Skip to main content

Chimera papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 35

Scope and Contents

The Chimera papers document the publishing activities of a New York based "little magazine" between its inception in 1942 and its cessation in 1947. The papers span the years between 1943 and 195l, with the bulk covering the years of Barbara Howes's editorship, 1943-1947.

Housed in eight boxes, the collection is divided into three series: I. Correspondence; II. Business Papers; and III.Manuscript Submissions

Series I, Correspondence , is arranged alphabetically by author in Boxes 1-2. The correspondence covers the years 1943-1947 and includes notes and letters from notable authors and critics such as Jacques Barzun, R. P. Blackmur, Malcolm Cowley, Lawrence Durrell, Richard Eberhart, Wallace Fowlie, Randall Jarrell, Thomas Mann, Henry Miller, Marianne Moore, George Orwell, Henri Peyre, Dorothy Sayers, Wallace Stevens, Allen Tate, and Lionel Trilling. The letters are generally short and often discuss routine business matters such as subscriptions or manuscripts submitted to Chimera; many offer advice or praise.

More substantive letters are scattered throughout the collection. C. G. Wallis writes a lengthy letter-essay on June 15, 1943 on Philip Wheelwright and Kenneth Burke's positions on metaphysics and "knowing" in science and theology; in a letter of July 4, 1945 Louise Bogan discusses the esoteric in literature; and Henry Miller makes a plea for financial help for author-traveler George Dibbern. A letter from Edwin Seldon (Box 2, folder 75) discusses the poetry of Éluard; Francis Fergusson discusses the works of Paul Claudel; Enrique de Ezcurra (Box 1, folder 17) comments (in Spanish) on current Spanish literature; and Raymond Cook (Box 1, folder 13) comments on directions in recent Southern literature. Maria Jolas's letters refer to problems in translating Sartre.

First-hand accounts of conditions in post-war Europe can be found in letters from Elmer Diktonius (Box 1, folder 18), Allanah Harper, Lawrence Durrell, and Olivia Manning. Analyses of various characteristics and themes of detective fiction may be found in the letters of Alan Harrington (Box 1, folder 31), G. Robert Stange, Philip Van Doren Stern, and Hugh Wheeler ("Quentin Patrick") (Box 2, folder 96). Many letters comment on Chimera, but see especially those of Sherman Conrad (Box 1, folder 13), James Boyer May, John Nerber, Hardiman Scott (Box 2, folder 75), and John Stewart. Several letters by G. W. Van Vechten of Van Vechten Press discuss publication layouts, and letters to and from Chimera editors William Arrowsmith, David Newton, Fearon J. Brown, Frederick Morgan, and Ximena de Angulo reveal much about the editorial practices and problems of the journal.

Series II, Business Papers , is chronologically arranged in Boxes 3-6 and covers such areas as advertising and promotions, editorial papers, finances, invoices, printed material, and subscription papers.

Advertising and Promotions contain promotional correspondence with bookstores, libraries, newspapers, etc.; samples of promotional material from Chimera and other literary journals; and letters and order forms concerning advertising in Chimera and Chimera's advertising in other journals. Editorial Papers include editor's plans for contents and layouts of individual issues, a copy of Chimera's editorial policy by Barbara Howes (June, 1945), information on the significance of the journal's title and references to chimeras in literature, three newspaper articles on detective fiction, and a list of proof symbols used by Chimera editors.

Finances contain financial statements for Chimera, copies of printing bills, letters relating to financing, and a receipt book listing payments to contributors, 1946-1948. Invoices hold copies of invoices sent by Chimera to subscribers and consignees between 1943 and 1951. Printed Material contains copies of newspaper and magazine articles making reference to Chimera and "little magazines" in general, along with a brief biographical sketch of Barbara Howes. Subscription Papers cover the years 1942-1951 and contain lists of current and potential subscribers, purchase orders, and bills for subscriptions.

