Document Type

Finding Aid

Collection Number

MSS-004

Publication Date

2013

Last Revision Date

10-24-2016

Description

Brief Biographical Note:

Conrad Potter Aiken (1889-1973) was born in Savannah, Georgia on August 5, 1889. After the tragic death of his parents, Aiken moved to Massachusetts, where he would eventually attend Harvard University and distinguish himself as President of the Harvard Advocate and co-editor with T.S. Eliot. Aiken was a successful poet and novelist, receiving the Pulitzer Prize in 1930 or his Selected Poems. Other awards included the Shelley Memorial Award (the award’s first recipient), National Medal for Literature, the Gold Medal for Poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Bollingen Prize, and the National Book Award. From 1950-1952 he was the Poetry Consultant to the Library of Congress, now known as the U.S. Poet Laureate. Aiken also edited Emily Dickinson’s Selected Poems in 1924, which proved to be largely responsible for establishing her posthumous literary reputation.

Scope and Content Note:

Aiken was well known for his letters, which is the strength of this collection. The correspondence from Conrad and his wife Mary are to Maureen Connelly, the donor of the collection. The collection contains a personal interview Mrs. Connelly did with Conrad Aiken, as well as numerous book reviews she wrote of his works, and reviews from others on Aiken’s works. A number of Aiken’s publications, including many that are inscribed, are in the collection, as well as works by authors that wrote about Aiken’s life. Correspondence and publications from Aiken’s children can be found, making the collection reflect Conrad Aiken’s entire family, not just himself. The numerous photographs of the Aiken’s by the donor show the author at a later stage in his life.

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