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Fantasy Magazine papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 55

Scope and Contents

The Fantasy Magazine Papers document the life of a "little magazine" dedicated principally to "free verse" poetry. The papers consist of correspondence, manuscript submissions, photographs, clippings, printed works, and financial and legal documents. The papers span the years 1929 to 1979, with the bulk of material falling within the years of the magazine's publication, 1932-43.

The collection is housed in 10 boxes and consists of three series: I. Correspondence; II. Manuscript Submissions; and III. Other Papers. Box 9 contains oversize material from Series III. Box 10 contains restricted fragile papers.

Series I, Correspondence (Boxes 1-4) covers the years 1931-79 and documents the interaction between Fantasy's editor, Stanley Dehler Mayer, and contributing writers, subscribers, editors of other little magazines, and publishing houses. The bulk of the correspondence consists of letters from writers hoping to be published in the magazine. A significant number of the remaining letters are from persons concerned with the survival of the magazine, either subscribers, fellow publishers, or literary aficionados.

The majority of letters from writers submitting their work are brief, direct queries which occasionally include personal information about the writer. Kenneth Patchen's letters discuss his submissions and inquire about the status of Mayer's induction into the army. Harvey Breit, a friend of Patchen's, mentions the poet in his own letters. Harry Roskolenko's correspondence discusses versions of his work submitted to Mayer and suggests friends who would be likely to submit work or subscribe to Fantasy. Other correspondents include: Carl Burkland, writing about his love of Keats and Whitman; Herman Salinger, who translated poems by Rilke and Christian Morgenstern for Fantasy; Joseph Joel Keith, writing from Hollywood about his achievements and those of associates Kathleen Sutton, Don Blanding, and Irl Morse; Regis Kausler, who suggests that Fantasy become formally associated with the [Walt] Whitman Society of America; and LeGarde S. Doughty, who forwarded a copy of a letter he sent to William Carlos Williams refuting observations Williams made in "To Write American Poetry," an essay published in Fantasy. The letters of Pauline Frances Stephens and Eleanor Tawnley contain digressions on subjects other than poetry, particularly Stephens's discussion of the vanity of poets and Tawnley's description of a flood in Cincinnati.

A second subject of correspondence concerns publication of the magazine. Letters can be found from Charles Henri Ford, publisher of View, from Ada McCormick, publisher of Letter, and from Bennett Cerf, who replied to Mayer that a novel about a jazz band would be "virtually negligible" in 1940. Mayer's work in introducing Latin American writers to North American readers can be traced in letters from the Pan American Union, the Coordinator for Inter-American Affairs, and the Committee on Cultural Relations with Latin America, all correspondents who directed Mayer to worthy poets and writers. Lloyd Mallan, who corresponded independently in addition to his service with the Committee on Cultural Relations with Latin America, suggests that Mayer could increase his rapport with his growing Latin American clientele if he improved his language skills. A professional correspondent who seems to have had more personal connections to Mayer and his wife, Portia, is Grace K. Wellington. Her letters concerning her publication, Troubadour, branch out into more diverse topics. A 1935 letter discusses her opinions of other little magazines, most specifically the implications of getting published in the Communist-inspired New Masses. The letter then goes on to provide gardening tips.

Series II, Manuscript Submissions (Boxes 5-7), consists of works sent to Stanley Mayer to be considered for inclusion in Fantasy. The series contains poetry, essays, reviews, and short stories, most of which are undated. The poetry ranges from the evenly measured stanzas of Stanton Coblentz to the meandering constructions of Clark Mills. Alex Comfort writes about war and the passage of time, while Waring Cuney made terse transcriptions of black dialects. Included here are Kenneth Patchen's multipart "Seven Poems About the Way to Go Out of the World"; Lloyd Mallan's collection of poems, "A Tear for the Virgins of Mind and Soul"; and a corrected copy of Kenneth Rexroth's "For Andrée Rexroth." Other poets represented include: Edgar Lee Masters, Eve Merriam, Robin Lampson, Oscar Williams, Haniel Long, and Joseph Leonard Grucci. Among the Latin American poets are Pablo de Rokha, Jacinto Fombona Pachano, Pablo Neruda, and Regino Pedroso.

Essays submitted include Carmelo Bonet's work on Latin criticism, "Apuntaciones sobre el Arte de Juzgar" [translated], Arundell del Re on Ezra Pound; Charles Glicksberg on "Proletarian Poetry in the United States"; and James Hargan's "Convict Poets," which was used in an issue of Fantasy that featured poetry by prisoners. Book reviews were contributed by, Winfield Townley Scott, Wallace Stegner, and Arthur E. DuBois. William Carlos Williams contributed a commentary on Kenneth Patchen's The Journal of Albion Moonlight. The short fiction selected for Fantasy consisted mainly of narratives by the likes of James T. Farrell, Weldon Kees, Gilbert Nieman, Meridel LeSeur, and Jean Temple. Of the Latin American contributions, Enrique Mendez Calzada's "Christ in Buenos Aires" was featured in one of the final issues of Fantasy.

