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Robert McAlmon papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 293

Scope and Contents

The Robert McAlmon Papers document portions of the life and work of Robert McAlmon and his decades-long connections with American and British members of the 1920s Paris expatriate community. The collection spans the years 1916-1956, but the bulk of the material is post-1930. The correspondence series includes substantive letters from many of the major literary figures of the period, including William Bird, Kay Boyle, T. S. Eliot, John Glassco, H. D., Hilaire Hiler, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Katherine Anne Porter, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, and William Carlos Williams, and from the musician George Antheil and the artist Marsden Hartley. The collection also contains typescripts of two of McAlmon's critically acclaimed publications, Distinguished Air and Village: Throughout Fifteen Years, and of several other works, including the never-completed Politics of Existence; and several folders of photographs.


  • 1916 - 1980
  • Majority of material found within 1930 - 1952


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Existence and Location of Copies

Microfilm available through Access Services.

Conditions Governing Use

The Robert McAlmon Papers is 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

The Robert McAlmon Papers are almost entirely the gift and bequest of Norman Holmes Pearson, 1969-1976, who purchased them from Robert McAlmon from 1949 on for eventual donation toYale.

Letters by Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, and William Carlos Williams were purchased by the Yale Collection of American Literature from Robert McAlmon beginning in 1949.

The manuscript of Paris, 14th of July is the gift of Richard Wayand, 1956.

The letters of Ernest Hemingway to Robert McAlmon are the gift of Donald Gallup in memory of Norman Holmes Pearson, 1976.


Organized into three series: I. Correspondence; II.Writings; III. Other Papers.


2.93 Linear Feet (8 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The Robert McAlmon Papers consist of letters to McAlmon from literary friends, including William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, and Gertrude Stein; manuscripts of several of his writings; and a small quantity of photographs and related papers.

Robert McAlmon, 1895-1956

Robert McAlmon, American author, was born in Kansas, one of ten children of an itinerant minister, and raised in several Midwestern states. After a brief stay in Chicago, where he met Emanuel Carnevali, he moved to New York in 1920 and quickly joined the literary circle active in Greenwich Village. With his friend William Carlos Williams, he founded Contact magazine; its four issues published work by Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, Marianne Moore, Glenway Wescott, and H. D.

It was through H. D. that McAlmon met and married her lover, the shipping heiress Annie Winifred Ellerman, who published under the name "Bryher." Their 1921 marriage inspired much gossip concerning McAlmon's own sexual preferences and Bryher's financial support of him: some referred to him as "Robert McAlimony." In the following year, McAlmon moved to Paris and founded the influential Contact Editions press. Its publications included Hemingway's first book, Three Stories and Ten Poems (1923), poetry collections by William Carlos Williams, Mina Loy, and Marsden Hartley, and the first complete edition of Gertrude Stein's The Making of Americans (1925). He also provided James Joyce with financial support and assisted in the revision and typing of the Penelope section of Ulysses.

McAlmon's own published works from this period include the critically praised short story collections The Hasty Bunch (1922) and Distinguished Air (1925); the experimental "plotless novel" Village (1924); and a collection of poetry, Portrait of a Generation (1926). The McAlmons divorced in 1925, and McAlmon left Paris in 1929, after closing Contact Editions. Throughout the next fifteen years, he traveled widely in the United States, Mexico and Europe, drinking heavily and publishing little. Not Alone Lost, a volume of poetry, was published by New Directions in 1937 and became its worst-selling title. His bitter memoir of Paris in the Twenties, Being Geniuses Together, appeared in Great Britain to little notice in 1938.

McAlmon returned to the United States following the occupation of France in 1940. In ill-health and out of money, he settled in Arizona, where he worked as a salesman in his brothers' surgical supply company. His tuberculosis worsened in 1951, and his sisters bought him a small house in Hot Springs, California, where he died on February 2, 1956.

Processing Information

Former call number: ZA McAlmon

Guide to the Robert McAlmon Papers
by Diane J. Ducharme
November 2008
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
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New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours

Access Information

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