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Rudi Holzapfel letters to Ellen Shannon-Mangan


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

The Irish poet Rudolf Patrick (Rudi) Holzapfel was born in Paris, France, on December 11, 1938. His father, Rudolf Melander Holzapfel (1900-1982), was a Shakespeare scholar, expert on Old Master paintings, and art dealer. His mother, Mona Trew Holzapfel, was an original member of the renowned "Bluebell Girls," the Parisian dance troupe founded in 1932 that continues to perform elaborate shows at the Lido de Paris. The family relocated to America, living in California between 1946 to 1956, where Rudi Holzapfel graduated from Santa Barbara Catholic High School. From 1956 to 1970, Holzapfel worked various jobs in England and Ireland, and studied at Trinity College in Dublin. It was during these years that Holzapfel began to identify with Ireland and the cause of Irish nationalism; he has said he would like to be considered "a true inheritor of the spiritual legacy of the Gaelic Bards." He began a lifelong study and appreciation of James Clarence Mangan (1803-1849), "the greatest Irish poet before Yeats." In 1969, Holzapfel published

James Clarence Mangan: A Checklist of Printed and Other Sources (Dublin: Scepter).

From 1970 to the late 1980s, Holzapfel lived in Germany, teaching English and literature. Holzapfel has published more than twenty-five books of poetry, some under his own imprint, Sunburst Press (Blackrock, County Dublin). An early book of poetry,

Cast a Cold Eye, was written with Brendan Kennelly (Dolmen Press, 1959). Holzapfel has published with other Irish authors, including Oliver Snoddy and John Farrell, and his work has been anthologized in the Penguin Book of Irish Verse and Modern Irish Poets. With a circle of other Mangan scholars, including Jacques Chuto, Peter Van de Kamp, Peter MacMahon, and Ellen Shannon-Mangan, Holzapfel has edited selections of Mangan's prose and poems for the Irish Academic Press.

Holzapfel, Rudi. Ask Silence Why: Selected Poems, 1961-1982 / edited by Ellen Shannon-Mangan. Dublin: Beaver Row Press, 1987.Holzapfel, Rudolf Melander. The autobiography of Rudolf Melander Holzapfel / edited by his son. [Dublin]: Sunburst Press, c1992.

Ellen Shannon-Mangan was married to Richard Mangan (now deceased), a descendent of the Irish poet James Clarence Mangan. In the course of pursuing her own studies and preparing a biography of Mangan, she was referred by Brendan Kennelly, Professor of Modern Literature at Trinity College, Dublin, to his old friend, fellow poet and Mangan admirer Rudi Holzapfel. Shannon-Mangan first met Holzapfel in the early 1980s when she and her husband traveled from their home in Oregon to Bonn, West Germany, where Holzapfel was living. Through correspondence and visits, Shannon-Mangan and Holzapfel shared interests and developed editorial projects related to Mangan.

In addition, Shannon-Mangan edited a collection of Holzapfel's poetry,

Ask Silence Why: Selected Poems (1961-1982) and represented his work with American publishers. She is the author of James Clarence Mangan: a Biography (1996) and co-editor, with Holzapfel, Jacques Chuto, Peter Van de Kamp, and Peter MacMahon, of the Irish Academic Press Series The Collected Works of James Clarence Mangan, including Prose, 1832-1882; Poems, 1818-1912; and Selected Poems.

Shannon-Mangan, Ellen. James Clarence Mangan: A Biography. Dublin and Portland, Oregon: Irish Academic Press, 1996.

The Rudi Holzapfel Letters to Ellen Shannon-Mangan comprises one linear foot of correspondence, including 171 letters and greeting cards, and 54 postcards, spanning the dates 1978 – 2000. The correspondence began when Brendan Kennelly introduced Shannon-Mangan to Holzapfel for assistance with her biography of the poet of James Clarence Mangan. Holzapfel's letters were written from Bonn, West Germany, where he lived through the 1980s, and Tipperary, Ireland, where he moved in 1990, as well as during travels. Shannon-Mangan lived in Astoria, Oregon. Beyond the discussion of Clarence Mangan's life, work, and critical reception, the primary subject of the letters is literature, particularly poetry, including Holzapfel's writing and Shannon-Mangan's own work. Additionally, the families of both writers became friends, and the letters contain personal and family news. The postcards in the collection were sent from various European locations where Holzapfel traveled and vacationed. The tone of Holzapfel's commentary on life as a poet and the work of other writers is frank, humorous, and outspoken. Holzapfel's letters, whether handwritten or typed, frequently bear his supplemental holograph annotations, revisions, commentary, and postscripts -- reflecting great engagement in his correspondence with Shannon-Mangan.

The collection is arranged chronologically. Most of the letters include original mailing envelopes, which often bear Shannon-Mangan's autograph notes concerning the contents of the letter or her responses to the letter, as well as the date she replied to the letters. In many cases the letters are annotated with autograph notes relating to Shannon-Mangan's editorial work on Holzapfel's

Selected Poems and her biography of James Clarence Mangan. Holzapfel read at least portions of Shannon-Mangan's work-in-progress and comments on her writing and research in detail.

Two photographs are included in the collection, one of Rudi Holzapfel, dated 1994 (F13), and another of his father, Rudolf Melander Holzapfel (F3), included with a memorial card (1982).

The collection is arranged chronologically.

Boxes 1-3: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes

Purchase, February 2003

Processed by Gerald Cloud, June 2004. Encoded by Debra Johnson, 2007.

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2006 June 13
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

Letters, 1978-1980.
Box 1 Folder F1
Physical Description

7 items

Letters, 1981.
Box 1 Folder F2
Physical Description

18 items

Letters, 1982.
Box 1 Folder F3
Scope and Contents

Including portrait of Rudolf Melander Holzapfel

Physical Description

15 items

Letters, 1983.
Box 1 Folder F4
Physical Description

16 items

Letters, 1984.
Box 1 Folder F5
Physical Description

11 items

Letters, 1985.
Box 1 Folder F6
Physical Description

20 items

Letters, 1986.
Box 2 Folder F7
Physical Description

16 items

Letters, 1987.
Box 2 Folder F8
Physical Description

23 items

Letters, 1988.
Box 2 Folder F9
Physical Description

17 items

Letters, 1989.
Box 2 Folder F10
Physical Description

15 items

Letters, 1990-1991.
Box 2 Folder F11
Physical Description

21 items

Letters, 1992-1993.
Box 2 Folder F12
Physical Description

14 items

Letters, 1994-1996.
Box 2 Folder F13
Scope and Contents

Including photograph of Rudi Holzapfel

Physical Description

14 items

Letters, 1997-1998.
Box 2 Folder F14
Physical Description

13 items

Letters, 1999-2000.
Box 2 Folder F15
Physical Description

9 items

Print, Suggest