Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Pound mss. II, 1900-1973, consist primarily of letters sent to poet Ezra Loomis Pound, 1885-1972, and to his wife, Dorothy Shakespear Pound, 1886-1973. Ezra Pound was an expatriate American poet and critic and one of the leaders of the early modernist movement. Born in Idaho, he attended the University of Pennsylvania and went on to teach briefly at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana before traveling overseas and living in London, Paris, and Italy, then returning to the States in 1945. Pound went back to Italy in 1958 and died in Venice in 1972.

The collection is arranged into two series: I. Alphabetical Correspondence Files; II. Chronological Correspondence Files.

The majority of the correspondence, including drafts of Ezra or Dorothy Pound's responses, is dated between 1946 and 1958, or the years of Ezra's confinement in a federal mental institution, St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C. The earlier correspondence is miscellaneous and fragmentary, both in the writers represented and in the continuity of the letters. Of the pre-1946 material only the correspondence of Basil Bunting would appear to be a complete, or nearly complete, file. There are a few early letters from T.S. Eliot, Viola (Baxter) Jordan, James Laughlin, and one from William Carlos Williams, but the greater number of all of their letters date during the St. Elizabeths period. Most of the early items are addressed to Dorothy Pound and include medical bills and receipts, some banking and passport application records, and letters from the head mistress of the school in England that Pound's son Omar attended as a child. There are a few letters written to Dorothy prior to her marriage and some that were sent to her mother, Olivia Shakespear. Most notable in both these instances are letters from William Butler Yeats.

The St. Elizabeths correspondence is characterized by its diversity in writer and content, and by its bulk. Correspondents present in the files range from aspiring young poets seeking Pound's advice and counsel (e.g., Paul Blackburn, Robert Creeley, W.S. Merwin) to prominent authors with international reputations (Richard Aldington, Wyndham Lewis, Marianne Moore); from accomplished musicians, linguists and scholars, to young students, clerics, artists, and fanatics about one cause or another. It has been remarked that "the world came to Pound" in these years as total strangers, new acquaintances, and long-term colleagues and friends corresponded, and more often than not, visited him. They kept him in touch with, and informed about, the outside world even more than did his voluminous reading. The files are replete with requests for permission to visit him and with offers to bring or send along anything he might wish to have, particularly in the way of reading matter.

Not content with writing to Pound every few days, several of his correspondents enclosed letters written to them by other people. Many of these "third party" correspondents were unknown to Pound, but they frequently came into direct contact with him within a very short time of his reading their notes or comments. Felix Giovanelli, David Horton, Dallam Simpson, and George T. Slavin were particularly fond of forwarding the letters of others.

