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Robin Magowan papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 612

Scope and Contents

The collecton consists of correspondence, writings, notebooks, printed material, audiovisual materials, electronic media, and other papers documenting the life and work of poet and writer Robin Magowan. Writings include manuscripts and typescripts of poems and prose, including drafts and corrected copies of Lilac Cigarette in a Wish Cathedral (University of South Carolina Press, 1998), Memoirs of a Minotaur (Story Line Press, 1999), and other works. Includes correspondence and other papers relating to Magowan's uncle, James Merrill.


  • 1936 - 2017


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Boxes 26 and 40 (audiovisual materials): Restricted fragile material. Reference copies may be requested. Consult Access Services for further information.

Boxes 27, 35, and 39 (computer disks): Restricted fragile material. Reference copies of electronic files may be requested. Consult Access Services for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Robin Magowan 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

Gift of Robin Magowan, 2012-2020.


Organized into seven groupings: April 2012 acquisition; July 2014 acquisition; February 2016 acquisition; September 2016 acquisition; February 2017 acquisition; January 2019 acquisition; and July 2020 acquistion.


30.09 Linear Feet (42 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL

Biographical / Historical

Robin Magowan (b. 1936) is an American poet, memoirist, and travel writer. He studied at Exeter, Harvard (B. A.) and Columbia (M.A.) and Yale, where he earned a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature. He taught at the University of Washington, and the University of California, Berkeley. In 1986 he founded the journal Margin; he served as editor until 1990. He is the author of books in several genres, including: Lilac Cigarette in a Wish Cathedral, Memoirs of a Minotaur, And Other Voyages, Fabled Cities: Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, Kings of the Road Portrait of Racers and Racing, Birds in a Forest Swaying, and The Rim of Dawn. He is the nephew of poet James Merrill.

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 as they are acquired, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.

This collection received a basic level of processing, including rehousing and minimal organization. Various acquisitions associated with the collection have not been merged and organized as a whole. Each acquisition is described separately in the contents list below, titled according to month and year of acquisition.

Information included in the Description of Papers note and Collection Contents section is drawn from information supplied with the collection and from an initial survey of the contents. Folder titles appearing in the contents list below are often based on those provided by the creator or previous custodian. Titles have not been verified against the contents of the folders in all cases. Otherwise, folder titles are supplied by staff during initial processing.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Guide to the Robin Magowan Papers
by Beinecke staff, Lucretia Baskin
May 2017. Revised: June 2023
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • September 2020: Added 2020 addition

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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.