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Washington University, Brookings Hall

Welcome to the Modern Literature Collection Blog

We are excited to introduce the Modern Literature Collection Blog, a go-to resource for new acquisitions, current projects, and upcoming events related to the Modern Literature Collection, part of  Washington University Libraries’ Department of Special Collections. In addition to updates, you’ll find articles and essays on our most intriguing materials, including insight from prominent scholars as they explore our authors’ personal archives.


Mona Van Duyn

Since 1964, the Modern Literature Collection (MLC) has devoted itself to preserving and celebrating the legacies of contemporary English and American literary writers. The collection’s original forty-six authors were selected by a committee of five writers associated with Washington University, including award-winning poet Mona Van Duyn. Today, the MLC represents over 175 authors, presses, and journals, including the papers of Samuel Beckett, Robert Creeley, James Dickey, Robert Duncan, Stanley Elkin, Raymond Federman, Donald Finkel, William Gaddis, Isabella Gardner, William H. Gass, Ted Hughes, James Merrill, Howard Nemerov, William Jay Smith, May Swenson, Alexander Trocchi, Constance Urdang, David Wagoner, and Tennessee Williams.


Howard Nemerov

The MLC includes an extensive range of authors’ written materials, providing invaluable biographical context as well as insight into their creative processes. Manuscript drafts, notebooks, and personal correspondence provide a unique behind-the-scenes backdrop for the realization of literary classics. Collections of significant objects, photographs, scrapbooks, and other ephemera provide intimate portraits of writers off the page.

In addition, the MLC provides access to authors’ exclusive audio and video recordings, including literary readings, interviews, lectures, craft discussions, even rare performances of theatrical works and radio plays. The Modern Literature Collection: The First 50 Years digital exhibit provides excerpts of some of these recordings, along with a wide array of other digitized items from the MLC.

On the Search Collections page you can search the finding aids and cataloged items, including those in the MLC. Visit our Manuscript Collection page for additional ways to access the MLC and other manuscript collections as well.

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube for additional updates on the Modern Literature Collection. We look forward to sharing with you some of the illuminating, fascinating, and often beautiful materials we see every day!

About the author

Meghan Lamb currently lives with her husband in St. Louis, where she is a fiction MFA candidate with the Washington University Writing Program and a Graduate Assistant with the Modern Literature Collection. She is the author of Silk Flowers (Birds of Lace) and Sacramento (Solar Luxuriance).