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Louis Untermeyer correspondence with John D. Weaver

Identifier: MSS 0441

Scope and Contents

The Louis Untermeyer - John D. Weaver Collection spans the years 1938 (the year of the initial meeting of Untermeyer and Weaver) through 1995. The bulk of the collection is concentrated in the period 1939 through 1977, the year of Untermeyer’s death. The collection consists largely of letters, together with clippings, manuscripts and letters with other correspondents exchanged by Untermeyer and Weaver. Taken together, the material thoroughly documents the forty years friendship between the two writers.

In their correspondence, Untermeyer and Weaver shared literary and political news, as well as personal information. The correspondence included in the collection contains discussions of works-in-progress and reactions by Untermeyer and Weaver to each other’s work. Letters from the early 1950s include Untermeyer’s descriptions of the effect of blacklisting on his career. Untermeyer also describes encounters with other literary figures, including Robert Frost, Arthur Miller, and Erica Jong. The correspondence was “couple-to-couple.” Typically Untermeyer’s letters are addressed to “John and Harriet” (Weaver’s wife). Letters from Untermeyer are usually signed “Louis and Esther,” or “Louis and Bryna” (Untermeyer’s fourth and fifth wives). A significant number of letters were written by Bryna Untermeyer to John and Harriet Weaver. Following Untermeyer’s death in 1977, Weaver maintained the correspondence with his widow, Bryna, until her death in 1985. Beginning in 1962, Weaver retained carbon copies of his letters to Untermeyer.

The collection also includes a number of manuscripts by both Untermeyer and Weaver. In the years immediately preceding his death, Untermeyer wrote two articles for Travel and Leisure. Due to Weaver’s association with the magazine, Untermeyer submitted the articles through him. In the case of “The Lucky Eleven” (1977), the collection includes Untermeyer’s typed draft with corrections in his hand.

Item counts in the Finding Aid refer to the number of letters, not including enclosures of clippings or letters from other correspondents that Untermeyer and Weaver exchanged. The item counts are intended to provide a general idea of the extent of the correspondence during a given period.


  • Creation: 1938-1995
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1939-1977


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

Louis Untermeyer (1885-1977) was an American author, anthologist, and editor. Over the course of his long career, Untermeyer published over a hundred books of prose and poetry. He is particularly noted for his influential poetry anthologies which early promoted the work of poets like Robert Frost, T.S. Eliot, and Ezra Pound.

A high school drop-out, Untermeyer went to work for his father’s jewelry business at the age of sixteen. He remained until 1923 when he resigned to devote his efforts full-time to literature. By the time of his resignation, Untermeyer had already published several volumes of his own verse and the first of his anthologies of American and British poetry. During the next fifty-five years, Untermeyer published “biographies, children’s books, travel reminiscences, literary essays, translations, and a novel,” in addition to his own poetry and his anthologies of poetry. He was a long-time friend of Robert Frost, and, in 1963, published Letters of Robert Frost to Louis Untermeyer, documenting his half-century of correspondence with the poet.

Untermeyer was senior editor of publications with the Office of War Information and editor for Armed Forces Editions during World War II. He served as cultural editor for Decca Records after the war until 1958. In the early 1950s he was a regular on the CBS television program “What’s My Line,” but was forced out by pressure resulting from unsubstantiated charges of radicalism. During the 1961-62 term, he was consultant on poetry for the Library of Congress. Untermeyer was also a popular lecturer and held many appointments as poet-in-residence at colleges and universities across the United States.

The American writer John D. Weaver (b. 1912) began his career as a reporter and feature writer for the Kansas City Star in 1935. From 1940 he worked as a freelance writer in California. He has written two novels and numerous articles, stories and reviews for publications like Harper’s, Atlantic Monthly, and the Saturday Evening Post. His historical work, The Brownsville Raid, was instrumental in re-opening the case of 167 black infantrymen who had been dishonorably discharged from the army in 1910. The soldiers were exonerated in 1972. His story, “Holiday Affair,” was made into a movie starring Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh in 1946, and remade for television in 1996. Weaver served as West Coast editor for Holiday magazine in 1964-65, and as an editor for Travel & Leisure beginning in 1971.

Untermeyer and Weaver met in Kansas City in 1938 when Untermeyer was poet-in-residence at Kansas City University and Weaver was a feature writer for the Kansas City Times. During Untermeyer’s stay in Kansas City, Weaver’s wife, Harriet, served as Untermeyer’s secretary for his anthology, Stars to Steer By. The resulting forty year friendship produced the correspondence that comprises the bulk of this collection.

Louis Untermeyer.” Contemporary Authors Online. The Gale Group, 2000. Retrieved April 22, 2002 from“John D. Weaver.” Contemporary Authors Online. The Gale Group, 1999. Retrieved April 22, 2002 from, Louis. Bygones: The Recollections of Louis Untermeyer. New York: Harcourt Brace & World, Inc., 1965.Other information derived from the collection.


1 linear foot (1 box)

1 oversize removal


Leters, together with clippings, manuscripts and letters with other correspondents exchanged by American author, anthologist, and editor Louis Untermeyer and American writer John D. Weaver.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, August 2001

Related Materials in this Repository

MSS 0111, Louis Untermeyer papers

Shelving Summary

Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS record center cartons

Removals: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize boxes (32 inches)

Processing Information

Processed by Kevin Burke, April 2002. Encoded by Jaime Margalotti, July 2021.

Finding aid for Louis Untermeyer correspondence with John D. Weaver
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2021 July 19
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

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Newark DE 19717-5267 USA