Richard F. Peterson Papers, 1976-1982 | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center
The Richard F. Peterson papers, covering the years 1976-1982, contain critical work on a variety of authors. A majority of the papers focus on Mary Lavin, a contemporary Irish fiction writer, best known for her short stories. There are 31 letters, mainly from Lavin to Peterson. The collection also contains the manuscript of "From Atherny to Bective: The Common Materials of Art;" chapter one of Peterson's Twayne's English Authors Series book on Lavin; catalogs of several Mary Lavin collections; an interview with Lavin; and "The Girders," and uncollected short story.
The Lavin-Peterson correspondence (1976-1980) is predominantly literary, concerning Lavin's career as a writer, her dealings with publishers, the re-editing of her stories and novels, getting grants, and doing readings. Lavin rarely comments on the details of specific stories in her letters, though occasionally she mentions which stories she is working on at the time. There are some insights into Lavin's views on her writing and on writing in general, such as her comment on writers' lives: "? I was thinking how unhealthy and untidy a writer's life must be - for a woman anyway - men can have wives to look after the chores. I know if I had kept my house tidy, myself clean & tidy, been punctual? I would never have had time to write as I did" (April 15, 1978). In a letter dated June 12, 1978, Lavin refers to a prophetic quality in her work. As the correspondence goes on, Lavin's letters to Peterson become more personal, including information about her family hardships, travels, and problems with doctors, among other things.
The papers contain Peterson's writings on other Irish authors as well, including three drafts of an essay on W.B. Yeats and Norreys Connell (published in the Yeats Annual 1983), a transcript (with revision) of Peterson's 1982 Harry T. Moore Lecture "Joyce at 100," and uncorrected proof pages for his 1982 Twayne's English Authors Series book on W. B. Yeats.