Contents and Arrangement

Condolence Letters, 1997

1 folder

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information


The papers include writer and literary critic Sonya Rudikoff's professional and personal correspondence from the 1950s through the 1990s, along with notebooks, academic papers, and diaries from her time at Bennington College in the 1940s, typescripts of unpublished fiction and lectures, a curriculum vitae and bibliography of her work, and a small selection of her husband's correspondence after her death.

Most notable within the correspondence files are five decades of regular correspondence from second-generation Abstract Expressionist painter Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011) to Sonya Rudikoff. Frankenthaler and Rudikoff met at Bennington College in the late 1940s, where they both studied art with Paul Feeley, and later lived together in New York City in 1950, following graduation. Correspondence from Frankenthaler includes over five hunded letters and postcards, regarding Frankenthaler's artwork and art shows, as well as the artwork of her husband Robert Motherwell, a prominent first-generation Abstract Expressionist. Correspondence contains lengthy descriptions of Frankenthaler's thoughts about her work process and the evolution of her painting over time, as well as her opinions on contemporary and past art movements, family and health-related issues, personal relationships, travel, contemporary culture, and international political issues. Also present are a few letters from Robert Motherwell and his daughters addressed to Rudikoff, along with a group of invitations and exhibition catalogs related to Franklenthaler's art events and parties.

Other correspondence reflects Rudikoff's professional work as an editor, literary and art critic, and contributor to The Hudson Review and other periodicals, as a published writer and independent scholar on many topics, including Victorian literature, modernism, and feminism, and as a judge for various literary awards. Personal correspondence includes several decades of letters between Rudikoff and her husband, Robert Gutman, along with Gutman's correspondence regarding the posthumous publication of Rudikoff's book, Ancestral Houses: Virginia Woolf and the Aristocracy (Society for the Promotion of Science and Scholarship, 1999), and condolence letters following her death. Materials from Rudikoff's time at Bennington College from 1945 to 1948 demonstrate her artistic abilities and early interest in modernist women writers, while diaries and planners provide a general view of the life of a young female college student in the late 1940s. Typescripts of various fiction writings, along with lectures and papers presented at academic conferences are also present, including drafts of several lectures on Virginia Woolf and her circle, as well as a full typescript of an unpublished novel about a female Abstract Expressionist painter living in New York City in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Collection History

Archival Appraisal Information:

Nothing was removed from the collection during 2014 processing.

Access & Use

Access Restrictions:

Open for research.

Conditions for Reproduction and 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:

Condolence Letters; Sonya Rudikoff Papers, C1493, Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

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Storage Note:
ReCAP (rcpxm): Box 4