Finding-Aid for the Denise Levertov Papers (MSS070)


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Table of Contents

Collection Outline

Descriptive Summary

Biographical Note

Scope and Contents Note

Restrictions

Administrative Information


Collection Outline

I. Correspondence

II. Manuscripts

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Descriptive Summary

CreatorLevertov, Denise, 1923-1997
TitleDenise Levertov Papers
Dates: 1942-1977.
Quantity: 1 box
Identification: MSS070

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Biographical Note

Denise Levertov (October 24, 1923 – December 20, 1997) was a British-born American poet. Levertov was born and grew up in Ilford, Essex. Levertov, who was educated at home, showed an enthusiasm for writing from an early age and studied ballet, art, Piano and French as well as standard subjects. She wrote about the strangeness she felt growing up part Jewish, German, Welsh and English, but not fully belonging to any of these identities. When she was five years old she declared she would be a writer. At the age of 12, she sent some of her poems to T. S. Eliot, who replied with a two-page letter of encouragement. In 1940, when she was 17, Levertov published her first poem. During the Blitz of World War II, Levertov served in London as a civilian nurse. Her first book, The Double Image, was published six years later. In 1947, she married American writer Mitchell Goodman and moved with him to the United States the following year. In 1955, she became a naturalized American citizen.

Levertov's first two books had concentrated on traditional forms and language. But as she accepted the U.S. as her new home, she became more and more fascinated with the American idiom. She began to come under the influence of the Black Mountain poets and most importantly William Carlos Williams. Her first American book of poetry, Here and Now, shows the beginnings of this transition and transformation. Her poem “With Eyes at the Back of Our Heads” established her reputation. During the 1960s and 70s, Levertov became much more politically active in her life and work. As poetry editor for The Nation, she was able to support and publish the work of feminist and other leftist activist poets. The Vietnam War was an especially important focus of her poetry, which often tried to weave together the personal and political, as in her poem "The Sorrow Dance," which speaks of her sister's death.

Much of the latter part of Levertov’s life was spent in education. After moving to Massachusetts, Levertov taught at Brandeis University, MIT and Tufts University. On the West Coast, she had a part-time teaching stint at the University of Washington and for 11 years (1982–1993) held a full professorship at Stanford University, where she taught in the Stegner Fellowship program. In 1984, she received a Litt. D. from Bates College. After retiring from teaching, she travelled for a year doing poetry readings in the U.S. and Britain.

Levertov wrote and published 20 books of poetry, criticism, and translations. She also edited several anthologies. Among her many awards and honors, she received the Shelley Memorial Award, the Robert Frost Medal the Lenore Marshall Prize, the Lannan Award, a Catherine Luck Memorial Grant, a grant from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

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Scope and Contents Note

Consists of correspondence to Charles Wrey Gardiner, an early London mentor; to Richard Deutch, a young students and poet, giving him critical attention and personal encouragement; to Walter Hamady, printer, concerning Hamady's publication of "Psalm Concerning the Castle" [poem]. Also includes typescripts and proofs of "Psalm Concerning ths Castle" and materials toward Levertov's lecture "Chekhov on Hampstead Heath" at Cornell University and the subsequent publication of the poem "Chekov on the West Heath"

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Restrictions

Access Restrictions

Open.

Use Restriction

None

Users of the collections must read and abide by the Reading Room and Reproduction Policy.

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 to Quote from or Publish Manuscript Materials.

All publication not covered by fair use restricted to those who have permission of the copyright holder.

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Administrative Information

Source of Collection

Accession number 972. Gift of Richard Deutch, August 21, 1968 (Correspondence to Deutch)

Accession number 1363. Purchse from Wallrich, October 23, 1972 (Correspondence to Charles Wrey Gardiner)

Accession number 1366. Gift of Richard Deutch, November 21, 1972 (Correspondence to Deutch)

Accession number 2012.023. Purchase from Clouds Hills Books, August 2012 (Checkov on the West Heath)

Accruals

Interfiled within collection or by accession at end of collection.

