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Robert E. Spiller collection

Identifier: MSS 0099-F0232

Scope and Contents

The Robert E. Spiller Collection consists of twenty-six letters, reviews, articles, or printed items related to or collected by Spiller. The items are sorted into several small groups. The first group consists of seven letters written to Spiller congratulating him on his recently published article, “Sidney Lanier: Ancestor of Anti-Realism.” A photocopy of the article, which appeared in the January 10, 1948 issue of The Saturday Review, and a letter from the editor complete this group.

A second set of four items is related to Spiller’s review of Sheldon Norman Grebstein’s John O’Hara, written at the request of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in 1967. The letter of request, a program, a typescript (carbon) draft of the review, and tear sheets of the published article are present.

The next group of five items concerns Spiller’s review of two books written by Thomas Wolfe. The review appeared in the autumn 1963 issue of Sewanee Review. Items documenting this review are a letter requesting the review, a carbon copy of Spiller’s letter of acceptance, a typescript (carbon) draft of the review, a printed image of Wolfe, and tear sheets of the published article.

The remaining items comprise a miscellany of literary ephemera, including printed and photocopied articles and a one-page bibliography on The Grapes of Wrath. Tear sheets or photocopies of articles concerning Eugene O’Neill and Robert Penn Warren, a brochure advertising books written by Kenneth Patchen, and newsletters published by P.E.N. (1955 Nov) and the Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial (1957) complete the collection.


  • Creation: 1947-1966

Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Access Information

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

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 author and scholar Robert E. Spiller was born November 13, 1896 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was educated at the University of Pennsylvania, receiving an AB in 1917, an MA in 1921 and a Ph.D. in 1924.

The majority of Robert Spiller’s teaching career was spent at the University of Pennsylvania, where he taught from 1920 to 1967. In 1967 he retired from the University as Felix E. Schelling Professor of English Literature Emeritus. He was a visiting lecturer at numerous universities and conferences, such as Duke University (1927), Harvard University (1930), Columbia University (1931, 1937), University of Oslo (1950), University of London (1958-1959), and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference (1938). Robert Spiller’s contributions to the field of American literary history were recognized with honorary degrees from Thiel College, College of Wooster, University of Kiel, and the University of Pennsylvania.

A scholar in the field of American literary history, Spiller wrote such critical studies as Fenimore Cooper: Critic of His Times (1931), The Cycle of American Literature: An Essay in Historical Criticism (1955), and Milestones in American Literary History (1977). He was also the editor of numerous literary texts, a reviewer of books, and a contributor to encyclopedias, newspapers, and professional journals. Robert E. Spiller died in August 1988 in Philadelphia, PA.

Biographical information derived from the collection.Robert E. Spiller.” Contemporary Authors Online. The Gale Group, 2001. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: The Gale Group, 2002. Retrieved June 1, 2002 from


26 item


The Robert E. Spiller collection consists of twenty-six letters, reviews, articles, or printed items related to or collected by the professor and scholar of American literary history.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, October 1981

Materials Cataloged Separately

Some of printed ephemera were originally laid in books from the personal library of Spiller. The books have been cataloged and are available in either Special Collections or Morris Library. Any item removed from a book has a penciled notation on the item naming the book.

Shelving Summary

Box 11, F0232: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0099 manuscript boxes.

Processing Information

Processed by Anita A. Wellner, June 2002. Encoded by Jaime Margalotti, November 2019.

Finding aid for Robert E. Spiller collection
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2019 November 7
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

181 South College Avenue
Newark DE 19717-5267 USA