Ruby Cohn collection of Kay Boyle letters, 1922-19
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Brief Description: The Ruby Cohn Collection of Kay Boyle Letters contains materials dating from 1922 through 1994 in the form of autobiographical writings, correspondence, and miscellaneous documents.  The draft of her autobiography included in this collection appears to be the full text submitted to Gale Research and includes a note from Kay describing the status with publishers. The correspondence is made up of approximately 180 letters, nearly all of them from Kay Boyle to Ruby Cohn. There are two photographs of Kay Boyle contained within this series; they depict Kay in her adolescence and elderly years. All of the press cuttings are about Kay Boyle and her works, some with notes from Kay and others following her death.  The miscellaneous documents folder contains copies of some of Kay Boyle's writings (most under one page) in addition to notes on Kay's life, though the origin of these notes is unknown.
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]
Record Series Number: 1/1/MSS 235
Created by: Boyle, Kay, (1902-1992), Cohn, Ruby
Volume: 1.0 Boxes
Arrangement: Arranged by material type.
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
Boyle, Kay, 1902-1992
Cohn, Ruby.
Genres/Forms of Material
Boyle, Kay, 1902-1992 - Correspondence
Boyle, Kay, 1902-1992 - Manuscripts
Boyle, Kay, 1902-1992 - Photographs
Cohn, Ruby. - Correspondence
Manuscripts for publication.
Languages of Materials
English [eng]
Rights/Use Restrictions: To quote in print, or otherwise reproduce in whole or in part in any publication, including 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.
Related Materials:

Kay Boyle Papers, Collection 90

Alice A. Kahler Collection of Kay Boyle Letters, Collection 150

Herman and Fay Rappaport Collection of Kay Boyle Papers, Collection 87

Kay Boyle and Joseph Franckenstein Correspondence, Collection 184

Kay Boyle Manuscript of The Crazy Hunter, Collection 80

PreferredCitation: [Item], Ruby Cohn collection of Kay Boyle letters, Special Collections Research Center, Southern Illinois University Carbondale.