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Collection Overview

Cozzens, James Gould, 1903-1978
James Gould Cozzens Papers, 1878-1978
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1878-1978 (mostly 1940-1969)
50 boxes and 22.50 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Boxes 1-44; 46-51


The collection illustrates the literary and military careers of James Gould Cozzens in manuscripts, notebooks, diaries (1920-1970), war journals (1911-1945), correspondence (general, family, and business), documents, memorabilia, clippings, and photographs.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection illustrates the literary and military careers of Cozzens in manuscripts, notebooks, diaries (1920-1970), war journals (1911-1945), correspondence (general, family, and business), documents, memorabilia, clippings, and photographs. Ten of his novels Ask Me Tomorrow, By Love Possessed, Castaway, Guard of Honor, The Just and the Unjust, The Last Adam, Men and Brethren, Morning Noon and Night, Son of Perdition, S. S. San Pedro—as well as short stories, poetry, articles, and introductions, are represented by drafts, typescripts with author's corrections, and/or galleys.

Cozzens's correspondence with his mother, Bertha Wood Cozzens, covers almost 40 years (1917-1953); other correspondents include Carlos Baker, Saul Bellow, Matthew Bruccoli, Erskine Caldwell, Granville Hicks, William Jovanovich, Oliver La Farge, Richard M. Ludwig, Arthur Mizener, and John O'Hara. Also included is military material, such as transcripts of press conferences, correspondence, manuals, and Cozzens's Air Force file.

In addition, there are seventeen letters to John Abbott regarding problems with the publisher B. J. Brimmer & Co. (1924-1926), fourteen letters and one postcard to Richard M. Ludwig (1957-1975), two letters to Pat Lawler (1958), and one lettter to Pearson (1968).

Abbreviations used, mostly in correspondence:

JGC: James Gould Cozzens (had a great-uncle by the same name; is clearly marked as such)

BWC: (Mary) Bertha Wood Cozzens (1875-1953) JGC's mother

MEW: Mary Eliza Wood JGC's maternal grandmother

HWC: Henry William Cozzens, Jr. (1866-1920) JGC's father

Note: JGC married Sylvia Bernice Baumgarten. She is sometimes referred to as Sylvia and other times referred to as Bernice. Her professional name (as a literary agent) was "Bernice Baumgarten".

Collection Creator Biography:

Cozzens, James Gould, 1903-1978

James Gould Cozzens (1903-1978), author of fourteen novels and numerous short stories, was born in Chicago, Illinois. He attended the Kent School, and after his graduation in 1922 he went on to Harvard University. While attending Harvard, he published his first novel, Confusion, in 1924. A few months later, he withdrew from Harvard for reasons of health and finances. He moved to New Brunswick, Canada, where he wrote his next novel, Michael Scarlett. Like Confusion, it was not well received. He relocated to Cuba, where he began to write short stories. His experiences there provided material for later stories and novels, but he resigned after only a brief period as he felt that his writing career was stagnating. Though he published two more novels, his career did not improve until 1927, when he married Sylvia Bernice Baumgarten, a literary agent who successfully guided his career for the rest of her life.

Cozzens published ten more novels and a volume of short stories entitled Children and Others. He was a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters and won many awards, including the O. Henry Award in 1931 for "A Farewell to Cuba" and again in 1936 for "Total Stranger," the Pulitzer Prize in 1949 for Guard of Honor, and the William Dean Howells medal in 1960 for By Love Possessed. However, none of his works achieved great success or popularity and Cozzens increasingly withdrew from society. As the years went on, he displayed a loss of appetite for living and an interest in suicide which pervaded his diaries. In 1978, he died in a hospital in Stuart, Florida, of cancer of the spine.

1903 Born on August 19 in Chicago, Illinois 1916 Entered the Kent School 1922 Graduated from Kent School; entered Harvard University 1924 Published Confusion; withdrew from Harvard University 1925 Published Michael Scarlett 1927 Married Sylvia Bernice Baumgarten 1928 Published Cock Pit 1929 Published Son of Perdition 1931 Published S.S. San Pedro; received O. Henry Award for "A Farewell to Cuba" 1933 Published The Last Adam 1934 Published Castaway 1936 Published Men and Brethren; received O. Henry Award for "Total Stranger" 1940 Published Ask Me Tomorrow 1942 Published The Just and the Unjust 1948 Published Guard of Honor 1949 Pulitzer Prize for Guard of Honor 1957 Published By Love Possessed 1960 William Dean Howells Medal for By Love Possessed 1964 Published Children and Others, a volume of short stories 1968 Published Morning Noon and Night 1978 Died on August 9 in Stuart, Florida

Collection History


The collection developed from numerous gifts from James Gould Cozzens beginning in 1957 and continuing till 1970 .


No appraisal information is available.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

James Gould Cozzens Papers, 1878-1978; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Boxes 1-44; 46-51

Find More


Manuscripts of Cozzens found in the collection came to print in the following publications: Ask Me Tomorrow (NY: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1940), By Love Possessed (NY: Harcourt, 1957), Castaway (NY: Random House, 1934), Children and Others (NY: Harcourt, 1964), Cock Pit (NY: W. Morrow & Company, 1928), Confusion (Boston: B. J. Brimmer Company, 1924), Guard of Honor (NY: Harcourt, 1948), The Just and the Unjust (NY: Harcourt, 1942), The Last Adam (NY: Harcourt, 1933), Men and Brethren (NY: Harcourt, 1936), Morning Noon and Night (NY: Harcourt, 1968), S.S. San Pedro (NY: Harcourt, 1931), The Son of Perdition (NY: W. Morrow, 1929).

Subject Terms:
American fiction -- 20th century.
Authors, American -- 20th century -- Diaries.
Mothers and sons -- United States -- 20th century.
Novelists, American -- 20th century.
Genre Terms:
American diaries -- 20th century.
Correspondence -- 20th century
Fiction -- 20th century.
Journals -- 20th century.
Notebooks -- 20th century
United States. Air Force
Cozzens, Bertha Wood, d. 1953.