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Mary Caroline Richards letter to Wanda Shult


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

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Overview and metadata sections

American poet, educator and potter Mary Caroline ("M.C.") Richards taught literature and drama at Black Mountain College in North Carolina from 1945 to 1951.

During her time at Black Mountain College, she wrote her first volume of poetry,

Poems, which was published at the school's Black Mountain Press in 1948. Later, Richards wrote poetry and essays with a connection to creative arts and spirituality, including Centering: In Pottery, Poetry, and the Person (1964) and Opening Our Moral Eye: Essays, Talks, and Poems Embracing Creativity and Community (1996).

In the early 1960s, she began teaching artistic classes that brought pottery and other forms of creativity together. Richards was awarded the Holy Names Medal from Fort Wright College in 1974, and was made a fellow of the Collegium of American Craftspersons of the American Crafts Council in 1976.

Born July 13, 1916, in Weiser, Idaho, Mary Caroline Richards died on September 17, 1999, at Camphill Village, in Kimberton, Pennsylvania.

"M(ary) C(aroline) Richards." Contemporary Authors Online. (reproduced in Gale Biography In Context). (accessed July 2011)."M.C. Richards, Poet, Potter and Essayist, Dies at 83." The New York Times. (accessed July 2011).

Wanda Shult studied writing with Richards during the 1947-1948 academic year at Black Mountain College.

Ilya Bolorowsky letter to Reverend Carrol Leland Shult. William Reese Company. Catalogue no. 286, item #56. (accessed July 2011).

Mary Caroline Richards wrote belatedly to answer a letter from her former Black Mountain College student Wanda Shult.

In her long, personal letter Richards began by dispelling rumors that she and her husband, Albert William Levi, Jr., had resigned from Black Mountain College. She explained that even though the atmosphere is "antagonistic" and Levi had been asked to resign, he had refused. Instead, she and Levi had asked and received a one year leave of absence during which they planned to travel to Europe and cultivate their creativity. She commented that there were "many evil things going on" at Black Mountain College, and that "whether we return will depend upon a number of things."

In the remainder of the letter, Richards described her family's activities in New York City, where they occupied a Village apartment until their passports could be processed. Levi had been painting and their daughter Estelle was going to school in the neighborhood. On October 29, they would sail to France by way of a Polish ship.

Richards observed that writing this letter was a sign of "headway against the doldrums and evil spirits" which she had experienced and which had caused her silence. She spoke of the "other evil things" that had occurred recently, including her brother's death and a miscarriage she had suffered a few weeks prior.

Finally, Richards mentioned a trip to Ocracoke Island where the family had fostered a very tiny kitten which they had named "Little Wanda Shult," and ended the letter with well wishes and encouragement to write again.

Box 62, F0904: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0099 manuscript boxes.

Purchase, June 2011.

Processed and encoded by Anita Wellner, July 2011. Further encoded by George Apodaca, October 2015.

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2011 July 29
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, University of Delaware Library,

Collection Inventory

Typed letter signed, 1948 October 12.
Box 62 Folder F0904
Physical Description

1 item (3 p.)

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