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Collection Overview

Valaōritēs, Nanos
Nanos Valaōritēs Papers
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
38 boxes and 19.65 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1-38


The Nanos Valaōritēs Papers consists of the writings, notebooks, sketchbooks, correspondence, and printed matter relating to Pali of the Greek poet, novelist, playwright, and editor, Nanos Valaōritēs. There are also wtitings of other people.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection consists primarily of nearly fifty years of personal and professional correspondence received by Valaōritēs. Correspondents include Mantō Aravantinou, Laura Beausoleil, Sinclair Beiles, Nicolas Calas, Andrei Codrescu, Markos Dragoumēs, Andreas Empeirikos, Cecil Helman, Jan Herman, Jack Hirschman, Alain and Manina Jouffroy, Helenē Karkazē, Michaēl Mētras, Opal and Ellen Nations, Harold Norse, Nicole Ollier, Alexandros Schinas, Nikos Stangos, and Kōstas Tachtsēs. There are also letters written by Valaōritēs, as well as letters between others. Furthermore, the collection contains poetry and prose writings, notebooks, sketchbooks, printed and miscellanea matter.

The following standard abbreviations are used to identify materials in this collection: AMs=autograph manuscript and TMs=typed manuscript.


Organized into the following series and subseries:

Collection Creator Biography:

Valaōritēs, Nanos

Nanos Valaōritēs was born on July 4, 1921 in Lausanne, Switzerland, to Greek parents Kōnstantinos and Aikaterinē (Leōnida) Valaōritēs. He spent his youth in Greece, and following a family tradition -- he was the great-grandson of the Greek poet Aristotelēs Valaōritēs -- would later become an internationally known post-surrealist poet.

Valaōritēs's first published poems appeared in the Greek review Ta Nea Grammata in 1939. His higher education included studying law, literature, and languages at the universities of Athens, London, and Paris. In 1944 he leaves Greece and from 1944 to 1953 he lives in London. The violence of World War II was a strong influence on Valaōritēs's early writing; Hē timōria tōn magōn [ The Punishment of the Magicians] (1947), his first published collection of poems, includes graphic war imagery. During the 1940s, he translated writings by George Seferis and Odysseas Elytēs, for British reviews and, in collaboration with Bernard Spencer and Lawrence Durrell, produced the first book of modernist Greek poetry in translation, The King of Asine (1948) by George Seferis.

Valaōritēs married Anne Firth, an actress known by her stage name Anne Valery, in 1947. Together they had a son, Daniēl-Kōnstantinos, who suffered an accident and died young. The couple later divorced.

While in Athens, 1940-1944, Valaōritēs was strongly influenced by the Greek surrealist group. During his years in Paris in the 1950s, and through his friendship with Marie Wilson, an American painter, Valaōritēs became involved with the French surrealists under the guidance of André Breton. The influence of the surrealists on Valaōritēs's work marked a shift from pessimistic war poems to more optimistic themes and images.

Nineteen fifty-nine was a prolific year for Valaōritēs: His plays Nightfall Hotel [ L'hotel de la nuit qui tombe] was produced in Paris, and The Log was produced in both Athens and Denmark; in addition, his collaboration with Marie Wilson, Terre de diamant [ Diamond Land], was privately printed in Athens.

In 1960, Valaōritēs married Marie Wilson, and together they had three children: Katerina, Zōē, and Dino. From 1963 to 1968, he directed the literary review Pali in Athens. In 1968, shortly after the Greek military coup came to power, Valaōritēs and his family moved to the United States, where he taught comparative literature and creative writing at San Francisco State University until his retirement in 1993.

Valaōritēs has received various awards, including a National Endowment for the Arts grant in 1981, and the Greek State Prize of Poetry for Some Women in 1983. In 1994 he was a poet-in-residence for the Program in Hellenic Studies at Princeton University. His most recent works are Grammatokivōtion anepidotōn epistolōn (2010) and Ho Homēros kai to alphavēto (2010).

Collection History


The papers were purchased with matching funds provided by the Program in Hellenic Studies with the support of the Stanley J. Seeger Hellenic Fund.


Nothing was removed from the collection.

Processing Information

Part of the collection was processed by Karla J. Vecchia in 2004. The collection was reprocessed and completed by Kalliopi Balatsouka in 2011. A new finding aid was compiled by Kalliopi Balatsouka in 2011. Additional papers were processed by Kalliopi Balatsouka in 2013.

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:

Nanos Valaōritēs 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 (scamss): Box 1-38