Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Porter, Katherine Anne, 1890-1980.
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Katherine Anne Porter Collection
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1 box and 0.2 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1


Consists of selected letters, holograph and typewritten, of Katherine Anne Porter.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of selected letters, holograph and typewritten, of Katherine Anne Porter. There are two letters to Arthur Mizener, who taught English at Cornell University and was the biographer of F. Scott Fitzgerald; twelve letters to his wife, Rosemary P. Mizener; two letters addressed to both Rosemary and Arthur Mizener; and 1 letter to a Miss Mackay. In her letters to the Mizeners, Porter talks about her books, including Flowering Judas, and other essays published in Harper's Bazaar. She also mentions that her husband Albert did the editing and proofreading for one of her books. There are three letters to poet Allen Tate, where Porter mentions that she hopes to sign a deal with NBC for hosting a show about literature. Also included are nine letters to Caroline Gordon, wife of Tate. Most of Porter's letters were written while she was at Yaddo, a retreat and a working community of writers, composers, and visual artists in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where she invited Rosemary Mizener and Caroline Gordon to visit. She also wrote to Mizener about the "cloistral" nature of the place.

Collection Creator Biography:

Porter, Katherine Anne, 1890-1980.

Katherine Anne Porter was an American journalist, essayist, storywriter, poet, novelist, and political activist. Her works deal with dark themes such as betrayal, death, and the origin of human evil. In 1906, at age 16, she married John Henry Koontz, who was physically abusive to her. She ran away and worked as an actress and a singer in both Chicago and Texas. In 1918, she wrote for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, Colorado, where she almost died during the influenza pandemic. This experience provided the background for her critically acclaimed book Pale Horse, Pale Rider. In 1919 she lived in New York City, which had a politically radicalizing effect on her, and in 1920 she went to work for a magazine publisher in Mexico, where she became acquainted with members of the Mexican leftist movement, including Diego Rivera. In 1938 she married Albert Russel Erskine, Jr., a graduate student who was 20 years younger. Between 1948 and 1958, Porter taught at Stanford University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Texas, where her unconventional manner of teaching made her popular with students. In 1962, she published her successful novel Ship of Fools. In 1966 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter (1965), and was also appointed to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1977, Porter published The Never-Ending Wrong, an account of the trial and execution of Sacco and Vanzetti, which she had protested fifty years earlier.

Collection History


17 letters to the Mizeners and Miss Mackay : Gift of Mrs. Arthur Mizener, Sept. 1948. AM 13774.

12 Letters to Allen Tate and Caroline Gordon : Purchase, Oct. 1984. AM 85-38.

Custodial History

The collection was formed as a result of a Departmental practice of combining into one collection material of various accessions relating to a particular person, family, or subject.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

Folder inventory added by Nicholas Williams '2015 in 2012.

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.

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:

Katherine Anne Porter 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