Kay Boyle and Joseph Franckenstein correspondence, 1940-1963
[Back to Formatted Version]
Brief Description:

The Kay Boyle and Joseph Franckenstein Collection was donated by Boyle in 1981 and consists primarily of their correspondence from the time Boyle met Franckenstein, when he tutored her children at her home with Laurence Vail in Megeve, France, until his death in 1963.  It is supplemented with correspondence from friends, family, and business associates, as well as photographs and news clippings. The nature of the correspondence is both personal and historically informing, beginning at the end of 1940 when Boyle learns of Franckenstein's experiences in an Austrian internment camp, his escape, and his run from the Nazis.  Their relationship built as they discussed his experiences, which Boyle was using in a novel she was working on.  The novel became Avalanche, published in 1944.  Other correspondence contains information about Boyle's activities including her work habits, her social life, as well as her family relationship.  It reveals how she researched her stories, where she found inspiration, and whom she looked to for opinions on and information for her writing.  Her friendships with Carson & Reeves McCullers, Grace Flandeau, Bessie Breuer, Mary Reynolds and Marcel Duchamp, Maria Leiper, Ira & Edita Morris are also chronicled with correspondence from them (as well as many others) in the collection.


This correspondence also reveals her tireless efforts on behalf of Franckenstein to get him accepted into the Armed Services--specifically the skit troops and later into the OSS based in London.  It poignantly points out the feelings she and he suffered after his capture as a spy and escape (for the second time) from the Nazis. The remaining letters, after they began a life together, spans mainly trips and time apart, ending with the declining health of Franckenstein as he traveled to Iran to work for the government in the State Department, Boyle's trip to Iran, the discovery of Franckenstein's cancer, his treatment in Germany, and his death in 1963.

Held at:
Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center
605 Agriculture Dr.
MC 6632
Carbondale, IL 62901
Phone: 618-453-2516
Fax: 618-453-3451
Email: speccoll [at] lib.siu.edu
Record Series Number: 1/1/MSS 184
Created by: Boyle, Kay, (1902-1992), Franckenstein, Joseph.
Volume: 26.0 Boxes
Arrangement: Arranged chronologically.
Biographical Note for Boyle, Kay, (1902-1992) :

Kay Boyle was born in 1902 and was a member of the American expatriate movement of the 1920s and 1930s.  As a young woman Boyle studied architecture at the Ohio Mechanics Institute in Cincinnati.  Boyle's first contribution to a national publication was a letter to the editor, which appeared in Harriet Monroe's Poetry: A Magazine of Verse in 1921.

Sometime in 1925 Boyle became involved in This Quarter, a literary review, which published her work in the first three issues.  Her first published pieces had been poems in Poetry, Broom, Forum, and Contact. In 1929 the Crosbys' Black Sun Press published Boyle's first book, titled Short Stories, in a limited edition of 185 copies.

In the late 1930's Boyle befriended several of the period's most notable writers, including James Joyce and Gertrude Stein, as well as Robert McAlmon.  In addition to lending advice as a fellow artist, McAlmon helped her to leave Duncan Colony and provided financial assistance when funds were low.  Although they never produced a collaborative work during his lifetime, Boyle revisited McAlmon's 1938 autobiography after his death, adding chapters that gave her perspective on the events he described.  The result was a revised edition of Being Geniuses Together, published in 1968.  During this time Boyle met Joseph Franckenstein, an Austrian baron, mountain climber, skier, and scholar.  In 1943 Franckenstein and Boyle were married.  He became an American citizen that year, and as an OSS officer, parachuted into France to help the Resistance.  Much of Boyle's World War II writing is inspired by Franckenstein.  He and Boyle were in Germany during the occupation when Boyle turned out some of the finest postwar fiction for the New Yorker (collected in 1951 in The Smoking Mountain). He also was with her when she was accused of communist sympathies during the McCarthy era of the early fifties, and consequently lost his government job.  Though the charges were fought and ultimately dismissed, the blacklisting and the time and resources required to fight the charges exacted immeasurable harm on their personal and professional lives.  Shortly after moving to San Francisco, where Boyle had been appointed to the creative writing faculty of San Francisco State College in 1963, Franckenstein died of cancer.  They had two children. Boyle died in 1992.

Access Restrictions: Unrestricted access.
Subject Index
Anti-Nazi movement.
Boyle, Kay, 1902-1992
Breuer, Bessie, b. 1893
Duchamp, Marcel, 1887-1968.
Flandeau, Grace.
Franckenstein, Joseph.
Leiper, Maria.
McCullers, Carson, 1917-1967.
McCullers, Reeves, 1913-1953.
Morris, Edita, 1902-
Morris, Ira.
Reynolds, Mary, 1891-1950.
World War, 1939-1945
Genres/Forms of Material
Boyle, Kay, 1902-1992 - Correspondence
Franckenstein, Joseph. - Correspondence
Languages of Materials
English [eng]
Rights/Use Restrictions: To quote in print, or otherwise reproduce in whole or in part in any publication, including on the World Wide Web, any material from this collection, the researcher must obtain permission from (1) the owner of the physical property and (2) the holder of the copyright. Persons wishing to quote from this collection should consult Special Collections Research Center to determine copyright holders for information in this collection. Reproduction of any item must contain the complete citation to the original.
PreferredCitation: [Item], Kay Boyle and Joseph Franckenstein correspondence, Special Collections Research Center, Southern Illinois University Carbondale.