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Collection Overview

Gordon, Caroline, 1895-1981
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Caroline Gordon Papers
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1868-1995 (mostly 1926-1979)
58 boxes
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Boxes 1-57; B-001753


Caroline Gordon (1895-1981) was an American author. This collection consists of manuscripts of Gordon's work, including novels, lectures, and poetry. It also includes correspondence with authors and family members, writings of others, and photographs.

Collection Description & Creator Information


The papers consist of correspondence and manuscripts of most of Caroline Gordon's published works, as well as some unpublished manuscripts, dating mainly from the 1930s to the 1970s. There are typescripts, often with autograph corrections, for ten novels, two nonfiction works, an anthology, 28 short stories, approximately 21 lectures, 20 essays, a play, several poems, and a transcribed series of dreams. Notable works are The Glory of Hera, The Malefactors, None Shall Look Back and How to Read a Novel. Also included are documents, photographs, journals in which her stories and articles appeared, clippings, papers of other persons, containing manuscripts of Ashley Brown, Charles Hallett, Stark Young, and others, and correspondence of her daughter, Nancy Tate Wood.

General correspondence contains letters of such literary figures as Malcolm Cowley, Ford Madox Ford, Jacques Maritain, Flannery O'Conner, Katherine Anne Porter, and Allen Tate, also letters from the University of Dallas where Miss Gordon taught as writer in residence, editors, literary critics, other authors and friends. Family correspondence holds letters from the Gordons, Meriwethers and other family members dating from the 1860s to letters from her grandchildren in the 1970s. Among the additional materials (Series 8) is a significant number of letters from Gordon to various family members, such as her Aunt "Pidie," spanning six decades.


Organized into the following series:

Collection Creator Biography:

Gordon, Caroline, 1895-1981

Caroline Ferguson Gordon was an American teacher, literary critic and novelist. Born on October 6, 1895, she grew up on a farm in Kentucky. Gordon graduated from Bethany College in West Virginia, in 1916 and began her career working as a writer for the Chattanooga Reporter until 1924. In 1925 she married Allen Tate, a poet and literary critic associated with the Southern Agrarian literary movement. Together they pursued their careers in writing, forging close bonds with other writers such as Robert Lowell, Hart Crane, Flannery O'Connor and Katherine Anne Porter. In 1931, Caroline published her first novel, Penhally, and in 1934 released her most popular work Aleck Maury, Sportsman. "Old Red," her best known story, published in Scribner's Magazine, was awarded a second-place O. Henry Award in 1934. She also received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1932. Her relationship with Tate grew volatile, and they divorced, remarried, and finally divorced permanently in 1959. Caroline continued to move around the country throughout her life, living at various times in North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, and Washington state. In 1978 she moved to San Cristóbal de las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico, to be with her daughter and died there on April 11, 1981.

Collection History


Additional correspondence and the 1934 pastel portrait of Caroline Gordon by R. Chavanne were gifts of Margaret Henry and Dabney Carden in December 2011 .

The "Secret Sentimental Map of the 'Old Neighborhood'" (Box 57) was transferred from the General Manuscripts Miscellaneous Collection (C0140).

Archival Appraisal Information:

No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information:

This collection was processed by Barbara Volz and Jill Baron in 1984 and 2012, respectively. Finding aid written by Barbara Volz and Jill Baron in 1984 and 2012. Alyxandra Cullen '09 contributed to the biographical note. In 2021, Amy C. Vo added material to the Loose Notebooks subseries, and provided additional description.

Access & Use

Access Restrictions:

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions for Reproduction and Use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Credit this material:

Caroline Gordon Papers; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184

Find More

Related Material:

Additional materials relating to Caroline Gordon may be found in the following collections:

Caroline Gordon Collection (C0806)

Ashley Brown Collection of Caroline Gordon (C0249)

Caroline Gordon Letters to Morris Gordon (C0578)

Allen Tate Papers (C0106)

Allen Tate Collection (C0648)

Allen Tate Correspondence with Brewster Ghiselin (C0759)

Allen Tate Correspondence with Charles Foster (C0073)

MASC Master Author Index

Subject Terms:
American fiction -- 20th century.
American literature -- Catholic authors -- 20th century.
Catholic converts -- United States -- 20th century.
Creative writing (Higher education) -- Study and teaching -- Texas -- Irving -- 20th century.
Creative writing (Higher education) -- Texas -- Irving -- Curricula -- 20th century.
Editors -- United States -- 20th century.
Fiction -- Technique.
Novelists, American -- 20th century.
Short stories, American -- 20th century.
Women novelists, American -- 20th century.
Genre Terms:
Gordon family