Manuscripts
Department of Special Collections
Washington University Libraries
Washington University in St. Louis

Finding-Aid for the Elizabeth Bishop Papers (WTU00012)

Finding aid prepared by:
Special Collections Staff

Summary Information
Title: Elizabeth Bishop Papers
Creator: Bishop, Elizabeth, 1911-1979.
Extent: 42 items
Call number: WTU00012
Language: English
Repository: Washington University in St. Louis
St. Louis, MO 63130


Access and Use:
Access Restrictions:

Open.

Use Restrictions:

Users of the collections must read and abide by the Rules for the use of manuscript collection materials.

Users of the collections who wish to use items from this collection, in whole or in part, in any form of publication (as defined in the form) must sign and submit to the Washington University Department of Special Collections a hard copy of the Notification of intent publish manuscript collection materials form.

All publication restricted to those who have permission of the copyright holder.

Copyright to large portions of the collection held by Alice Methfessel

Processing Information:

Processed by Washington University Department Special Collections Staff ca. 1990. EAD encoded finding-aid complete December, 2001

Preferred Citation:

Preferred CitationElizabeth Bishop Papers, Washington University in St. Louis


Biography

Biographical information on Elizabeth Bishop can be found in Elizabeth Bishop (New York, 1966) by Anne Stevenson, and in this collection. Bishop's books include the following:

  1. North & South [collection of poems] 1946
  2. Poems: North & South - A Cold Spring [collection of poems] 1955
  3. The Diary of "Helena Morley" [trans by Bishop] 1957
  4. Brazil [travelog] 1962
  5. Questions of Travel [collection of poems] 1965
  6. The Complete Poems [collection of poems] 1969


Collection Scope and Content Note

Scope and Contents Note

The collection consists primarily of letters and cards from Elizabeth Bishop to Anne Stevenson providing biographical information to be used in writing Elizabeth Bishop as part of Twayne's United States Authors Series. Bishop also discusses her work and comments on literary figures including Robert Lowell, Marianne Moore, W.H.Auden, Ernest Hemingway, John Berryman, and many others. Included with the collection are one TLS from Marianne Moore to Stevenson discussing Bishop; letters from people at Vassar who knew Bishop as a student; and several TLs [carbon] from Stevenson to Bishop. A newspaper clipping from the New York Times concerning Bishop is included. Letters bulk 1963-1965. Letters originate from Brooklyn, N.Y., New York City, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Waterloo, Mass., Ann Arbor, Mich., Seattle, Wash., San Francisco, London, Lodsworth, Sussex, Rio de Janeiro, Samambaia, Petrópolis, and Ouro Preto, Brazil. 30TLsS, 1 TL, 4 TLs [carbon], 1 T postcard, 3 ALsS, 1 telegram, 1 newspaper clipping.

Subject Terms

  • Moore, Marianne, 1887-1972.
  • Stevenson, Anne Katharine, 1933-
Contents List
      Title
box-folder   1/1-4  
I.1 Bishop, Elizabeth, 1911-1979, American author. Correspondence, 1963-1970. [series]: (78 pp. 42 items.)
box-folder   1/ 1  
1963:
 
January 8. (TLS 1 p.)
Note: Marianne Moore to Anne Stevenson Many letters in the collection are addressed to Anne Elvin, married name of Anne Stevenson.   
Scope: Suggesting that Stevenson contact Elizabeth Bishop concerning the Twayne Book. Comments on the Bishop she knows: "She seems happy. Is very fond of animals -..."; and on herself: "I am a rebel, Mrs. Elvin, refusing to do any work for anyone; rough and ready in speech -".


 
January 19. (ALS 1 p.)   
Scope: Helen E. Sandison to Stevenson discussing her memories of Bishop at Vassar where she was her faculty advisor.


 
January 21. (TLS 1 p.)   
Scope: Julia G. Bacon to Stevenson informing her of facts concerning Bishop's record at Vassar.