The primary arrangement of the collection is alphabetical by name of correspondent. Following this group are the chronologically arranged items dating from 1907-1973. Correspondents represented in the files include: Beatrice Abbott, Léonie Adams, Olivia (Rossetti) Agresti, Richard Aldington, Mary Barnard, Natalie Clifford Barney, Margaret Jane Bates, Sylvia Beach, Agnes Bedford, Montgomery Belgion, John Edgar Berry, William Augustus Bird, Elizabeth Bishop, Paul Blackburn, Douglas Geoffrey Bridson, Basil Bunting, Witter Bynner, Lina Caico, Huntington Cairns, Thomas H. Carter, Amiya Chandra Chakravarty, Cyril Clemens, Thomas Cole, William Cookson, Julien Cornell, Nancy Cox-McCormack, Hubert Creekmore, Robert Creeley, Edward Estlin Cummings, Marion (Morehouse) Cummings, Nancy Clara Cunard, Ruth E. Dickie, Hilda Doolittle, John Drummond, Louis Dudek, Robert Edward Duncan, Ronald Frederick Henry Duncan, Peter Francis du Sautoy, Ferdinand Pinney Earle, John Bowen Edwards, John Hamilton Edwards, Esmé Valerie (Fletcher) Eliot, Thomas Stearns Eliot, Clark Mixon Emery, Hugo R. Fack, Achilles Fang, Mark John Farrelly, James Finley, Rolf Gerhard Fjelde, Rudd Fleming, William French, Donald Clifford Gallup, Raymonde Gaspard-Michel, G. Dryden Gilling Smith, Felix Bruno Giovanelli, Giovanni Giovannini, James Herrick Gipson, Robert Giroux, David McCall Gordon, Edith Hamilton, Willis Meeker Hawley, Eva Hesse, Harriet Quick (Wynkoop) Hoover, David Horton, Marvine Henrietta Howe, William Howley, Raymond Hughes, Patricia Hutchins, Gladys Hynes, Kate Isherwood, Viola (Baxter) Jordan, James Joyce, John Kasper, Hugh Kenner, Katue Kitasono, Craig LaDrière, James Laughlin, Wyndham Lewis, Levi Robert Lind, Robert Lowell, Robert McAlmon, Robert Mercer MacGregor, Jackson MacLow, Herbert Marshall McLuhan, Edith A. Madge, Frederic Manning, Ida Bigler Mapel, Aida Juliette Mastrangelo, Harry Monroe Meacham, William Moelwyn Merchant, William Stanley Merwin, Arthur V. Moore, Frank Ledlie Moore, Marianne Moore, Virginia Moore, Frederick Morgan, Gerhart Muench, Vera Lawson Muench, Eustace Clarence Mullins, Barbara Norville, Edgar Obermer, Charles Olson, Nerina Pagliettini, D.D. Paige, Donald J. Paquette, J. Atherton Parkyn, Beulah (Busha) Patterson, Norman Holmes Pearson, Camillo Pellizzi, Dorothy (Shakespear) Pound, Ezra Loomis Pound, Homer Loomis Pound, Isabel (Weston) Pound, Sister Mary Bernetta Quinn, Kathleen Jessie Raine, Dachine Rainer, Forrest Godfrey Read, Michael Reck, John Reid, John Rodker, Walter Morse Rummel, Peter Russell, Raymond Murray Schafer, Giovanni Scheiwiller, John G. Scott, Laurence Scott, Bride (Adams) Scratton, Allan Seaton, Else Lübcke Seel, Charles Shuts, Dallam Simpson, George T. Slavin, Theodore Spencer, Noel Stock, Clara Studer, Henry S. Swabey, Tiffany Ellsworth Thayer, Ernest Tino Trova, Giambattista Vicari, Luigi Villari, Florence (Herman) Williams, William Carlos Williams, Elizabeth Winslow, Max Wykes-Joyce, Donald Wyman, Stéphâne de Yankowska, Stanislaw V. Yankowski, William Butler Yeats.

In addition to materials received by Dorothy or Ezra there are numerous notes, usually in Ezra's hand, directing responses to letters or just reacting to some statement in them. Occasionally these are marginal notations on the original letter; more often they are all but incoherent scribbles on envelopes or any scrap of paper immediately available. These notes may be found with the correspondence of the intended recipient in Ezra Pound's file in the alphabetical arrangement and in the "correspondence notes" near the end of the collection. Several folders of miscellaneous materials, including pieces of art work, music, photographs and some printed items, complete this main body of the collection.

The final section of the collection consists of a group of letters, 1919-1940, from Ezra Pound (a few are from Dorothy Pound) to musician Agnes Bedford, -1969. Bedford, a long-time friend of the Pounds, collaborated with Ezra on musical compositions. Many of the letters reflect their mutual interests and their work together during the 1920's and 30's. This file does not relate to those letters from Bedford to the Pounds that are in the main portion of the collection.

An inventory and a finding aid are available.

Purchase. Estate of Dorothy Shakespear Pound. 1982

Collection size: 11,486 items

Related manuscripts: Pound mss., Pound mss. III, Pound mss. IV, Pound mss. V, Pound mss. VII, Pound mss. VI

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.