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Atlantic Monthly records

 Collection 0057-LIT

The Atlantic Monthly Press was founded in 1917 as the publishing division of the Atlantic Monthly Company. The press was originally envisioned by Editor Ellery Sedwick as a vehicle for publishing books based on articles and essays originally printed in the Atlantic Monthly magazine, but struggled in its early years and was eventually acquired as an imprint by Little, Brown and Co. The press was responsible for publishing Katherine Anne Porter's Ship of Fools (1962) and The Never Ending Wrong (1977), and many of the staff members of the press, such as Associate Editor Seymour Lawrence, were friends and confidantes of Porter. The collection consists primarily of correspondence with Katherine Anne Porter, as well as with people and institutions involved with the production and promotion of her work. Also included in the collection are articles and clippings relating to Porter, invoices, and royalty statements.


  • 1966-1980
  • Majority of material found within 1976-1980

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

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.


0.25 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The archives of Atlantic Monthly Press span the years 1966 to 1980. Much of the collection consists of correspondence with Katherine Anne Porter, as well as individuals and institutions involved in the promotion and publication of Porter's work. Additionally, the collection includes articles and clippings, invoices, and royalty statements.

Biographical / Historical

The Atlantic Monthly Press was founded in 1917 as the publishing division of the Atlantic Monthly Company, publishers of the Atlantic Monthly magazine. Ellery Sedwick, editor of the Atlantic Monthly from 1909 to 1938, envisioned the press as a means to publish books expanded from articles and stories originally published in the Atlantic Monthly. The press had few best sellers, and, in 1925, Little, Brown and Company acquired the Atlantic Monthly Press through a merger arranged by Sedwick. In "After 50 Years, People Still Ask What is the Atlantic Monthly Press?" Peter Davison described the relationship between the press and Little, Brown and Co.: "The Atlantic Monthly Press solicits and procures books which are then published by Little, Brown and Co. in association with the Atlantic Monthly Co. These are two distinct corporations: no employee of one is an employee of another" (Publishers Weekly, Oct. 16, 1967). The involvement of Little, Brown and Co. in the press was limited to copy editing, printing, and publicity.

Under Little, Brown, the press had more success with books such as Good-Bye, Mr. Chips (1934) and Drums Along the Mohawk (1936). However, not until the 1950s and 1960s did the press finally achieve financial and critical success with a series of critically acclaimed bestsellers. Among the books that led to this success was Katherine Anne Porter's Ship of Fools (1962). Originally Porter's contract to write the novel was with Harcourt, Brace, but, in the mid 1950s, Atlantic Monthly Press's associate editor Seymour Lawrence convinced Porter to change publishers. Lawrence was closely involved with Porter as she worked to complete the novel that had been in progress for over twenty-five years. In Katherine Anne Porter: A Sense of the Times (1996), Janis P. Stout describes Lawrence's role in the completion of Ship of Fools as "a remarkable instance of literary midwifery." Without his devotion to Porter and her work, it is unlikely that Ship of Fools would ever have been completed.

Atlantic Monthly Press also published Porter's The Never-Ending Wrong (1977), the account of her participation in the demonstrations associated with the executions of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti in 1927. In 1993, Atlantic Monthly merged with Grove Press to form Grove/Atlantic, Inc.


The materials are organized in one series

Series 1

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The Archives of the Atlantic Monthly Press came to the University of Maryland Libraries through the efforts of Peter Davison in January 2002. In 1986 the then-owner of the Atlantic Monthly, Morton Zuckerman, sold the book division of the Atlantic Monthly Company to Carl Navarre, who in turn sold the press to Morgan Entrekin in 1991. Entrekin tired of warehousing the archives and subsequently returned the materials to Atlantic Monthly at the request of its staff. Since their return, Davison has placed these archival materials with institutions housing the major archives of the individual authors. Davison was director of the Atlantic Monthly Press from 1964 to 1979 and senior editor from 1979 to 1985. From 1964 until Porter's death, Davison was responsible for maintaining relations with Porter and Atlantic Monthly Press. He has also edited and published books with Houghton Mifflin under the Peter Davison Books imprint (1985-1998). In 2002, he was the poetry editor of the Atlantic Monthly.

Related Material

Materials related to the Atlantic Monthly Press Papers can be found in the Papers of Katherine Anne Porter, the Papers of Seymour Lawrence, the Papers of Cyrilly Abels, and the Papers of Paul Porter in the Special Collections of the University of Maryland Libraries. Additional materials can be found in the Seymour Lawrence Publishing Archive at the University of Mississippi Department of Special Collections and the Seymour Lawrence Files related to Kurt Vonnegut at the University of Delaware Department of Special Collections.

Processing Information

Staples were removed from the materials, and newspaper clippings were photocopied onto acid-free paper. The original chronological arrangement of the correspondence was retained. The collection was placed in acid-free folders and housed in an acid-free box.

Guide to the records of Atlantic Monthly
Processed and guide compiled by Jessica Ford Cameron.
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