Success magazine (another radio program); and War Bond Rallies.

A section of Writings about Glenway Wescott includes profiles and criticism of the writer. Among Writings of Others is a collection of poems by Mary Butts, a typescript of a play, "Paul et Virginie" by Jean Cocteau and Raymond Radiguet, a biography of Pauline de Rothschild by G. Y. Dryansky, a long narrative by Pauline de Rothschild, "The Irrational Journey", and a draft of "The Early Tchelitchew" by Allen Tanner.

Series IV, Personal Papers , contains a range of material documenting the lives of Wescott and Wheeler. Among the 18 subseries are: interview transcripts, notebooks (for such things as household expenses, as distinct from literary notebooks in Series II.), notecards, documentation of various projects, scrapbooks created by Wescott, materials pertaining to symposia in which Wescott participated, and papers related to the Wescott family. Smaller groups of materials are classified under "General Items". These include: address books; appointment books (for almost every year between 1929-1985); death and estate materials for Wescott; health documents; juvenilia from Waukesha High School; and wills,

Series V, Financial Papers , gathers together material in a chronological run, from 1925 through 1986. The material has been subdivided into the following categories: royalties; cancelled checks; and tax documents. A small group of material from Glenway's mother, Josephine Wescott, is also in this series.

Series VI, Research Files contains Wescott's own working files on various subjects, most of them people, such as T. S. Eliot, Ford Madox Ford, Richard Hughes, Marianne Moore, and Pavel Tchelitchew.

Series VII, Photographs , is organized into ten subseries. The first two focus on individual images of Glenway Wescott and Monroe Wheeler: photographic portraits; photographs of artists' portraits; Wescott & Wheeler with other people, and candids. The third subseries includes images of Wescott & Wheeler together. Photographs of Other People make up the next subseries, which includes such notables as: Mary Butts; Jean Cocteau; Ford Madox Ford; Jean Genet; Christopher Isherwood; George Platt Lynes; Somerset Maugham; Marianne Moore; Katherine Anne Porter; Edith Sitwell; and Pavel Tchelitchew. The following group, Photographs in Series, contains serial images (entire rolls of film taken at one time), documenting social events and gatherings, as well as Wescott and Wheeler's travel in the United States and to foreign countries. These images have been kept together to preserve their contextual value. Art Photography houses works by artistic photographers and includes over 70 images by George Platt Lynes. (Other images by Lynes can be found in Box 69, in the form of proofs sent as postcards to Monroe Wheeler.) These are followed by Photographs of Artists' Works and several Albums, for which the contents have been listed. The subseries documenting activities of the Museum of Modern Art covers exhibition openings, meetings of the International Council, Monroe Wheeler's travels, and visitors to MOMA. The series ends with several miscellaneous subjects such as Buildings and Interiors.

The many original negatives received with this archive have been stored apart from the papers. Separation sheets have been placed in folders indicating the number of negatives, the number of existing prints.

Series VIII, Graphic Items , consists of various non-photographic image materials. Among the artwork originals are an etching by Andre Denoyer de Segonzac, and a lithograph by Henri Matisse.

Series IX, Clippings , covers a wide range of subjects, with a focus on art, book reviews, current events, essays and articles, and people. Coverage of activities of Wescott, Wheeler, and the Wescott family is included here.

The materials in Series X, American Academy of Arts and Letters , concern Glenway Wescott's membership in this organization, including the years of his presidency, 1959-62. This section includes Wescott's office files, as well as a number of related pieces such as manuscripts written by Wescott for various presentations and events, correspondence, and printed items.

Series XI, Objects , consists of pieces of memorabilia received with the archive. Included are personal effects such as cufflinks, eyeglasses, Wescott's New York Public Library medal, and such curiosities as the jawbone of a rat "out of the sea: Fire Island".

Series XII, Audio-Visual Materials , consists of sound recordings and a single videotape. The audiotape recordings were made during the 1970s and 1980s and feature principally Glenway Wescott either being interviewed by journalists and friends, or talking by himself about his memories. A few of these tapes have transcripts which are stored in Series IV, Personal Papers. Several tapes from the late 1980s feature Monroe Wheeler recounting tales of his own life. Among the audiodiscs are a radio interview done by Wescott in 1956, what appears to be a recording of Wheeler ca. 1958, and a section of "The Grandmothers" read as a book for the blind. The videotape is labeled: "Monroe Wheeler and MOMA, 1986 May 10".

