Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Edgerton mss., 1938-1959, consist primarily of correspondence between Indiana University Professor of Slavic Languages and Literature, William B. Edgerton, 1914- and German novelist, Oskar Maria Graf, 1894-1967. Edgerton and Graf met durin g the summer of 1938, on a small Dutch vessel traveling from Europe to the United States. Professor Edgerton was returning home after a year teaching in France, while Graf, who knew no English, was fleeing from the Nazi regime. Edgerton was among the few American passengers who was fluent in German, and he and Graf had long, literary conversations virtually every day of the ten-day voyage. Their correspondence, in many ways, continues those conversations and, with the exception of a short letter from Graf's wife, August 30, 1941, all is in German.

Also present in the collection are two clippings of reviews of Graf's novel The Life of My Mother (New York: Howell, Soskin & Co., 1940); a copy of Professor Edgerton's letter to Time Magazine criticizing their review; a correspo ndence exchange between Edgerton and two journals, the Modern Language Journal and The German Quarterly, concerning a short article he had written about Graf in late 1941 (it was turned down by both); and a short note dated June 28, 1943 to Prof. Edgerton from a young woman whom Graf had told to get in touch with him. A typed copy of a poem "Ein Deutscher Dichter im Exil" by Max Hermann-Niesse, a photograph of Graf with his wife Mirjam, a printed copy of Graf's "Ode an New York," and two ad vertisements for books by Graf complete the collection.

Gift. William Edgerton. Bloomington, IN 47401. 1997

Collection size: 66 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.