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Glenway Wescott (1901-1987) was the author of novels, poetry, short stories, and essays. He met Katherine Anne Porter in Paris in the 1930s, and they remained friends for many years. Wescott's papers include several versions of the manuscript for a never-completed edition of some of Porter's letters. The book was titled Letters to a Circle of Friends 1933-1962: Thirty Years of Friendship and was to include correspondence from Porter, Wescott, Monroe Wheeler, Barbara Harrison Wescott, George Platt Lynes, and Russell Lynes. Originals of some of the letters are included in the manuscript collection, along with notes and miscellaneous published material by and about Porter.
Until 2019, no one may consult the correspondence of Glenway Wescott with W. Somerset Maugham, Alan Searle, and Wallace Stevens and the correspondence of Monroe Wheeler with Robin Maugham, W. Somerset Maugham, Nelson Rockelfeller, Alan Searle, and Wallace Stevens contained in Series 2 unless authorized by the Literary Trustee of the Estate of Katherine Anne Porter.
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.
29.25 Linear Feet
The Glenway Wescott collection includes four versions of the manuscript for the never-completed edition of the letters of Porter and her friends. The book, tentatively titled Letters to a Circle of Friends 1933-1962: Thirty Years of Friendship, was originally to include correspondence from Porter, Wescott, Monroe Wheeler, Barbara Harrison Wescott, George Platt Lynes, and Russell Lynes. As time passed, Wescott changed the scope of the book to include just the letters between himself and Katherine Anne Porter and finally only to selected letters of Katherine Anne Porter. The collection includes originals of some of the letters, along with notes and miscellaneous published material by and about Porter.
The collection spans the period from 1931 to 1977, with the bulk falling between 1932 and 1962. There are drafts of the planned edition of Porter's correspondence as well as notes, research materials, outlines, and other materials related to the project. It also includes originals and copies of correspondence exchanged between Katherine Anne Porter, Glenway Wescott, Monroe Wheeler, Barbara Harrison Wescott, Russell Lynes, George Platt Lynes, William Humphrey, Marianne Moore, W. Somerset Maugham, Robin Maugham, Wallace Stevens, Alan Searle, Eugene Pressly, Albert Erskine Jr., Nelson Rockefeller, Harold Ross, and William R. Ross.
Glenway Wescott was the author of novels, poetry, short stories, and essays. Born on a farm outside Kewaskum, Wisconsin, on April 11, 1901, he began his post-secondary studies at the University of Chicago in 1917 but only completed three semesters, because he contracted the Spanish flu in 1919. While recuperating, he made the acquaintance of and began a relationship with Monroe Wheeler, which lasted until Wescott's death in 1987.
After his health improved, Wescott moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and stayed with his friend Yvor Winters. While there, he produced a group of poems, The Bitterns, which was published by Monroe Wheeler in 1920. In late 1921, Wescott and Wheeler made their first trip to Europe. After returning to New York City with Monroe Wheeler in 1922, Wescott finished his first novel, The Apple of the Eye, published in 1924.
In 1925, Wescott and Wheeler returned to Europe and, in 1926, moved to Villefranche, in the south of France. In France, they became friends with many other artists, including W. Somerset Maugham, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jean Cocteau, Ford Madox Ford, and Isadora Duncan. Wescott published his second work of fiction, The Grandmothers, a series of sketches drawn from his early memories, in 1927. This was followed the next year by his collection of short stories, Good-bye Wisconsin.
Wescott lived with Wheeler in France through 1934, alternating between Villefranche and Paris with occasional trips to New York. During one of these trips to New York in 1927, they met photographer George Platt Lynes. Between 1930 and 1935, Wheeler published fine press editions of belle-lettres texts with Barbara Harrison under the Harrison of Paris imprint. Also, during this period, Katherine Anne Porter became friends with Wescott, Wheeler, Harrison, and Lynes. She remained friends and corresponded with them for many decades. Harrison of Paris published Katherine Anne Porter's French Song-Book in 1932 and Hacienda in 1934. In 1935, Barbara Harrison married Wescott's younger brother, Lloyd, and, with the dissolution of Harrison of Paris, the Wescotts and Wheeler moved back to the United States. Glenway Wescott and Wheeler set up households on a farm in New Jersey owned by Barbara Harrison and Lloyd Wescott and in various New York City apartments with George Platt Lynes.
After returning to the United States, Wescott continued to write, publishing The Pilgrim Hawk in 1940 and Apartment in Athens in 1945. Between 1945 and 1962, when he published Images of Truth: Remembrances and Criticism, Wescott lectured, wrote reviews and criticism, served as president of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and worked on a number of novels. In 1963, he began working on the Letters to a Circle of Friends 1933-1962: Thirty Years of Friendship, an edition of letters documenting the friendships among Katherine Anne Porter, Wescott, Monroe Wheeler, Barbara Harrison Wescott, George Platt Lynes, and Russell Lynes, brother of George Platt Lynes and editor of Harper's Magazine. The book was never completed. When Isabel Bayley became Katherine Anne Porter's literary trustee in 1983, Wescott gave all of the materials he had amassed for the project to Bayley, whose edition, Letters of Katherine Anne Porter, was published in 1990.
Wescott died on February 22, 1987.
The collection is organized as three series.
Isabel Bayley, Literary Trustee for the Estate of Katherine Anne Porter, deposited Glenway Wescott's collection of Katherine Anne Porter materials at the University of Maryland Libraries in 1984 and formally donated it to the University of Maryland Libraries in 1992. In 1994, W. Hewitt Bayley, Isabel Bayley's widower, donated the Glenway Wescott and Monroe Wheeler correspondence with W. Somerset Maugham, Alan Searle, Wallace Stevens, Robin Maugham and Nelson Rockefeller to the Libraries with his wife's papers.
The collection was processed in spring 2008. At that time, it was arranged into three series: "Letters to a Circle of Friends 1933-1962: Thirty Years of Friendship," "Correspondence," and "Additional Katherine Anne Porter-Related Material." The original order of the materials in the binders in which Glenway Wescott had housed the drafts of the edition of letters was maintained. This condition was imposed by Isabel Bayley when she donated the collection to the University of Maryland Libraries. However, because of the condition of the three-ring binders, these materials were rehoused in acid-free three-ring archival boxes to replicate, more or less, the original binders. Some of the archival boxes house the contents of two binders and have been labelled accordingly. All but two of the binders were labelled by Wescott, and his labels appear in the box inventory and in the archival boxes. Four additional folders of materials removed from the binders by Wescott were housed in an additional archival box.
Before processing, the letters in the correspondence series had been roughly arranged by correspondent. Wescott placed most of the letters into blue folders, which have been retained. There were separate blue folders for individual letters, and these folders housed original letters and/or transcribed copies. Identifying information was recorded on the folders. Duplicates of transcribed copies were discarded. The correspondence was arranged in the order enumerated in the description of Series I above.
The additional Porter-related materials were originally housed in unlabelled folders intermingled with the folders of correspondence. One folder titled "Katherine Anne Porter" included newspaper and journal articles both by and about Katherine Anne Porter. The contents of this folder were sorted into those by and about Katherine Anne Porter and arranged accordingly. All staples and paperclips were removed and replaced by plastic fasteners when necessary. The entire collection was placed in new acid-free folders and boxes.
Part of the Special Collections and University Archives