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I. Correspondence,

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Denise Levertov to Charles Wrey Gardiner, No date (Autograph letter signed, 1 page)
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Denise Levertov to Charles Wrey Gardiner, No date (Autograph letter signed, 2 pages)
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Denise Levertov to Charles Wrey Gardiner, 1942: December 24 (Autograph letter signed, 1 page)
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Denise Levertov to Charles Wrey Gardiner, 1943 (Autograph letter signed, 2 pages)
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Denise Levertov to Charles Wrey Gardiner, 1943 (Autograph letter signed, 1 page)
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Denise Levertov to Charles Wrey Gardiner, 1943 (Autograph letter signed, 1 page)
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Denise Levertov to Charles Wrey Gardiner, 1943 (Autograph letter signed, 5 pages)
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Beatrice Levertoff to Mrs. Gardiner, 1943: February 27 (Autograph letter signed, 2 pages)
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Denise Levertov to Charles Wrey Gardiner, 1944: March 12 (Autograph letter signed, 2 pages)
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Denise Levertov to Charles Wrey Gardiner, 1945: April 20 (Autograph letter signed, 2 pages)
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Denise Levertov to Charles Wrey Gardiner, 1946 (Autograph letter signed, 2 pages)
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Denise Levertov to Weldon Kees, 1955: April 24 (Autograph letter signed, 6 pages)
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Denise Levertov to Weldon Kees, 1955: May 14 (Autograph letter signed, 2 pages)
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Denise Levertov to Richard Deutch, 1962: August 24 (Autograph letter signed, 2 pages)
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Denise Levertov to Richard Deutch, 1962: September 13 (Autograph letter signed, 4 pages)
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Denise Levertov to Richard Deutch, 1963: April 5 (Autograph letter signed, 8 pages)
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Denise Levertov to Richard Deutch, 1963: July 25 (Autograph letter signed, 4 pages)
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Denise Levertov to Richard Deutch, 1963: September 22 (Autograph letter signed, 4 pages)
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Denise Levertov to Richard Deutch, 1963: October 3 (Autograph letter signed, 2 pages)
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Denise Levertov to Richard Deutch, 1963: December 1 (Autograph card signed, 1 page)
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Denise Levertov to Richard Deutch, 1964: February 16 (Autograph letter signed, 6 pages)
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Denise Levertov to Richard Deutch, 1964: July 30 (Autograph card signed, 1 page)
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Denise Levertov to Richard Deutch, 1964: October 19 (Autograph card signed, 1 page)
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Denise Levertov to Richard Deutch, 1964: October 31 (Autograph letter signed, 2 pages)
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Denise Levertov to Richard Deutch, 1965: January 14 (Typed letter signed, 2 pages)
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Denise Levertov to Richard Deutch, 1965: March (Autograph letter signed, 1 page)
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Denise Levertov to Richard Deutch, 1965: March 14 (Autograph card signed, 1 page)
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Denise Levertov to Richard Deutch, 1965: July 7 (Autograph card signed, 1 page)
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Denise Levertov to Walter Hamady, 1965: November 30 (Typed letter signed, 1 page)
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Denise Levertov to Walter Hamady, 1966: January 23 (Typed letter signed, 2 pages)
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Denise Levertov to Walter Hamady, 1966: February (Autograph card signed, 2 pages)
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Denise Levertov to Walter Hamady, 1966: February 8 (Autograph letter signed, 1 page)
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Denise Levertov to Walter Hamady, 1966: March 28 (Autograph letter signed, 2 pages)
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Denise Levertov to Walter Hamady, 1966: April 18 (Autograph letter signed, 1 page)
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Denise Levertov to Walter Hamady, 1967: February 10 (Typed letter signed, 1 page)
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Denise Levertov to Walter Hamady, 1967: March (Autograph card signed, 1 page)
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Denise Levertov to Walter Hamady, 1967: November (Autograph card signed, 1 page)
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Richard Deutch to Washington University Libraries, 1972: November 17 (Typed letter signed, 1 page)
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Envelopes, (15 items)

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II. Manuscripts,

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Psalm Concerning the Castle [poem], (Typescript, 2 pages)
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Psalm Concerning the Castle [poem], (Proofs, 6 items)
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Chekov on the West Heath [poem], 1977 (Poster advertising Levertov's reading of her lecture "Chekhov on Hampstead Heath" and announcement from Hames McConkey concerning the lecture)
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Chekov on the West Heath [poem], 1977 (Correspondence concerning the publication of Chekov on the West Heath, 8 items)
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Chekov on the West Heath [poem], (Autograph mock-up of title pages and copyright page, prospectus, typed "Notes," autograph notes in unknown hand, corrected typescript of "Prefatory Note," and typescript [photocopy] of Levertov's Chekhov on the West Heath.)

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