Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Weaver, W. mss. II, 1833-2006, consist of the correspondence, writings, research, photographs, and teaching materials pertaining to the life and work of William Fense Weaver (b. 1923 - d. 2013). Weaver was born July 24, 1923 in Washington, D.C. to Henry Byrne and Beatrice Weaver. He graduated summa cum laude with his B.A. from Princeton University in 1946. Weaver withdrew from Princeton in good standing on November 16, 1942 in order to enter the Armed Forces of the United States, where he served as an ambulance driver in North Africa and Italy. Prior to conducting his postgraduate work at the University of Rome in 1949, Weaver was an English instructor at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. In the years to follow, he would produce several English translations for Italian works such as, Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose and Baudolino, Italo Calvino's Cosmicomics, Primo Levi's If Not Now, When?, Italo Svevo's Zeno's Conscience, Alberto Moravia and Alain Elkann's Life of Moravia, Elsa Morante's History: A Novel, and many others. Weaver has been granted many awards for his translations; among them are the Translation Prize from the P.E.N. American Center for the English translation of Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose in 1984, National Book Award for translation for Italo Calvino's Comicomics in 1969, and the John Florio Translation Prize from the Translation Association for the translation of Pier Paolo Pasolini's novel A Violent Life in 1968.

Weaver is also known for his work on opera and Eleonora Duse. He produced works such as Verdi Librettos, Puccini Librettos, Seven Verdi Librettos, and Seven Puccini Librettos, as well as providing single libretto translations for live performances. A well-known opera critic, Weaver wrote opera reviews for the Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, and Panorama; he was also a speaker on Texaco-sponsored Saturday afternoon opera broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera House. Among his several biographies and opera histories are Duse: A Biography, The Golden Century of Italian Opera from Rossini to Puccini, The Verdi Companion, Verdi: A Documentary Study, and A Legacy of Excellence, The Story of Villa I Tatti.

Later in his life, Weaver delivered many lectures and conducted translating workshops and courses at several American and Italian institutions, including Princeton, Yale, Pisa, Duke, Oxford, and the University of Rome. He was a professor of literature and a Bard Center Fellow at Bard College in New York. He was known by his students for being a generous host of class get-togethers at his house, where he would cook delicious meals. (A copy of Weaver's Joy of Cooking with his annotations is included in his book collection.) Honorary degrees were awarded to Weaver from the University of Leicester in the UK, and Trinity College in Connecticut.

The collection is organized into the following series: I. Correspondence; II. Writings; III. Articles and Clippings; IV. Diaries; V. Photographs; VI. Opera Programs; VII. Bard Course Materials; VIII. Honors and Awards; IX. Address Books; X. Audio/Visual Materials; XI. Miscellaneous Items; XII. Framed Items.

Correspondents include: Umberto Eco; Elsa Morante; Darryl Pinckney; Ned Rorem; Winston Silcott; Darina Silone; publishers; institutions and organizations.

Writings include: Fiction; Non-Fiction; Translations; Lectures; Writings not by Weaver. Within each of these subseries are edited typescripts, edited galley proofs, and research materials.

Photographs include: American Academy of Arts and Letters members; Mikhail Baryshnikov; Leonard Bernstein; Maria Callas; Charles Clarke; Aaron Copland; Charles Darden; Elvira Green; Giuseppe Patroni Griffi; Jarmilla Novotna; Bidu Sayao; William Weaver; Weaver family.

Books in the collection are catalogued in IUCAT.

An inventory and finding aid are available.

Acquired: 2009

Collection size: 6,000 items

Related manuscripts: Weaver, W. mss.

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.