Sir Frank Kermode Papers

The Princeton University Library has recently acquired 19 boxes of manuscripts, correspondence, audiovisual materials, and ephemera of Sir Frank Kermode (1919–2010), one of the most distinguished literary critics of the 20th century. These materials constitute Kermode’s remaining papers and have been added to the Sir Frank Kermode Papers, which the Library began acquiring in 2007 with support from the Friends of the Princeton University Library. For a summary of and highlights from the original acquisition in 2007, click here.

Kermode is well known for his seminal book of literary criticism, Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction (1967), as well as his writings on William Shakespeare and D. H. Lawrence. Extensive drafts of these works, with autograph corrections, are represented in this latest addition, which includes early drafts of Sense of an Ending, a typed manuscript draft of D. H. Lawrence (1973), and correspondence, handwritten notes, sheet music, and galley proofs for his Arden Shakespeare edition of The Tempest (1954). The addition also contains a bound carbon typescript of Aaron Hill and his Plays (1940), which Kermode called his first book, as well as several boxes of unpublished lectures and research notes and over two dozen unpublished notebooks.

The acquisition enhances the Library’s holdings of literary critics’ papers and publishers’ archives. Several dozen letters from Kermode appear in the papers of poet and literary critic Allen Tate (1899–1979), who also corresponded at length with Cleanth Brooks (1906–1994), Malcolm Cowley (1898–1989), and Robert Penn Warren (1905–1989). The Library has the papers of (and copyright to) R. P. Blackmur (1904-1965), another prominent literary critic who was a professor of English and Creative Writing at Princeton from 1940 to 1965. His papers include drafts of his creative work and critical essays, lecture notes, correspondence with other American literary figures, notebooks, and photographs.

The archives of The Hudson Review, a literary magazine that has published some the most eminent writers and critics of the twentieth century, contains correspondence with Erich Auerbach (1892–1957), Harold Bloom, Northrop Frye (1912–1991), Frederic Jameson, Marshall McLuhan (1911–1980), Edward Said (1935–2003), and others, while the archives of the literary magazine Quarterly Review of Literature includes correspondence with critics such as Kenneth Burke (1897–1993), Lionel Trilling (1905–1975), and W. K. Wimsatt (1907–1975), as well as an unpublished essay by Paul de Man (1919–1983) on the Romantic poet Friedrich Hölderlin (1770–1843).

The Library also holds papers of 19th- and 20th-century British literary and art critics, including Raymond Mortimer (1895–1980), William Michael Rossetti (1829–1919), John Ruskin (1819–1900), and Arthur Symons (1865–1945).

Sir Frank Kermode, undated photograph (detail). Man­u­scripts Divi­sion, Depart­ment of Rare Books and Spe­cial Col­lec­tions, Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity Library. Not to be reproduced without the permission of the Princeton University Library.