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Mr. and Mrs. John A. and Catherine Prince papers

 Collection 0038-LIT

John Prince (1922-2011) developed friendships with several artists and writers during and after World War II. He received his master's arts degree from the University of Missouri in 1950, and taught there for a brief time. After a career in catering, he entered real estate. In 1954, he boarded with Marcella Comes Winslow, a Washington artist and friend of Katherine Anne Porter. Prince met Porter through his association with Winslow and was Porter's neighbor and friend in Georgetown from 1959 to 1962. He and his wife corresponded regularly with her for several years after that. The collection contains correspondence, financial and legal documents, photographs, and published copies of Porter's books.


  • 1957-1978
  • Majority of material found within 1957-1965

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.


0.25 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The Prince papers include materials dating from 1957 to 1978. The collection contains correspondence, photographs, financial records, legal documents, and books relating to the Princes' relationship with Katherine Anne Porter.


John Prince was born on November 12, 1922, in Norfolk, Virginia. He began his undergraduate studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before World War II but broke them off to enlist in the Army paratroopers. After the war, he returned to Chapel Hill where he completed his degree in English. Mr. Prince developed friendships with several prominent American writers during and after the war, including Caroline Gordon, Allen Tate, and Eudora Welty. After spending almost a year in England, Prince settled in New York City in 1948. He was employed there until he enrolled in graduate school at the University of Missouri. After receiving his Master of Arts degree in English in 1950, he taught at the university for several years. Discouraged by his low teaching salary, Prince, who had developed an interest in cooking, went to Europe to study at the Cordon Bleu. When he returned to the United States in 1954, he settled in Washington, D.C.

Caroline Gordon had advised Prince to locate in Washington, and she arranged for him to board with Marcella Comés Winslow, a Washington artist with whom Katherine Anne Porter had lived in 1944. Prince began work in catering, through which he met Catherine Graves, whom he married in 1955. Catherine, a graduate of Bryn Mawr, was born on May 26, 1927, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where her father was completing his Ph.D. at Harvard University. He accepted a position at the American Council of Learned Societies after receiving his degree, moving his family to Washington, D.C. Aside from her college years, Catherine Prince has lived the remainder of her life in Washington.

The Princes met Katherine Anne Porter through Marcella Comés Winslow in the 1950s and developed a warm friendship that was nurtured by correspondence and occasional visits. In 1959, Porter moved to the Georgetown section of Washington, where she rented a house near the Princes until 1962.

After the publication of Porter's best-selling novel, Ship of Fools, in April 1962, she decided to settle permanently in Washington, D.C. At her request in late 1963, Mr. Prince acted on her behalf to locate a house for her to purchase. Their friendship abruptly terminated in January 1964 as a result of the subsequent failed real estate transaction. John and Catherine Prince continued to live in Washington, where Mr. Prince remained active in real estate. John Prince died on February 11, 2011.


The materials have been divided into four series.

Series 1
Series 2
Financial and Legal Documents
Series 3
Series 4

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

Mr. and Mrs. Prince donated their papers to the University of Maryland at College Park Libraries on December 16, 1982.

Related Material

Materials related to the Papers of Mr. and Mrs. Prince may be found in Series I: Correspondence of the Papers of Katherine Anne Porter. This series contains personal correspondence between Porter and John and Catherine Prince, between Porter and Allen Tate, and between Porter and Katherine and Francis Biddle. Related materials may also be found within the legal and financial correspondence of Porter between 1960 and 1964. Some of these items duplicate those in the Prince collection, while others mention the failed real estate transaction that terminated the friendship between Porter and the Princes.

Other related materials may be found at Princeton University's Firestone Library which is the repository for the papers of Caroline Gordon and Allen Tate, who were friends of Porter, the Princes, and the Biddles.

Processing Information

When processing of the Princes' papers began in September 1996, the collection was arranged by type of material. The processing consisted mainly of arranging the items chronologically within each series. Four newsclippings about Porter were removed from the collection and discarded, because duplicates of the items can be found in Series VI: Clippings in the Papers of Katherine Anne Porter. All materials were placed in acid-free folders and boxes.

Guide to the Mr. and Mrs. John A. and Catherine Prince papers
Processed by: Michelle DeMartino, October 1996.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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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