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Agents and Publishing Activities, 1918-1978 and n.d.


This subseries consists of all correspondence directly related to Porter's writing and publishing activities, including that with domestic and foreign book publishers, editors and other employees of popular and literary periodicals, literary agents, translators, television stations, companies that made audio recordings of Porter reading from her works, movie companies for whom she worked as a screenwriter, publishers and authors who contacted her for permission to quote from or use both her published and her unpublished works, requests for her support for new literary reviews and periodicals, and requests that she review books.

Materials are arranged alphabetically by corporate or personal name. When corporate names changed over time (i.e., Harcourt, Brace and Company, Inc.; Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc.; Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.), all the variant names appear in the entry. Names of employees with whom Porter corresponded are listed alphabetically under the corporate names. Several individuals appear under more than one corporate entity, most notably Seymour Lawrence. Others such as John Malcolm Brinnin, Eleanor Clark, and Donald Elder, also appear in the Subseries 4, personal correspondence, if their relationship changed from primarily professional to primarily personal. Two groups of materials, Publishing Activities and Permissions, are chronologically arranged and appear at the end. These consist of short correspondence, review requests, contacts from small publishers, and notes that accompanied books or galleys sent to Porter.

There are numerous documents relating to Porter's work prior to 1930, including correspondence with Freeman, Houston Chronicle, Alfred Knopf Publishing Company, New Masses, New Republic, New York Herald Tribune--Books, Pan American Bulletin, Rocky Mountain News, Saturday Review of Literature, Survey [Graphic], and Transition.

The group includes correspondence with her translators Margaret I. Norton, Franz Schonberner, and Marcelle Sibon. There is also Porter's correspondence with her agents Cyrilly Abels, James Brown (James Brown Associates), Ned Brown (Ned Brown Associated Agency and General Artists Corporation), Joan Daves, Helga Greene (Helga Greene Literary Agency), Brian Hall, Jeff Hunter, and Diarmuid Russell (Russell & Volkening, Inc.).

Porter's correspondence with Cyrilly Abels, the largest in this group with a single individual (more than 1.25 linear_feet), is a mix of personal and professional correspondence but is placed here because their relationship was based on their professional interaction. Although Abels was managing editor of Mademoiselle before she became an independent literary agent, her correspondence is retained as one unbroken group to document their twenty-five year relationship. Abels's office files were probably sent to Porter sometime after Abels's death in 1975. The correspondence includes not only Abels's letters to Porter, with their enclosures, and the carbons of Porter's outgoing letters to her, but the original letters sent to Abels. There are also carbon or photostat copies of letters Abels wrote to other editors and publishers in the course of conducting Porter's business; they are retained here in the same chronological sequence for completeness.

Another large correspondence group is with Harcourt, Brace and Company, Inc., and its successors. Exchanges between Porter and Catherine Carver, Donald Brace, and Alfred Harcourt are especially comprehensive.

Her correspondence with Donald Elder, in the Doubleday & Co. section, extends only until 1947, when he left Doubleday to write his Ring Lardner biography. All post- 1947 correspondence can be found in Subseries 4.

Porter's correspondence with Seymour Lawrence is included in the Atlantic Monthly Press; Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.; and Delacorte Press/Seymour Lawrence, Inc., groupings. This material provides extensive information on their relationship and on the process of publishing and promoting Ship of Fools.

Other notable exchanges include those with American folk singer Peter Seeger about his use of one of the songs from Katherine Anne Porter's French Song-Book; with Lambert Davis (University of North Carolina Press) about her opinion of William Nance's book, Katherine Anne Porter and the Art of Rejection; with Shenandoah, which has notes on her first impression of T. S. Eliot; and with the Saturday Review of Literature, where she comments extensively on Ezra Pound.

Additional materials related to items in this subgroup may be found in Series II: Writings; Series IV: Financial and Legal; Series VI: Clippings; Series VIII: Serials; Series X: Audio Recordings; and Series XII: Photographs.


  • 1918-1978 and n.d.

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open to the public, non-circulating, and must be used in the Special Collections Reading Room. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.


8.50 Linear Feet

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742