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.
For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.
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 copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.