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Sara Teasdale letters to Orrick Johns

Identifier: MSS 0099-F0252

Scope and Contents

The letters of Sara Teasdale to Orrick Johns, a collection of forty-three letters from Teasdale and one letter to Teasdale from Wilfred Funk, are housed in F252 of Manuscript Collection 99. Arranged in chronological order, the autograph letters, cards, and notes range in dates from 1909 to 1914, (with fifteen undated items). In many of her letters Teasdale praised and critiqued the poetry of the letters recipient, Orrick Johns, a friend and fellow poet. He was also editor of the literary magazine, The Mirror, in which a number of her poems appeared. It is obvious from her letters that Teasdale held Johns in high regard for his friendship and his literary work.

Teasdale wrote to Johns from various locales, including her home in St. Louis, Missouri, vacation spots such as St. Augustine, Florida, and Amalfi, Italy; as well as from New York City. In her letters Teasdale discussed her motivations for writing, her feelings about the quality of particular poems (one letter includes an eight-line poem, "Dew"), and her work in general. Her letters are filled with her observations of life, revealing her struggle with difficult feelings such as loneliness, a terror of death, and doubts about her poetry. She mentioned her admiration for the poetry of Nora French and Sappho, and expressed her enthusiasm for New York City.

Some of Teasdale's thoughts about women are revealed in a New Year's Eve, 1910, letter, in which she stated: "I sometimes think a woman has no right to do anything but lyrics--The rest somehow belongs to men. A woman, being inferior to a man in everything but delicacy and a certain emotional keenness, should follow only those arts where these two qualities count--and perhaps acting and lyrical verse are the only two. But I am mooning on a pet theory of mine."


  • Creation: 1909-1914, undated


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Access Information

The collection is open for research.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Biographical Note

American poet Sara Teasdale was born August 8, 1884, in St. Louis, Missouri, to merchant John Warren and Mary Elizabeth (Willard) Teasdale. After attending Mrs. Lockwood's School and the Mary Institute she was graduated from Hosmer Hall in 1903. Between 1904 and 1907 Teasdale and a group of friends published a monthly literary magazine, The Potter's Wheel, which met with success in St. Louis.

Teasdale traveled extensively and made frequent trips to Chicago, where she eventually became part of Harriet Monroe's Poetry magazine circle and met numerous other poets. After rejecting the poet Vachel Lindsay as a suitor, she married St. Louis businessman, Ernst Filsinger, in 1914. She divorced Filsinger in 1929, against his wishes.

"Guenevere" was Teasdale's first poem to be printed, appearing in Reedy's Mirror in 1907. Teasdale's first book, Sonnets to Duse and Other Poems, was published by Poet Lore in the same year. Among her other books of poetry were numerous volumes published by Macmillan, including Rivers to the Sea (1915), Love Songs (1917), Flame and Shadow (1920), Dark of the Moon (1926), and Strange Victory (1933). In 1918 Teasdale was awarded the annual prize of the Poetry Society of America and the Columbia University Poetry Society Prize (forerunner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry) for Love Songs.

Popular during the early twentieth century, Teasdale's poems appeared in numerous periodicals including Harper's, Scribner's, Century, Forum, Lippincott's, Putnam's, Bookman, and New Republic.

On January 29, 1933, having become increasingly depressed and reclusive, Sara Teasdale died of an overdose of sleeping pills. She was buried in St. Louis, Missouri.

Locher, Frances C. (ed.) Contemporary Authors. Volume 104. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1982. p. 466.Quartermain, Peter (ed.) Dictionary of Literary Biography. Volume 45: American Poets, 1880-1945. First Series. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1986. pp. 396-405.


43 item


Forty-three letters from American poet Sara Teasdale to Orrick Johns, friend, fellow poet, and editor, as well as one letter to Teasdale from Wilfred Funk, author, poet, and famed dictionary publisher.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, 1985

Related Materials in this Repository

This item forms part of MSS 0099 Miscellaneous Literary and Historical Manuscripts.

MSS 0111, Louis Untermeyer papers

MSS 0142, Sara Teasdale letters to Joyce and Aline Kilmer

Shelving Summary

Box 12, F0252: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0099 manuscript boxes

Processing Information

Processed by Anita A. Wellner, 1998. Encoded by Jaime Margalotti, August 2019.

Finding aid for Sara Teasdale letters to Orrick Johns
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2019 August 14
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

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