Katherine Anne Porter Collection
Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Katherine Anne Porter was an American journalist, essayist, storywriter, poet, novelist, and political activist. Her works deal with dark themes such as betrayal, death, and the origin of human evil. In 1906, at age 16, she married John Henry Koontz, who was physically abusive to her. She ran away and worked as an actress and a singer in both Chicago and Texas. In 1918, she wrote for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, Colorado, where she almost died during the influenza pandemic. This experience provided the background for her critically acclaimed book Pale Horse, Pale Rider. In 1919 she lived in New York City, which had a politically radicalizing effect on her, and in 1920 she went to work for a magazine publisher in Mexico, where she became acquainted with members of the Mexican leftist movement, including Diego Rivera. In 1938 she married Albert Russel Erskine, Jr., a graduate student who was 20 years younger. Between 1948 and 1958, Porter taught at Stanford University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Texas, where her unconventional manner of teaching made her popular with students. In 1962, she published her successful novel Ship of Fools. In 1966 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter (1965), and was also appointed to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1977, Porter published The Never-Ending Wrong, an account of the trial and execution of Sacco and Vanzetti, which she had protested fifty years earlier.
The collection consists of selected letters, holograph and typewritten, of Katherine Anne Porter. There are two letters to Arthur Mizener, who taught English at Cornell University and was the biographer of F. Scott Fitzgerald; twelve letters to his wife, Rosemary P. Mizener; two letters addressed to both Rosemary and Arthur Mizener; and 1 letter to a Miss Mackay. In her letters to the Mizeners, Porter talks about her books, including Flowering Judas, and other essays published in Harper's Bazaar. She also mentions that her husband Albert did the editing and proofreading for one of her books. There are three letters to poet Allen Tate, where Porter mentions that she hopes to sign a deal with NBC for hosting a show about literature. Also included are nine letters to Caroline Gordon, wife of Tate. Most of Porter's letters were written while she was at Yaddo, a retreat and a working community of writers, composers, and visual artists in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where she invited Rosemary Mizener and Caroline Gordon to visit. She also wrote to Mizener about the "cloistral" nature of the place.
The collection was formed as a result of a Departmental practice of combining into one collection material of various accessions relating to a particular person, family, or subject.
17 letters to the Mizeners and Miss Mackay : Gift of Mrs. Arthur Mizener, Sept. 1948. AM 13774.
12 Letters to Allen Tate and Caroline Gordon : Purchase, Oct. 1984. AM 85-38.
Folder inventory added by Nicholas Williams '2015 in 2012.
No appraisal information is available.
- Manuscripts Division
- Finding Aid Date
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research.
- Use Restrictions
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.