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Robert Carlton Brown collection of correspondence with Kay Boyle


Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Adminstrative Information

Detailed Description

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Robert Carlton Brown collection of correspondence with Kay Boyle, 1932-1963 | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center

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Collection Overview

Title: Robert Carlton Brown collection of correspondence with Kay Boyle, 1932-1963Add to your cart.

ID: 1/1/MSS 181

Primary Creator: Boyle, Kay, (1902-1992)

Extent: 1.0 Boxes

Arrangement: Arranged chronologically.

Subjects: Boyle, Kay, 1902-1992, Brown, Bob, 1886-1959, Franckenstein, Joseph., Vail, Apple-Joan, Vail, Clover

Forms of Material: Boyle, Kay, 1902-1992 - Correspondence, Correspondence.

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

This collection consists of correspondence from Kay Boyle to Robert Carlton Brown between the years of 1931 and 1960. The correspondence is mainly of a personal nature, but there is also discussion of her own writing and the writing of Brown. She comments enthusiastically about an unnamed manuscript he sent her in 1941, and consistently writes of her own struggles to work and to find work due to her blacklisted status. Following the arrest of her husband, Baron Joseph von Franckenstein, Boyle talks about legal complications and financial difficulty. She also discusses various troubles with her daughters, and in 1960 makes mention of a new love affair.

Biographical Note

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.

Subject/Index Terms

Boyle, Kay, 1902-1992
Brown, Bob, 1886-1959
Franckenstein, Joseph.
Vail, Apple-Joan
Vail, Clover

Administrative Information

Repository: Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center

Access Restrictions: Unrestricted access.

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.

Preferred Citation: [Item], Robert Carlton Brown collection of correspondence with Kay Boyle, Special Collections Research Center, Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Box:

[Box 1],

Box 1Add to your cart.
Folder 1: InventoryAdd to your cart.
Folder 2: 1932, 1937Add to your cart.
14 Items
Folder 3: 1941Add to your cart.
7 Items
Folder 4: 1942Add to your cart.
30 Items
Folder 5: 1944, 1955, 1956Add to your cart.
13 Items
Folder 6: 1958, 1959Add to your cart.
19 Items
Folder 7: 1960Add to your cart.
20 Items
Folder 8: 1961Add to your cart.
13 Items
Folder 9: 1962, 1963Add to your cart.
13 Items

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