Series III, Manuscript Submissions (Boxes 7-8), contains typed copies of most of the poems, articles, stories, and reviews appearing in Chimera between Autumn, 1943 and Summer, 1947, most of them with corrections and suggested changes, presumably by Barbara Howes. Included also are some final page proofs for accepted contributions. The series concludes with two folders of manuscripts intended for future publication. Among the submissions in this series are poems by John Berryman, Babette Deutsch, Richard Eberhart, Pablo Neruda, Kenneth Patchen, and Peter Viereck; articles by Jacques Barzun, Louise Bogan, Hermann Broch, Kenneth Burke, Wallace Fowlie, C. G. Jung, Mario Praz, Paul Rosenfeld, Jean Wahl, and Marguerite Yourcenar; and stories by Alex Comfort and Philip Van Doren Stern. Brief biographical sketches are included for most of the authors. There is also some correspondence between editor and contributors relating to manuscript changes.


  • 1943 - 1959


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Chimera 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

Barbara Howes presented Chimera material to Beinecke Library in 1960.


3 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 Chimera Papers consist of manuscripts, correspondence, and business papers relating to the publishing history of Chimera: A Literary Journal (1942-1947), with manuscripts of writings by Barbara Howes, editor of Chimera from 1943 to 1947.


Chimera, a "little magazine," was begun in 1942 as a campus publication by several Princeton students, chief among them William Arrowsmith, J. Fearon Brown, and Benjamin Ford, who served as the first editors. After the first issue appeared in Spring, 1942, Frederick Morgan replaced Ford. David Newton, Barbara Howes, and Ximena de Angulo eventually replaced these three, who entered military service. Originally titled Chimera: A Rough Beast (the phrase taken from Yeats), the name was officially changed to Chimera: A Literary Quarterly beginning with the Autumn 1944 issue. With its editorial offices moved to New York City after the first issue, the journal survived until 1947, producing a total of twenty quarterly issues averaging fifty pages each.

In the first issue, the editors claimed that the journal's purpose was "to try to provide a medium for serious writers, with emphasis on the younger ones." A later editorial policy by editor Barbara Howes identified four basic platforms: (1) "to provide an opening for young or unpublished writers, interested in both creative and critical work"; (2) "to encourage writers from other parts of the country"; (3) to "provide American readers with a wider acquaintance with the literary scene in other countries"; and (4) "to print non-technical contributions from philosophy, psychology, and comparative religions, as well as the other arts." In 1945 Howes stated that "the emphasis now is less on presenting younger writers, and more on presenting significant material on a wide cultural basis. . . ."

From the beginning, the journal was interested in covering a broad spectrum of the humanities: literature, art, philosophy, and psychology. The early issues leaned heavily toward poetry and book reviews; later issues included more fiction and longer critical articles. Two special issues were devoted to myth and to detective fiction.

In its five-year life, Chimera published poetry by John Berryman, Babette Deutsch, Lawrence Durrell, Richard Eberhart, Randall Jarrell, Robert Lowell, Pablo Neruda, Kenneth Patchen, Allen Tate, and others; and articles by W.H. Auden, R.P. Blackmur, Carl Jung, Thomas Mann, Henry Miller, Henri Peyre, Mario Praz, Marguerite Yourcenar, and others. The journal also published previously untranslated works by Rimbaud, Sartre, Corbière, and Moravia.

Chimera was widely praised for its pleasing design and typography (by Van Vechten Press of Metuchen, New Jersey). Malcolm Cowley in The New Republic called it "the handsomest of all the little magazines; it is the only one that tries to rival the fine French reviews." In a 1944 Saturday Review article, William Rose Benét applauded Chimera for its articles on significant European authors who were little known in the U.S., and Lawrence Durrell called the journal "the best of the American literary papers."

Primarily because of financial difficulties the journal ceased publication after the Summer, l947 issue.

Guide to the Chimera Papers
Under Revision
by William K. Finley
December 1988
Description rules
Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
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.