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Robert E. Spiller collection


Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. 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

American author and scholar Robert E. Spiller was born November 13, 1896 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was educated at the University of Pennsylvania, receiving an AB in 1917, an MA in 1921 and a Ph.D. in 1924.

The majority of Robert Spiller's teaching career was spent at the University of Pennsylvania, where he taught from 1920 to 1967. In 1967 he retired from the University as Felix E. Schelling Professor of English Literature Emeritus. He was a visiting lecturer at numerous universities and conferences, such as Duke University (1927), Harvard University (1930), Columbia University (1931, 1937), University of Oslo (1950), University of London (1958-1959), and the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference (1938). Robert Spiller's contributions to the field of American literary history were recognized with honorary degrees from Thiel College, College of Wooster, University of Kiel, and the University of Pennsylvania.

A scholar in the field of American literary history, Spiller wrote such critical studies as

Fenimore Cooper: Critic of His Times (1931), The Cycle of American Literature: An Essay in Historical Criticism (1955), and Milestones in American Literary History (1977). He was also the editor of numerous literary texts, a reviewer of books, and a contributor to encyclopedias, newspapers, and professional journals. Robert E. Spiller died in August 1988 in Philadelphia, PA.

Biographical information derived from the collection.Robert E. Spiller." Contemporary Authors Online. The Gale Group, 2001. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: The Gale Group, 2002. Retrieved June 1, 2002 from

The Robert E. Spiller Collection consists of twenty-six letters, reviews, articles, or printed items related to or collected by Spiller. The items are sorted into several small groups. The first group consists of seven letters written to Spiller congratulating him on his recently published article, "Sidney Lanier: Ancestor of Anti-Realism." A photocopy of the article, which appeared in the January 10, 1948 issue of

The Saturday Review, and a letter from the editor complete this group.

A second set of four items is related to Spiller's review of Sheldon Norman Grebstein's

John O'Hara, written at the request of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in 1967. The letter of request, a program, a typescript (carbon) draft of the review, and tear sheets of the published article are present.

The next group of five items concerns Spiller's review of two books written by Thomas Wolfe. The review appeared in the autumn 1963 issue of

Sewanee Review. Items documenting this review are a letter requesting the review, a carbon copy of Spiller's letter of acceptance, a typescript (carbon) draft of the review, a printed image of Wolfe, and tear sheets of the published article.

The remaining items comprise a miscellany of literary ephemera, including printed and photocopied articles and a one-page bibliography on

The Grapes of Wrath. Tear sheets or photocopies of articles concerning Eugene O'Neill and Robert Penn Warren, a brochure advertising books written by Kenneth Patchen, and newsletters published by P.E.N. (1955 Nov) and the Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial (1957) complete the collection.

Box 11, F0232: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0099 manuscript boxes.

Purchase, October 1981

Processed by Anita A. Wellner, June 2002. Encoded by Jaime Margalotti, November 2019.

Some of printed ephemera were originally laid in books from the personal library of Spiller. The books have been cataloged and are available in either Special Collections or Morris Library. Any item removed from a book has a penciled notation on the item naming the book.


University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2019 November 7
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Collection Inventory

Robert E. Spiller collection, 1947-1966.
Box 11 Folder F0232

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