Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Tate, Allen, 1899-1979
Allen Tate Papers
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1909-1979 (mostly 1950-1979)
72 boxes and 29.4 linear feet
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Box 1-72


Consists of extensive manuscripts, documents, and correspondence of American poet and literary critic Allen Tate, one of the leading members of the Fugitive and Southern Agrarian literary movements.

Collection Description & Creator Information


The collection consists of manuscripts, documents, and correspondence of Tate, a leading member of the Fugitive and Southern Agrarian literary movements. Among the manuscripts are typed drafts of The Fathers, galleys and page proofs for On the Limits of Poetry, a draft of an unfinished biography of Robert E. Lee, and drafts and printer's copies of Poems 1920-1945: A Selection, as well as addresses, essays, and poems. Tate corresponded with many well-known poets and authors, including John Berryman, Hart Crane, e. e. cummings, T. S. Eliot, John Gould Fletcher, F. O. Matthiessen, Ezra Pound, John Crowe Ransom, Theodore Roethke, Delmore Schwartz, Karl Shapiro, Louis Untermeyer, Mark Van Doren, Robert Penn Warren, John Hall Wheelock, Oscar Williams, William Carlos Williams, Edmund Wilson, Yvor Winters, and Stark Young. In addition to Tate's own works, the collection contains poetry manuscripts by Princeton students and graduates, which Tate selected for his anthology Princeton Verse Between Two Wars, and an early draft, entitled "Proud Flesh," of All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren.

Collection Creator Biography:

Tate, Allen, 1899-1979

(John Orley) Allen Tate (1899-1979), poet, critic, and professor of letters from the American South, was born on November 19 in Winchester, Kentucky. In 1918, he was admitted to Vanderbilt University, where he excelled, earning top honors and membership in Phi Beta Kappa. He became the only undergraduate admitted to membership in the Fugitives, an informal group of Southern intellectuals which exerted considerable influence on American letters throughout the 1920s and 1930s. In 1924, Tate married Caroline Gordon, a novelist. They had one child, and he later divorced her to marry Isabella Stewart Gardner. He then divorced Gardner to marry Helen Heinz, with whom he had three children.

Though he lived in France from 1928-1932 in the company of such writers as Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein, Tate continued to focus his writings on Southern themes. He published numerous volumes of poetry and prose, including one novel, The Fathers (1938). He was a visiting professor and lecturer at universities throughout the country, including the University of Chicago and Princeton University. He was also a Fulbright professor at the University of Rome and at Oxford University. He was a member of many societies, including the National Institute of Arts and Letters, of which he was president from 1968-1969, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Southern Historical Association, the Princeton Club, and the Authors Club of London. He won numerous awards, including Guggenheim fellowships, the National Institute of Arts and Letters Award, the Bollingen Prize for Poetry, the National Medal of Literature, and multiple honorary degrees. He died on February 9, 1979 in Nashville, Tennessee.

1899 Born on November 19 in Winchester, Kentucky 1922 Graduated magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University 1923 The Golden Mean, and Other Poems 1924 Married Caroline Gordon 1928 Mr. Pope, and Other Poems 1928 Stonewall Jackson: The Good Soldier 1928-1929 Guggenheim fellowships 1929 Jefferson Davis: His Rise and Fall 1930 Three Poems: Ode to the Confederate Dead, Message from Abroad, The Cross 1932 Poems: 1928-1931 1934-1936 Professor at Southwestern College 1936 The Mediterranean and Other Poems 1936 Reactionary Essays on Poetry and Ideas 1937 Selected Poems 1938 The Fathers 1938-1939 Professor at the Women's College of the University of North Carolina 1939-1942 Princeton University poet in residence 1941 Sonnets at Christmas 1941 Reason in Madness: Critical Essays 1943-1944 Library of Congress Chair of Poetry 1944 The Winter Sea 1944-1946 Editor of Sewanee Review 1947 Fragment of a Meditation\MCMXXVIII 1947-1951 Professor at New York University 1948 National Institute of Arts and Letters Award 1948 Poems: 1920-1945 1948 Poems: 1922-1947 1948 On the Limits of Poetry: Selected Essays, 1928-1948 1948 The Hovering Fly and Other Essays 1950 Two Conceits for the Eye to Sing, If Possible 1951-1968 Professor at the University of Minnesota 1953 The Forlorn Demon: Didactic and Critical Essays 1953-1954 Fulbright professor at the University of Rome 1955 The Man of Letters in the Modern World: Selected Essays 1956 Bollingen Prize for Poetry 1958-1959 Fulbright professor at Oxford University 1959 Divorced Caroline Gordon; married Isabella Stewart Gardner 1959 Collected Essays 1960 Poems 1961 Brandeis University Medal for Poetry 1962 Gold medal from Dante Society 1963 Academy of American Poets Award 1966 Divorced Isabella Stewart Gardner; married Helen Heinz 1966 Christ and the Unicorn 1968-1969 President of the National Institute of Arts and Letters 1969 Mere Literature and the Lost Traveller 1970 The Swimmers and Other Selected Poems 1972 The Translation of Poetry 1975 Memoirs and Opinions, 1926-1974 1976 Oscar Williams Award 1976 Mark Rothco Award 1976 Ingram Merrill Award 1976 National Medal for Literature 1977 Collected Poems, 1919-1976 1979 Died on February 9 in Nashville, Tennessee

Collection History


The collection began with a gift from Allen Tate in 1941, grew from additional gifts from him over several decades, and achieved its final form with a purchase from his widow in 1979.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed and the finding aid written in 1993.

A revision of series and box numbers was done by Nicholas Williams '2015 in 2013, although much of the exisiting finding aid remained intact.

In 2022, restrictions on an Ernest Hemingway letter where researchers were required to use surrogates were lifted as part of a restrictions review project.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing 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:

Allen Tate Papers; 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 (mss): Box 1-72