 
January 22. (TLS 1 p.)   
Scope: Elizabeth Bishop to Stevenson acknowledging her request for information and agreeing to help if she can.


 
March 18. (TLS 2pp.)   
Scope: Bishop to Stevenson giving biographical information about her places of residence; discussing her fondness for music and painting; and discussing herself and Marianne Moore: "...I am rather weary of always being compared to, or coupled with, Marianne..."


 
March 20. (TLS 2 pp.)   
Scope: Bishop to Stevenson outlining where and when poems were written; commenting on how poems come to her: "I use dream material whenever I am lucky enough to have any..."; mentioning her friendships with artists: Lowell, Edmund Wilson, Alexander Calder, Randall Jarrell.


 
March 28. (TL [carbon] 2 pp.)   
Scope: Stevenson to Bishop asking questions about Bishop's work and answering questions about herself.


 
August 24. (TLS 1 p.)   
Scope: Bishop to Stevenson commenting on her unpleasant stay in Washington, D.C., as poetry consultant to the Library of Congress, 1949-50.


 
August 26. (TLS 1 p.)   
Scope: Carl D. Brandt [literary agent] to Stevenson. A note accompanying copies of Bishop's new poems.


 
October 2. (TLS 3 pp.)   
Scope: Bishop to Stevenson giving biographical information. Bishop mentions that "the Brazil book" is much edited; comments on certain of her poems and stories; outlines her early publishing history mentioning her association with Mary McCarthy; mentions the influence on her of Pablo Neruda and John Dewey - his personality, not his writing.


 
October 28. (TL[carbon] 4 pp.)   
Scope: Stevenson to Bishop. Primarily an outline for and discussion of her book, Elizabeth Bishop.


 
December 30. (TLS 1 p.)   
Scope: Bishop to Stevenson mentioning personal matters, particularly her friendship with Lota De Macedo Soares.


box-folder   1/ 2  
1964:   
Scope:


 
January 8. (TLS 7 pp.)   
Scope: Bishop to Stevenson including biographical data relating to the insanity of her mother, the house she and Lota have built, her dissatisfaction with the Brazil book. She discusses her views on translation; mentions poets she admires: Pasternak, Rimbaud, Esenin, Hopkins, Whitman, Dickenson; discusses Neruda and his work at length. She discusses some of her attitudes: "In fact I think snobbery governs a great deal of my taste." Discusses her friends, her views on criticism, her love of art. Discusses her admiration for Hemingway and Lawrence: "I admire both Hemingway & Lawrence - along with others - for living in the real world and knowing how to do things." Mentions her damiration for Chekov as an artist and a person. Mentions Darwin, Herbert and Baudelaire. Discusses her lack of formal religion. Discusses the poetics of William Carlos Williams, Pound, Wallace Stevens, and E.E.Cummings.


 
January 29. (TL[carbon] 2 pp.)   
Scope: Stevenson to Bishop commenting on Bishop's work and on the book in progress.


 
February 16. (TLS 2 pp.)   
Scope: Bishop to Stevenson discussing Issac Babel and commenting critically on Babel, Lowell, Jarrell, Frost, Moore, Shapiro, Winters, and Berryman. "...the problem is how to be justly but impresonally bitter, isn't it -".


 
March 6. (TL[carbon] 2 pp.)   
Scope: Stevenson to Bishop asking questions of fact about Bishop's background and commenting on the book and what it will contain.


 
[nd, March(?)]. (TL 7 pp.)   
Scope: Bishop to Stevenson. Primarily biographical data, mentioning when and where she met people; discussing her "social Terror"; her personal views on many mostly non-literary topics.


 
March 22. (TLS 1 p.)   
Scope: Barbara Swain to Stevenson relating what she remembers about Bishop at Vassar.


 
March 23. (TLS 2 pp.)   
Scope: Bishop to Stevenson in which Bishop discusses her reading of Darwin; her feelings about children and pets; and the conditions (physical and political) in Brazil.


box-folder   1/ 3  
April 8. (TLS 1 p.)   
Scope: Bishop to Stevenson describing the Revolution of April 1, 1964.


