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Frances McCullough papers

 Collection 0071-LIT

Frances McCullough has been an editor of poetry for several major writers of the mid- to late-twentieth century, as well as an author and editor of cookbooks. She was awarded the first PEN/Roger Klein Award for Editing in 1971, and worked as an editor at Harper & Row from the early 1960s through the late 1970s and at Dial Press and Bantam Books through the 1980s. Her papers document her work as a poetry editor and include correspondence with authors about their work, as well as manuscripts, notes, and proofs that document the creative and practical aspects of the editing and publication process. Her correspondents include Yehuda Amichai, Kathleen Fraser, Olwyn Hughes, Ted Hughes, Laura (Riding) Jackson, N. Scott Momaday, and W. D. Snodgrass. McCullough’s papers also contain materials she assembled for a book on Djuna Barnes, with whom she developed a friendship late in Barnes’ life.


  • Majority of material found within 1971-1993
  • 1915-2007

Use and Access to Collection

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

This collection contains restricted material, please check the series and folder listings for additional information.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.


16.25 Linear Feet (9 Paige boxes, 1 photograph preservation album box, 1 oversize box, 1 half-Hollinger box )

1 Tape Reels : 1/4" open-reel audio tape ; Tape width: 1/4" Reel diameter: 7"

1 Sound Cassettes : compact cassette

3 Items : Suitcase, hat, and temporary urn

Scope and Contents

The Frances McCullough papers cover the period 1915-2007, with the bulk created between 1971 and 1993. They contain correspondence, manuscripts, proofs, proposals, and other publication elements that document the creative and practical aspects of the editing and publication processes McCullough oversaw as an editor. Additional materials include photographs of writers, drawings by writers and artists with whom McCullough worked, sound recordings of writers reading their work, and McCullough’s research and drafts for a book on Djuna Barnes. The papers also contain items that belonged to Djuna Barnes, and which McCullough acquired from her.

Biographical / Historical

Frances Monson McCullough was born in 1938 in Quantico, Virginia. She graduated with a Bachelor of the Arts from Stanford University in 1960 and completed post-graduate work at Brandeis, where she studied under A. Alvarez from 1960-1961. In 1963 McCullough began working as an editor at Harper & Row, where she stewarded the publication of N. Scott Momaday’s House Made of Dawn, which won the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction in 1969. She also worked as editor for the U.S. publication of Sylvia Plath’s Ariel poems and The Bell Jar. McCullough went on to work with the Hughes and Plath families to edit posthumous collections of Plath’s work, including Letters Home and The Journals of Sylvia Plath, the latter for Dial Press. In 1971 McCullough won the first PEN/Roger Klein Award for Editing.

McCullough began working at Dial Press in 1980, and moved to Bantam Books in 1986. She was the editor for the reissue of Djuna Barnes’ The Ladies' Almanack and for Barnes' final work, Creatures in an Alphabet, published in 1982. She also helped Barnes organize and sell her papers, and developed a friendship with her late in Barnes’ life.

Around this time, McCullough began work, in collaboration with scholar Mary Lynn Broe, on a book about Djuna Barnes. The planned book, to be entitled Cold Comfort, was to include excerpts from Barnes' notebooks and correspondence, and anecdotes about encounters with Barnes and her circle. However, the book was never completed.

In the 1990s McCullough began writing and editing cookbooks. After self-diagnosing a blood clot and editing Protein Power, by Doctors Michael and Mary Dan Eades, she promoted healthful eating by writing and editing several low-carb cookbooks. She and her co-author Barbara Witt won a James Beard Cookbook award for Great Food Without Fuss in 1993.

Her most recent work as a writer was for Dora Charles’ A Real Southern Cook, published in 2015. She currently lives in Hastings-on-Hudon, New York, with her husband, David Willis McCullough.


The papers are arranged as nine series:

Series 1
Series 2
Writings of Others
Series 3
Series 4
Series 5
Author Files
Series 6
Series 7
Audio Materials
Series 8
Oversize Drawings and Printed Materials
Series 9
Djuna Barnes Memorabilia

Custodial History

Frances McCullough donated her papers to University of Maryland Libraries in 2007. She made a subsequent, smaller donation of materials in 2008.

Related Materials

University of Maryland Special Collections holds several collections with connections to McCullough's papers, including the Djuna Barnes papers, which McCullough used for her research on Barnes and her circle.

Separated Materials

Books that McCullough donated with her papers were transferred to Special Collections. A list of the books was retained in a preliminary inventory and is available upon request. One piece of correspondence that was enclosed in a book (a letter from Tess Gallagher) was retained in the papers.

Processing Information

Some processing work was done upon donation around 2008. At that time, materials were placed into acid-free folders. The extent to which these folders and folder titles reflect McCullough’s original files, and the extent to which they reflect interventions by the archivist, is unknown.

Further processing of the collection took place in 2019. At that time, the folders and folder titles from the pior processing stage were, for the most part, maintained, and grouped into the series in the present arrangement. A small portion of other folder titles were also revised to more accurately describe the contents.

One exception is a group of letters that were in a folder labelled “Correspondence -- Miscellaneous.” This contained letters related to McCullough’s research on Djuna Barnes. During full processing, the letters were kept grouped together and sorted by correspondent, then date. For ease of access, they were divided into two folders which are now labelled "Correspondence about Djuna Barnes letters."

During pre-processing, rusted paper clips were replaced with plastic clips and photographs were placed in Mylar sleeves. Drawings by N. Scott Momaday were placed in Mylar sleeves during full processing.

Guide to the Frances McCullough papers
Processed by Adam Gray.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

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