Series III, Other Papers , contains newspaper clippings and a small number of miscellaneous items, such as bills, receipts, copyright certificates, and two photographs. The clippings were taken from publications which mentioned Fantasy or which included material by Fantasy's contributors. Such publications include the Augusta Chronicle, the Columbia, Ohio Dispatch, the New Mexico Sentinel, the Pittsburgh Press, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Box 9 contains Oversize material from Series III. Included are copies of The New Day, a newspaper published in the Ohio State Reformatory, and clippings from the New York Times, the Bulletin Index, and the New Mexico Sentinel.


  • 1929-1979


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Boxes 10-11: Restricted fragile material. Reference surrogates have been substituted in the main files. For further information consult the appropriate curator.

Conditions Governing Use

The Fantasy Magazine 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

The Fantasy Magazine Papers were purchased in 1989 from Joseph A. Dermont with monies from the Eugene G. O'Neill Memorial Fund.


7 Linear Feet (11 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The Fantasy Magazine Papers consist of manuscripts, correspondence, and other materials documenting the life of the magazine.


Fantasy magazine was begun in the summer of 1931 by Stanley Dehler Mayer in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This "little magazine" was intended to be a forum for the publication of "good free verse." Issued initially as a quarterly, Fantasy invited submissions from its readership and featured several Pennsylvania poets in its first issues, among them Homer D'Lettuso and Joseph Leonard Grucci. In its first number, the magazine offered a five dollar prize for the best essay on a living American poet published in the magazine. Though these essays appeared frequently during the first years of publication, their regularity decreased after 1933. A longer-standing tradition was Fantasy's poetry contest in each issue. Contestants were required to write on a particular theme (e.g., "Christmas," "Night," and "Nudism"), vying for a five dollar prize and publication in the front of the magazine. Judges for the contests included Edgar Lee Masters and Stephen Vincent Benét. The winner of the poem contest on the theme of "The Negro," Lewis H. Fenderson, gained a certain notice because he was an African-American.

Beginning in 1933, the magazine expanded its scope to include short stories and longer essays from such writers as James T. Farrell and LeGarde S. Doughty. Mayer's brief section of comments on new works of poetry expanded into a full book review section, containing signed reviews from the likes of Lloyd Mallan and Charles Glicksberg. Along with the changing format came a broadened scope of coverage on literary themes. The first issue for 1938 included an essay on "Convict Poetry" and featured submissions from prisoners, among them the issue's prizewinner, Ralph W. Hunter. By 1941, Fantasy had featured an essay on Surrealism by Eugene Jolas and one on "Paging the 'Western' Novelist" by Arnold Mulder.

By the end of the 1930s, the magazine had a contingent of contributing poets and writers from around the United States. Included among them were Kenneth Patchen, August Derleth, Harlan Hatcher, Harry Roskolenko, Joseph Joel Keith, and Harvey Breit. The magazine also had connections with writers' communities in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and California, as evidenced by contributions from Witter Bynner, Haniel Long, and James Neill Northe.

A regular feature of the magazine, translations of foreign-language poets, became of primary importance when, in 1942, Fantasy began to present a separate section on Latin American literature. Working with the Pan American Union and the Committee on Cultural Relations with Latin America (based in New Haven), Mayer published poetry and stories by Spanish-language writers such as Angel Flores, Enrique Mendez Calzada, and Regino Pedroso. Works by Pablo Neruda, Octavio Paz, and Hugo Manning were also included in this section. This new format was used for the final two issues in 1942 and 1943.

Stanley Dehler Mayer (1909-) credited Ralph Cheyney of Contemporary Vision and Jack Conroy of The Rebel Poet with assistance in starting Fantasy. Mayer contributed essays to The New Hope, a short-lived critical magazine published in New Hope, Pennsylvania in the 1930s, and printed some of his own verse in the first issues of Fantasy. The attention Fantasy garnered allowed Mayer to expand the size of the magazine. Fantasy began in 1931 with 22 pages; the final issue had 150. Though literary advertisements began to be placed as Fantasy's reputation grew, Mayer had difficulties in producing issues on a regular basis because of financial limitations. The numbering of issues is irregular beginning in 1937, when single issues were published for each year. This lasted until the magazine's demise in 1943. During the run of the magazine, Mayer established a relationship with James Laughlin, a Pittsburgh native who would later start New Directions Publishing Company. Laughlin, inspired by the presence of a little poetry magazine in his hometown, sought out young poets to publish in his own magazine. Among these were Dylan Thomas and Paul Eluard, whose works were also submitted by Laughlin to Mayer for publication in Fantasy. Many of the Spanish language poets who were first published in Fantasy were later included in the New Directions collection, Anthology of Contemporary Latin-American Poetry edited by Dudley Fitts in 1942.

Mayer, who had been involved in the printing trade before and during the period he published Fantasy, entered the U. S. Army in 1943. He eventually returned to his original profession after the war. He published no further issues of Fantasy, but did solicit interest in the late 1960s for a reissue of the original run of the magazine.

Guide to the Fantasy Magazine Papers
by Timothy G. Young
June 1992
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

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