News Release — May 28, 2001
Major Gift of Robert Lowell/Blair Clark Papers Arrives at the Ransom Center
The Ransom Center has acquired two major additions of Robert Lowell material to a large and comprehensive Lowell archive already housed at the Center. Robert Lowell (1917-1977) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet who received special notoriety during the1960s for his strong and vocal political views. His opposition of the Vietnam War and support of Eugene McCarthy paralleled those of some of the younger generation of that time and gained him a large following. His stance even earned him a place on a 1967 cover of Time Magazine, an uncommon milestone for a poet.
One of the acquisitions is the Clark/Lowell Papers (1928-2000). These papers represent Blair Clark's compilation of letters and other materials as they relate to Robert Lowell and reflect their close and long friendship, which lasted until Lowell's death in 1977. Blair Clark (1918-2000) was a journalist and democratic activist. Clark's second wife, Joanna Clark, upon the advice of the writer Elizabeth Hardwick (former wife of Robert Lowell), gave the collection to the Ransom Center. "Sorry about the shaggy appearance of the black box, but that's how it came to me, and I'm sending it off to you with a great deal of sadness," wrote Joanna R. Clark.
Robert Lowell and Blair Clark began a lifelong friendship while at boarding school together in the 1930s in Massachusetts that continued while both were studying at Harvard and through adulthood. Clark co-founded the New Hampshire Sunday News, joined CBS News and the CBS Radio Network, and eventually became the vice president and general manager of CBS News. Robert Lowell, a scion of poets, began as an editor and a teacher, became a translator and playwright, won a Pulitzer Prize at age thirty, and received numerous book awards by the end of his relatively short life at the age of sixty.
Included in this recent collection are several undated poems by Lowell, some in his own handwriting; correspondence (1938-1983) including letters between Clark and Lowell (from 1938-76) and between Clark and Jean Stafford, Elizabeth Hardwick, Ian Hamilton, Lowell's mother Charlotte, and others. This collection also contains numerous articles on Lowell, reviews of his works, and ephemera such as audio-cassette interviews, Lowell's obituaries, order of service for the funeral, and photographs of Jean Stafford.
A related collection of poetic drafts has also recently been acquired. These papers represent close to final versions of poems published in Lowell's collections History, a reworking of the three editions of Notebook, and The Dolphin.
These two newest acquisitions complement the extensive archive of Robert Lowell Papers (c. 1845-1988) that the Ransom Center originally acquired in 1982. These papers consist mainly of Lowell's working papers for the period 1970-1977 and document his evolving style during his last years. The majority of the papers are revised drafts of manuscripts, galleys, and page proofs for Notebook (1970), The Dolphin (1973), For Lizzie and Harriet (1973), History (1973), and Day by Day (1977). The correspondence from colleagues and friends deals in part with his divorce from Elizabeth Hardwick and subsequent marriage to Caroline Blackwood, and his controversial treatment of these events in his poetry.