Series XIII, Additions transferred from the Monroe Wheeler Papers , contains items relating to Wescott which came to light during the processing of the Monroe Wheeler Papers and which could not be easily integrated into the existing archival arrangement.

Oversize contains materials from Series II, III, IV, VII, VII, and IX.

Dates

  • 1900 - 1990

Creator

Language

English

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Restricted Fragile material in box 485 may only be consulted with permission of the appropriate curator. Preservation photocopies, photographic prints, or digital surrogates for reference use have been substituted in the main files.

Conditions Governing Use

The Glenway Wescott Papers are the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase from Monroe Wheeler, 1988, with later purchase and gift from Anatole Pohorilenko, 1998 and 2003. Donation from Bruch Hotchkiss, 2004.

Associated Materials

Monroe Wheeler Papers, YCAL MSS 136

Glenway Wescott Papers, Berg Collection, New York Public Library.

Extent

216 Linear Feet ((490 boxes) + art storage)

Catalog Record

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

Overview

The Glenway Wescott Papers consist of correspondence, journals, notebooks, manuscripts, personal and financial papers, research files,photographs, graphic items, clippings, objects, and audiotapes. The material documents Wescott's life, work, and personal relationships with many noted artists, writers, and performers of the 20th century including his long-time companion, Monroe Wheeler, many of whose papers are included here.
Series I, Correspondence, consists of six subseries: Wescott-Wheeler Correspondence (letters between the two men); Wescott Family Correspondence; Wescott Family Third-party Correspondence; Wheeler Family Correspondence; General Correspondence; and Third-party Correspondence.
Series II contains Wescott's Journals and Notebooks, an extensive collection of personal records detailing the author's life and thoughts from the late 1930s up to shortly before his death. Wescott's "journals" are in the form of three-ring binders, filled with notes, clippings, copies of letters, and images.
Series III, Writings, represents a portion of Wescott's original works. The writings are divided into five subseries: General Writings (including drafts of an autobiography, "The Odor of Rosemary"); Writings about People; Lectures, Broadcasts and Speeches; Writings about Glenway Wescott; and Writings of Others.
Personal Papers contains a range of material documenting the various activities of Wescott and Wheeler arranged in 18 subseries. Financial Papers, gathers together material in a chronological run, from 1925 through 1986. Series VI contains Wescott's own Research Files of various subjects. Photographs are grouped into ten subseries. Graphic Items consists of various image materials. Clippings covers a wide range of subjects, with a focus on art, book reviews, current events, essays and articles, and people. Series X, American Academy of Arts and Letters, concerns Glenway Wescott's membership in this organization, including the years of his presidency, 1960-62. Objects consists of pieces of realia received with the archive. Audio-Visual Materials is a collection of sound recordings and a videotape.
Series XIII, Additions transferred from the Monroe Wheeler Papers, contains items relating to GW which came to light during the processing of the Monroe Wheeler Papers and which could not be easily integrated into the existing archival arrangement.

GLENWAY WESCOTT (1901-1987)

Glenway Wescott was born on April 11th, 1901 near Kewaskum, Wisconsin, to a farming family. His early education in public schools led to his matriculation at the University of Chicago in 1917. He studied there until early in 1919, when he left, as he writes in an autobiographical sketch (box 358, folder 3500) due to "ill health and melancholia". While recuperating, he made the acquaintance of a Chicago native, Monroe Wheeler. Their relationship began shortly after and the two stayed together as a couple until Wescott's death in 1987.

After recovering his health sufficiently, Wescott moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he stayed for several months in the company of another Chicagoan, Arthur Yvor Winters. In Santa Fe, Wescott produced a group of poems which were published by Monroe Wheeler in 1920 under the title The Bitterns. Wescott and Wheeler traveled to Europe together in late 1921. In 1923, Wescott traveled across Europe as factotum for the Henry Goldman family. Upon returning to Monroe Wheeler, now in New York City, Wescott finished his first novel, The Apple of the Eye, published in 1924.

