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Collection Overview

Tate, Allen, 1899-1979
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Allen Tate Collection
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1 box and 0.45 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1


Consists primarily of letters and postcards to various friends, fellow poets, and associates by American poet and editor Allen Tate.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection consists primarily of letters and postcards by Tate to various friends, fellow poets, and associates, such as Gertrude Hooker, Leonard Unger, Barbara Howes Smith, Carlos Baker, Louis O. Coxe, and Sally Wood Cohn. Also present are some letters received by Tate, a few of his poems, including two versions of "The Buried Lake," and three photographs.


Arranged in order of acquisition.

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


Versions of "the Buried Lake" is a gift of Samuel H. Monk '24. Letters to Maritain are an exhcange with Circle D'Etudes. Additions to papers were purchased from the author in 1977. Letter to Gerlach purchased from Walter R. Benjamin. Letters from Tate and Gordon are a gift of Joseph Horrell. Letter to Robie was purchased from David Holmes. More letters from Tate and Gordon were purchased from Amelia Wood Silver. Letter from Tate to granddaughter was purchased from Mrs. Christopher Follon. Letters purchased from Sotheby's. Letters and postcards to Coxe is a gift of Prof. Louis Coxe '40. 2 poems are a gift of Isabella Gardner Tate. Letter to Bush is a gift of the Chronicle. Letters to Weingert are a gift of S.L. Weingert. Letters to J.W. Clark were purchased from Prof. J.W. Clark. Photographs Received from Alfred Bush. Letters to Monk are a gift of Samuel Holt Monk. Letters to Sutcliffe purchased from Mrs. Denham Sutcliffe. Letters to Babette Deutsch purchased from William Young and Co. Letter to Morse is a gift to Mrs. Marston Morse.

Custodial History

The collection was formed as a result of a departmental practice of combining into one collection manuscript material of various accessions relating to a particular author.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed in 2004. Finding aid written in 2004.

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:

Allen Tate Collection; 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): Box 1