 
May 5. (TLS 4 pp.)   
Scope: Bishop to Stevenson. The letter is a discussion of her mother's insanity, private matters, and the Revolution.


 
June 30. (TLS 1 p.)   
Scope: Bishop to Stevenson suggesting an itinerary for a visit to London.


 
July 8. (Tpostcard 1 p.)   
Scope: Bishop to Stevenson. A "thank you" note following Bishop's visit to Cambridge.


 
July 10. (ALS 1 p.)   
Scope: Bishop to Stevenson describing her visit in Sussex with one of Aiken's daughters.


 
October 27. (TLS 1 p.)   
Scope: Bishop to Stevenson in which she discusses several poets including Stevens, Berryman, Lowell, Roethke, Anne Sexton, Seidel, Cummings, and Moore.


 
November 14. (TLS 2 pp.)   
Scope: Bishop to Stevenson comparing herself to Andrew Wyeth.


 
December 5. (TLS 1 p.)   
Scope: Bishop to Stevenson in which she comments on Ruskin and Hopkins and Wyeth and Randall Jarrell on her work.


box-folder   1/ 4  
1965:
 
February 7. (TLS 2 pp.)   
Scope: Bishop to Stevenson concerning personal matters, problems with Houghton-Mifflin over copyrights, her feelings on Chinese, and writing journalism.


 
February 14. (Telegram 1 p.)   
Scope: George Abbott to Stevenson. An apology for his failure to write. Apparently unrelated to the Bishop book.


 
February 18. (TLS 1 p.)   
Scope: Bishop to Stevenson in which she mentions a re-reading of T.S.Eliot's "What is Minor Poetry"; Wittgenstein and I.A. Richards; comments on a study away from home: "It's the only way to concentrate - particularly for our distractable and too-obliging sex -".


 
April 10. (TLS 1 p.)   
Scope: Bishop to Stevenson congratulating her on the book, Elizabeth Bishop.


 
May 20. (TLS 2 pp.)   
Scope: Bishop to Stevenson correcting factual errors in the book. Mentions her reading of Wittgenstein. Includes a chronology of the events in her life.


box-folder   1/ 4  
[1965]: August 15. (TLS 4 pp.)   
Scope: Bishop to Stevenson correcting biographical inaccuracies in the book. Mentions Hans Christian Anderson: "...one of my favorite writers;" discusses W.H.Auden and Sylvia Plath.


box-folder   1/ 4  
[nd, Fall 1965?]. (TLS 1 p.)   
Scope: Bishop to Stevenson. A note telling of her address.


box-folder   1/ 4  
[1965]:
 
Sept. 18. (Tpost card S 1 p.)   
Scope: Bishop to Stevenson discussing the book, Elizabeth Bishop.


 
November 14. (TLS 2 pp.)   
Scope: Bishop to Stevenson commenting on Stevenson's poems.


box-folder   1/ 4  
1966:
 
April 11. (TLS 1 p.)   
Scope: Bishop to Stevenson discussing Bishop's teaching experience in Seattle; her most recent book (Questions of Travel); W.H.Auden; and her travel plans.


 
November 11. (ALS 1 p.)   
Scope: Bishop to Stevenson mentioning Joseph Summers, a friend, who is to spend a year teaching at Oxford.


 
December 18. (TLS 1 p.)   
Scope: Bishop to Stevenson discussing personal matters, primarily the hospitalization of her friend Lota De Macedo Soares.


box-folder   1/ 4  
1969: April 3. (TLS 2 pp.)   
Scope: Bishop to Stevenson discussing the changes in her life since the death of Lota De Macedo Soares.


box-folder   1/ 4  
1970: February 15. (TLS 2 pp.)   
Scope: Bishop to Stevenson discussing her house in Brazil and other personal matters; mentions a current difficulty in getting down to work.


box-folder   1/ 4  
Clipping (1 item)   
Scope: from the New York Times, September 30, 1964, about Bishop.