Wescott and Wheeler moved to Villefranche, in the South of France, in 1926. They quickly made their way into artistic and literary circles, numbering among their friends Jean Cocteau, Ford Madox Ford, Elly Ney, and Isadora Duncan. Wescott's second work of fiction, The Grandmothers, a series of portraits drawn from his early memories, was published in 1927. This novel won the Harper Prize for that year and garnered Wescott a certain measure of reknown. A collection of short stories, Good-bye Wisconsin was issued the following year.

The two men stayed in France through the early 1930s. Wescott continued to write short pieces of fiction, as well as essays, several of which appeared in 1932 as Fear and Trembling. Meanwhile, Wheeler published books under the Harrison of Paris imprint, which he established in 1930 in partnership with Barbara Harrison. After Harrison married Wescott's younger brother, Lloyd, in 1935, Wescott and Wheeler decided to move back to the United States, setting up households both on the farm in New Jersey bought by Barbara Harrison and Lloyd Wescott and in New York City, where they shared a series of apartments with George Platt Lynes.

Lynes, best known as a figural and fashion photographer, came into their world in 1926. Over time, Wescott and Wheeler's relationship expanded to include Lynes as a full-fledged partner. The establishment of a domicile in New York for all three to live together made for a true ménage à trois. (Lynes died in New York City in December, 1955.)

After the dissolution of Harrison of Paris in 1935, Wheeler began free-lance work for the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City, which hired him in 1938 to be Membership Director, then, later, Director of Publications and Exhibitions. Wescott continued to write, publishing The Pilgrim Hawk in 1940 and Apartment in Athens in 1945. Though he did not produce another full-length book until Images of Truth in 1962, Wescott lectured, wrote reviews and criticism, served as a member and president of the National Institute and American Academy of Arts and Letters, and worked on a number of novels. A great deal of creative energy went into another quasi-literary project, his "journals", which he began in earnest in 1938 to document his life and thoughts.

Though much of Wescott's later life was devoted to editing his journals for publication, this project only reached fruition after his death, with the appearance in 1990 of Continual Lessons, a single volume of excerpts. Wescott, who had lived most of his later years in New Jersey, on a second farm owned by his brother and sister-in-law, died on February 22, 1987.

Existence and Location of Copies

Some items in Series XII. Audio-Visual Materials have been digitized for access and preservation. Items which have been digitally reformatted are noted individually in the box and folder list.

Processing Information

The Glenway Wescott Papers contain materials from the Monroe Wheeler Papers - and vice-versa. Wescott and Wheeler lived together or shared residences for over six decades. Their professional and personal papers were understandably mixed when they were transferred to the Beinecke Library in 1988 (with further additions in 1998). During the processing of the papers, efforts were made to segregate papers reflecting Wescott's writing and activities from those documenting Wheeler's personal and professional life. All personal correspondence for both men was grouped in one series and classed with Glenway Wescott's papers. (However, Wheeler's professional correspondence from MOMA, as well as a smaller group of vestigial letters found among his personal effects, are classed in the Monroe Wheeler Papers.) Another group of overlapping material placed mainly in the Glenway Wescott Papers is photographs in Series VII. Audio Recordings of Monroe Wheeler are stored with the Wescott Papers in Series XII. For other materials, the reader should find parallel groups in both the Glenway Wescott Papers and the Monroe Wheeler Papers (such as Financial Papers, and Clippings.) CAVEAT: Readers are advised, when looking for correspondence or names of persons, to look in both the Glenway Wescott Papers and the Monroe Wheeler Papers. Significant materials relating to other persons and entities were also received with the papers. These have been cataloged separately: Harrison of Paris Records, Nelson Lansdale, George Platt Lynes, Marianne Moore, Ralph Pomeroy, Frances C. Lamont Robbins, and Katherine Anne Porter
Title
Guide to the Glenway Wescott Papers
Author
by Timothy G. Young
Date
September 2000
Language of description
Finding aid written in English

Revision Statements

  • 2010-02-10: Transformed with yale.addEadidUrl.xsl. Adds @url with handle for finding aid. Overwrites @url if already present.
  • 2007-08-13: beinecke.wescott.xml converted for compliance with Yale EAD Best Practice Guidelines with brbl-migrate-01.xsl (mr2007-08-13).
  • 2007-03-08: PUBLIC "-//Yale University::Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library//TEXT (US::CtYBR::::[GLENWAY WESCOTT PAPERS ])//EN" "wescott.xml" converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).

Repository Details

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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