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H. L. Mencken Letters to Rev. Dr. Herbert Parrish


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

Mencken, H.L. (Henry Louis), 1880-1956

H. L. (Henry Louis) Mencken (1880-1956) was an American journalist, magazine editor, critic, satirist and essayist. He was born in Baltimore and lived there all his life, and was known as the "Sage of Baltimore." He started his writing career as a journalist at the Baltimore Morning Herald , from 1899 to 1905, and then moved to The Baltimore Sun , where he contributed full-time until he suffered a stroke in 1948. In 1908, he became a literary critic for the magazine The Smart Set , and in 1924, he and George Jean Nathan founded The American Mercury . Dent Smith was founder and editor of the Hoboken-based literary magazine ENCORE between 1942 and 1944.

The collection consists of 108 letters (typed and signed) by Mencken to Rev. Dr. Herbert Parrish, who was the rector of Christ Church in New Brunswick, N.J. These are both personal and literary letters, many exhibiting Mencken's quick and affable humor, written to Parrish on a number of subjects, including the health and affairs of his family members, the death of his mother, his uncle's bankruptcy, his philosophies on writing and the state of current literature, and Parrish's own writings (many of which Mencken published). A number of letters also make references to alcohol consumption, prohibition laws, and social drinking. The letters range (where dated) from 2 December [1914] through 17 July 1942. Letterheads include the Smart Set and The American Mercury, as well as Mencken's home addresses in Baltimore: he lived on Hollins Street both before he was married to his wife Sara in 1930 and after she died in 1935, and while he was married he lived on Cathedral Street.

The letters are arranged chronologically by year.

Purchased on August 16, 2007 (AM2008-25).

This collection was processed by Lauren Kustner in September 24, 2007. Finding aid written by Lauren Kustner in October 1, 2007. Folder Inventory added by Hilde Creager (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.

Collection Inventory

Correspondence, 1914-1942. 15 folders.
Physical Description

15 folders

Miscellaneous: article by Parrish, 1912 December 14. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

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