Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Norse mss., 1934–1980, consist of correspondence, writings, photographs, and memorabilia of poet Harold Norse, 1916– . Harold George Norse was born July 6, 1916, in the Bronx, New York, and grew up in Brooklyn. He attended Brooklyn College, edited the school's literary magazine, the Brooklyn College Observer, and received his B.A. in English Literature in 1938. Norse returned to do graduate work more than ten years later, earning an M.A. in English and American Poetry from New York University in 1951.

From 1953 until 1968 he wandered Europe, North Africa, and the Near East in self–exile, returning to the United States to live in California. He now makes San Francisco his home.

Norse has been described as a Beat writer, a gay writer, and an expatriate writer. He has written and published in many countries of the world and his poems have been translated into at least nine languages. In 1972 he decided to establish and edit his own magazine titled Bastard Angel. It was to appear in only three issues but in those issues both new and established writers were presented, and experimental and non–conformist poetry and prose were emphasized. Norse's autobiography, Memoirs of a Bastard Angel was published by William Morrow and Company in 1989.

Correspondents present in the collection include Norse's mother Mrs. Fanny Albaum, Michael Andre, George Clinton Andrews, Wyston Hugh Auden, James Baldwin, Anthony Barnett, Julian Beck, Sinclair Beiles, Carol Berge, Bill Berkson, Douglas Blazek, Paul Bowles, Adrian Brooks, Charles Bukowski, William Seward Burroughs, William Childress, Sheldon Cholst, Andrei Codrescu, Ira Cohen, John Hagy Davis, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Charles Henri Ford, Ira Friedlander, Jean Garrigue, Allen Ginsberg, Brian Glanville, E. V. Griffith, Paul Grillo, Brion Gysin, Jan Jacob Herman, Jack Hirschman, Chester Kallman, Erskine Lane, Julia Chanler Laurin, Thomas M. Livingston, Frances McCann, Gerard Joseph Malanga, Thomas Michael Maschler, Jack Micheline, Anais Nin, Harold Norse, Nancy J. Peters, Robert Louis Peters, Robert Peterson, Zina Rachevsky, Edouard Roditti, Ned Rorem, Craig Ralph Smith, Lawrence Perry Spingarn, Andre Spire, Jon Edgar Webb, Carl Weissner, Jonathan Chamberlain Williams, William Carlos Williams, Allan Davis Winans, and Thomas E. Wright.

Also present are 50 manuscript notebooks kept by Norse that include travel notes, diary notations, observations about the people with whom he was involved or working, and literary observations; manuscripts of both published and unpublished poetry and prose, many in draft form and some proofs and mock–ups for published books; a few manuscripts by other writers, particularly Jack Micheline and Tennessee Williams; Norse memorabilia including medical reports, passport, etc.; many photographs and snapshots, chiefly of Norse but also of several other writers and friends, as well as a number of photographs taken by Gerard Malanga; and the complete archive of Bastard Angel including correspondence, submitted manuscripts of poetry, articles, etc., proofs, and paste–ups. [Final issues of the magazine have been transferred to the Book Department for cataloging.]

There is a separate list of the Bastard Angel archive in the Vertical File, as well as a collection box inventory.

Collection size: 8,000 items

Related manuscripts: Norse mss. II

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.