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Alan Brilliant correspondence with Ted Wilentz


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 publisher Alan Brilliant (born 1936) owns and operates the Unicorn Press. Founded in 1966 by Ken Maytag in Santa Barbara, California, the press became known for publishing important works of contemporary U.S. poets and the translations of twentieth-century German and French poets.

Brilliant was born in St. Louis, Missouri. After graduating from Columbia University in 1957, he married novelist, poet, and translator Teo Savory (1907-1989) on February 20, 1958. In 1967, Brilliant and Savory had worked as designers and typesetters for the Unicorn Press, a small independent hand printing press, which they purchased in 1968. The press relocated to Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1972.

Unicorn Press. "About." Accessed April 18, 2014."Alan Donald Brilliant." Marquis Who's Who TM. Marquis Who's Who, 2009. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2009.Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2009. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2009. Biographical information also derived from the collection.

American editor and author Theodore (Ted) Wilentz (born 1915) was an essential figure to the print culture of Greenwich Village and to the wider avant-garde literary scene.

His Eighth Street Bookshop in Greenwich Village attracted poets like as e.e. cummings and Allen Ginsberg. In 1959, Wilentz and his brother Eli founded Corinth Books. From 1970 to 1973, Wilentz served as president in the Booksellers League of New York.

This collection contains .7 linear feet of personal letters and postcards from Alan Brilliant of Unicorn Press to his former employer and longtime friend, proprietor of Corinth Books Ted Wilentz. Other materials include press catalogs, newsletters, financial records, periodicals, clippings, poems, and other printed ephemera related to the Unicorn Press.

The collection reflects various milestones in the life of the small press. Following a managerial position at Red Lion Book Co., Brilliant purchased Unicorn Press, and for many years sought counsel from Wilentz concerning the book business; applying for grant funding; and placing the press's archival records with an institution. As both men were in the business of print culture, they often met at the New York Book Fair, and their respective organizations maintained a trans-continental relationship in which books and advertising space were cooperatively purchased.

  1. Boxes 1-2: Shelved in SPEC MSS boxes (3 inch)
  2. Box 3: Shelved in SPEC MSS boxes (1 inch)
  3. Removals: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize boxes (17 inches)

Purchase, September 2008.

Processed and encoded by Christopher La Casse, October 2009. Updated by Maureen Cech, April 2014.

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
10 November 2008
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 isrequired from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Collection Inventory

Scope and Contents

Consists of grant applications and financial statements for the Unicorn Press, as well as appeal letters sent out to the Friends of the Unicorn Press.

Financial statements and grant application, 1978-1990.
Box 1 Folder F1
Scope and Contents

Consists of NEA grant applications, financial statements, and newsletters to the Friends of the Unicorn Press.

Promotional ephemera, 1967-1990.
Box 1 Folder F2
Scope and Contents

Postcards, catalogues, prospecti, and broadsides for the Unicorn Press.

Unicorn Journal, 1968, 1971.
Box 1 Folder F3
Scope and Contents

One hardcover and one paperback from series.

Scope and Contents

Correspondence includes many letters written by Alan Brilliant to Ted Wilentz; letters also include occasional correspondence from Teo Savory to Ted Wilentz.

Physical Description


Letters, 1960-1980.
Box 2 Folder F4
Letters, 1981-1985.
Box 2 Folder F5
Letters, 1986.
Box 2 Folder F6
Letters, 1987.
Box 2 Folder F7
Letters, 1988-1991.
Box 2 Folder F8
Business letters, circa 1967-1986.
Box 3 Folder F9

Poetry manuscripts and clippings, circa 1955.
Box 3 Folder F10
Scope and Contents

Contains clipping of Alan Brilliant's literary review in the "Literary Bulletin" and typewritten manuscript copy of Brilliant's translation of Rimbaud's "Autobiography."

Medical and legal documents, 1981.
Box 3 Folder F11
Scope and Contents

Documentation of Teo Savory's failing health related to legal battle concerning Unicorn Press.

Manuscript of "About Men" and clippings, 1986.
Box 3 Folder F12
Scope and Contents

Autographed manuscript copy of Alan Brilliant's essay "About Men."

The New York Review of Books, 1996 August 8.
Box 3 Folder F13

Print, Suggest