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Contemporary manuscripts collection

The Contemporary Manuscripts collection contains a total of thousands of pages of manuscripts and/or correspondence from hundreds of poets and writers such as Lascelles Abercrombie, W. H. Auden, David Gascoyne, Elizabeth Jennings, Hugh MacDiarmid, Thomas Merton, Charlotte Mew, Ezra Pound, Alastair Reid, Peter Russell, Winfield Townley Scott, Genevieve Taggard, Ruthven Todd, Henry Treece, and Louis Zukofsky. Those represented by large letter collections include Lascelles Abercrombie, Richard Aldington, Robert Bridges, Cid Corman, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, Richard Le Gallienne, Robert McAlmon, Thomas McGrath, Richard Middleton, John Crowe Ransom, W. B. Yeats, and Louis Zukofsky. Wallace Stevens responded to Abbott's solicitation by sending the working manuscript for the poem "The Man with the Blue Guitar," while Marianne Moore submitted a smaller selection of poem manuscripts. Later donations and purchases include materials by Kathleen Raine, Stephen Spender, James Kirkup, W. D. Snodgrass, and Felicia Lamport.

The Contemporary Manuscripts collection dates back to the founding of the Poetry Collection by Charles D. Abbott in 1937. Along with first editions of British and American poets, Abbott made a concerted effort to acquire the working manuscripts and letters of contemporary poets, soliciting materials from hundreds of writers and beginning a tradition of purchasing others. Some of these manuscript collections, like the James Joyce collection, are individually named and separately cataloged, while the rest are part of this main repository that serves as the general foundation of the Poetry Collection's manuscript holdings.