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Collection Overview

Garro, Elena
Elena Garro Papers
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
14 boxes and 5.8 linear feet
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Boxes 1-14; B-001810


The Elena Garro Papers consist of manuscripts, correspondence, notebooks, journals, photographs, printed material, and a diary of Mexican writer Elena Garro (1916-1998). Included in the papers is correspondence and personal documents of Garro's daughter, Helena Paz Garro (1939-2014), a published poet.

Collection Description & Creator Information


The Elena Garro Papers consist of manuscripts, correspondence, notebooks, journals, photographs, printed material, and a diary of Elena Garro (1916-1998), a Mexican novelist, short story writer, and playwright who lived for many years outside of Mexico. Included in the papers is correspondence and personal documents of Garro's daughter, Helena Paz Garro (1939-2014), a published poet.

Manuscripts for some of Garro's published novels, novellas, and short stories such as Busca mi esquela, Testimonios sobre Mariana, and Y Matarazo no llamó are present in the papers; as well as some of Garro's plays like Felipe Angeles and Parada San Ángel. There are many iterative drafts of Garro's Memorias de España 1937. Also present are many unpublished or incomplete manuscripts, including 89 notebooks Garro filled with notes on an unfinished project about early 20th century Russian history and historical figures.

The correspondence features both outgoing and incoming letters with family members, publishers, artists, and writers who Garro befriended when she lived abroad. Correspondents include literary agent Carmen Balcells, Adolfo Bioy Casares, José Bianco, Max Aub, Victoria Ocampo, Luis Buñuel, René Aviles Fábila, Guillermo Schmidhuber de la Mora, Leonor Fini, José María Fernández Unsáin, Emilio Carballido, Ulyses Petit de Murat, and Emmanuel Carballo. Correspondence also includes significant amount of early handwritten letters by Octavio Paz to Elena Garro during their courtship and up until their divorce (1935-1956), a few handwritten letters by Elena Garro to Octavio Paz, including incomplete letters concerning the breakup of their marriage, and handwritten and typewritten incoming and outgoing letters to Helena Paz Garro (1958-1989). There are also letters from Octavio Paz's mother, Josefina Lozano de Paz, to Elena Garro, Octavio Paz, and Helena Paz Garro. The Helena Paz Garro correspondence includes letters from Cuban author Roberto Fernández Retamar and American poet Muriel Rukeyser.

The papers also include 16 photographs, three of which show Elena Garro and Octavio Paz together (one is from the mid 1930s and one is dated 1952), and two photographs of Elena Garro and Helena Paz Garro, dated 1967 and 1973.

Also included are a variety of materials belonging to Elena Garro and Helena Paz Garro, including journals, prescriptions, financial receipts, animal care documents, a diary, and an inscribed, dedicated copy of Octavio Paz's poem, ¡No pasaran! Additional materials include seven typescripts of works by Elena Garro, including short stories, short novels, and plays.


The collection has been arranged in the following series: Series 1: Published Writings, Series 2: Unpublished or Incomplete Writings, Series 3: Correspondence of Elena Garro, Series 4: Correspondence of Helena Paz Garro, Series 5: Photographs, Series 6: Journals and Personal Documents.

Collection Creator Biography:

Garro, Elena

Elena Garro was born in Puebla, Mexico on December 11, 1916 to a Spanish father, José Antonio Garro Menendreras, and a Mexican mother, Esperanza Navarro Benítez. She studied at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) where she was enrolled in the College of Philosophy and Letters. She married the Mexican poet and future Nobel Laureate Octavio Paz on May 25, 1937.

Shortly after their marriage, Garro and Paz embarked on a trip to Europe, traveling first to Paris, and then to Barcelona, Valencia, and Madrid, Spain. In Valencia, Octavio Paz and the writers José Mancisidor and Carlos Pellicer represented Mexico at the II International Congress of Writers for the Defense of Culture (Congreso Internacional de Escritores para la Defensa de la Cultura). This conference, alternately called the Congreso de Intelectuales Antifascistas (Congress of Antifascist Intellectuals), is well-documented in Garro's memoirs, Memorias de España 1937 (1992). In her memoirs, Garro details meeting poets and artists from Spain, Latin America, and other countries who were in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, including Pablo Casals, Miguel Hernández, León Felipe, Pablo Neruda, and Alejo Carpentier.

Garro and Paz returned to Mexico at the end of 1937 where they lived until about 1943. Helena Paz Garro was born during this period in 1939. In 1943-1945, the Paz Garro family lived in various parts of the U.S. including Berkeley, California and Middlebury, Vermont, while Paz taught at various academic posts. In 1945, Octavio Paz was invited to join the Mexican diplomatic service and he and Garro went to Paris where he served in his first diplomatic post. In Paris, Elena Garro met other Latin American writers and intellectuals such as José Bianco, Adolfo Bioy Casares, and Silvina Ocampo. Garro would begin a twenty year correspondence and love affair with Bioy Casares in 1949.

At the end of 1951, Paz traveled to India and then to Japan while on diplomatic duty. Garro accompanied Paz to Japan but fell seriously ill. The family moved to Switzerland in late 1952 in order for Garro to recuperate. This is where Garro wrote Los recuerdos de porvenir (Recollection of Things to Come). From 1954-1959, Garro spent time in Mexico working as a journalist and a playwright, and returned to Paris at the end of 1959. According to Garro's memoirs, Paz initiated divorce proceedings with her in 1959, though it was not until 1963 that the Mexican government acknowledged the divorce as legal. Paz would return to India in 1963 as Mexican ambassador and would remain there until his resignation in protest of the Mexican government's violent suppression of student demonstrations in Tlatelolco during the Olympic Games in 1968.

Garro remained in Paris until 1963, when she and Helena Paz Garro returned to Mexico City. In Mexico City, Garro worked as a journalist for La cultura en México and the cultural supplement for Siempre!, focusing her writing on political issues. Her remarks on the Tlatelolco massacre stirred open hostility and spurred a division between Garro and the Mexican literary community. Garro went on a self-imposed exile to New York and then to Spain in 1971.

Garro and Paz Garro moved to Paris in 1981 and remained there until 1993. During this period, Garro published Testimonios sobre Mariana (1981), Reencuentro de personajes (1982), La casa junto al río Grijalbo (1983), and Y Matarazo no llamó (1991). In 1993, Garro and Paz Garro returned to Mexico and lived in Cuernavaca where Garro remained until her death in 1998. Helena Paz Garro remained in Cuernavaca until her death in 2014.

Collection History


The bulk of the materials were purchased from Helena Paz Garro, the rest from her cousin.

Purchase, 1997 (AM 1997-92).

Purchase, 2000 (AM 2001-12).

Purchase, 2001 (AM 2001-66).

Purchase, 2015 (AM 2016-21).

Purchase, 2018 (AM 2018-10). Purchased from Roberto Tabla Steinmann in 2021 (AM 2022-048).


Nothing was removed from the collection during the 2015 and 2022 processing.

Processing Information

This collection was re-processed by Elvia Arroyo-Ramirez in October 2015. Original finding aid written by Claire A. Johnston in 2002.

Additional materials processed by Armando Suárez in 2022.

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:

Elena Garro 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): Boxes 1-14; B-001810