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ECU English professor Tom Douglass reviews Joyner Library's newly acquired collection that includes rare materials from Southern authors. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Collection focusing on Southern authors added to Joyner Library

The J. Y. Joyner Library at East Carolina University has acquired the literary collection of Stuart Wright, a noted bibliographer and collector whose work focuses on Southern poets and novelists. The works had been on loan to the library for several months, but now will be part of the permanent collection.

A native of North Carolina and a graduate of Wake Forest University, Wright lives in Ludlow, England. He is perhaps best known for his published bibliographies of such noted American writers as A.R. Ammons, James Dickey, Richard Eberhart, George Garrett, William Goyen, Randall Jarrell, Andrew Nelson Lytle, Walker Percy, Peter Taylor and Reynolds Price. He developed close relationships with many of the writers represented in the collection.

The Wright Collection consists of more than 3,000 printed works and 5,000 manuscripts. Included are portions of the private libraries of Eberhart, who taught for many years at Dartmouth College, the English poet Donald Davie and such Southern writers as Jarrell, John Crowe Ransom, Peter Taylor, and Robert Penn Warren, as well as many first editions of books they wrote. Many of the books contain significant inscriptions, annotations, and insertions that shed light on the writers’ thought processes and their relationships with their peers. The collection also contains significant manuscript material, including notebooks, letters, and literary stet by Madison Smartt Bell, Eberhart, Jarrell, Ransom, Taylor and Warren. 

Among the manuscripts are holograph letters written by Taylor to his wife during World War II, notebooks and a virtually complete collection of poems written by Jarrell, and Warren’s typescript of the 1949 screenplay for “All the King's Men.”
Other writers represented by books or manuscripts include Cleanth Brooks, Robert Lowell, Lytle, Merrill Moore, Katherine Anne Porter, William Styron, Allen Tate and Eudora Welty.

Appraiser Lynn Roundtree of Chapel Hill recently described the collection as “an extraordinary accumulation of rare first printings, association copies, authors’ copies, dedication copies, authors’ presentation copies, and literary papers of many of the finest American poets, novelists, and short story writers of the 20th century.” Of particular note is the inclusion of materials by five poets laureate, making the collection of great value to students and scholars who will be able to see the creative process on display through the manuscripts and published works of these poets.

Larry Boyer, dean of Academic Library and Learning Resources, said, “This collection will be an incredible boon to ECU students and faculty and will attract scholars at Greenville from throughout the U.S. and English-speaking world.”

Preliminary inventories of the collection have been completed, and all materials are available for research in the library’s special collections department. Additional cataloging and processing will take place in the future.

For more information on accessing items in the Wright Collection, contact the Special Collections Department at (252) 328-6671.

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This story appeared originally in the Sept. 24, 2010 issue of Pieces of Eight. An archived version of that issue is available at