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Donald Allen Collection
MSS 0003  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Biography
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Donald Allen Collection
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS 0003
    Contributing Institution: Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego
    9500 Gilman Drive
    La Jolla, California, 92093-0175
    Languages: English
    Physical Description: 48.0 Linear feet (105 archives boxes, 1 records carton, 1 card file box, 34 oversize folders)
    Date (inclusive): 1930 - 2005
    Abstract: Papers of Donald Allen, an important editor who had a significant impact on the development of post WWII American poetry. The Donald Allen Collection consists of materials pertaining to the editorial work at Grove Press, Four Seasons Foundation, Grey Fox Press, and to special projects Allen did for the University of California, Penguin and St. James presses; materials produced by and regarding the poet Frank O'Hara; papers written by Allen at the Universities of Iowa and California, Berkeley; and finally a substantial correspondence with many of the most important writers and editors in America during the last twenty five years. The addition processed in 1991 contains manuscript and typescript materials related to the Four Seasons Foundation publication of Interviews (1980) by Edward Dorn and The Graces (1983) by Aaron Shurin; and the Grey Fox Press publication of Enough Said (1980) by Philip Whalen and I Remain (1980), a collection of Lew Welch's letters. The addition processed in 2011 enhances the earlier accessions with additional press files, correspondence, as well as Allen's personal subject files.
    Creator: Allen, Donald, 1912-2004

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Papers of editor Donald Allen, who had a significant impact on the development of post WWII American poetry. The Donald Allen Collection consists of materials pertaining to the editorial work at Grove Press, Four Seasons Foundation, Grey Fox Press, and to special projects Allen did for the University of California, Penguin and St. James presses; materials produced by and regarding the poet Frank O'Hara; papers written by Allen at the Universities of Iowa and California, Berkeley; and finally a substantial correspondence with many of the most important writers and editors in America during the last twenty five years. As a whole, the Donald Allen Collection richly documents the American literary temperament ca. 1956-1980, casting much light on the compositional practices and biographies of many important poets.
    Accession Processed in 1986
    The papers document the editing and publishing accomplishments of Donald Allen, and incidentally inform many literary careers. Although there is material from the 1930s, the bulk of papers date from 1957 to 1975. Arranged in four series: 1) PRESS COLLECTIONS, 2) FRANK O'HARA MATERIALS, 3) PERSONAL PAPERS, and 4) GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE.
    Accession Processed in 1991
    The accession to the Donald Allen Collection processed in 1991 contains materials which Allen employed in the publication of Four Seasons Foundation and Grey Fox Press books. Arranged in one series: 5) PRESS COLLECTIONS.
    Accession Processed in 2011
    This accession of the Donald Allen Collection includes documents which span the entire arc of the editor and publisher's career and personal life. The material dates from 1930 up to his death in 2004, although the bulk of the correspondence and press files range from 1955 to 2004. This addition illuminates Allen's personal life with biographical materials, personal correspondence, and his own subject files, notes, writings, and notebooks. The collection almost completely retains Allen's own organization of the materials.
    Arranged in two series: 6) PRESS COLLECTIONS and 7) PERSONAL PAPERS.

    Biography

    Donald Allen, one of the most influential editors and publishers of contemporary American literature, was born in Iowa in 1912. During the Second World War he was a Japanese translator, and then became an editor at Grove Press, where he stayed for sixteen years. Allen devoted his career to making innovative writing available to the public. He has edited several important anthologies of contemporary American writing and has published the work of many important poets through his two presses.
    Allen's editorial career began in the mid fifties when he accepted a position with Grove Press. One of his early projects was a collection of work by Brother Antoninus (William Everson), Robert Duncan, Kenneth Rexroth, Gary Snyder, Jack Spicer, and other poets of the San Francisco Renaissance for an issue of Grove's Evergreen Review (1957). He also aided in editing The Eye of Mexico, an Evergreen issue devoted to contemporary Mexican writing and culture. During these first years at Grove, Allen translated several of Eugene Ionesco's theatre works, including The Bald Soprano (Grove, 1958), and edited books by Jack Kerouac, John Rechy, Lysander Kemp, and others.
    In 1958, Allen began work on his most important project at Grove, The New American Poetry anthology. Following the Pound/Williams tradition, Allen hoped to present the range of experimental writing produced in the United States since the Second World War. The project took two years to complete and required extensive correspondence with poets, editors, and literary agents. Finally published in 1960, the anthology chronicled the emergence of the Beat, Black Mountain, and New York schools of poetry. It also increased recognition for such poets as Robert Duncan, Robert Creeley, Denise Levertov, Paul Blackburn, and Charles Olson. Allen originally planned to publish revised anthologies every two or three years. However, he produced only two such books over the next twenty years: New American Writing (Penguin, 1965), and The Postmoderns (Grove, 1965).
    Other anthologies compiled by Allen are The New American Story (Grove, 1963), a collection of experimental prose, and The Poetics of the New American Poetry (Grove, 1973), a collection of aesthetic statements by many of the poets appearing in the anthologies. Like The New American Poetry, each of these collections has had a major impact on the shape and scope of experimental American writing. In 1963 Allen reduced his workload at Grove Press by moving to the position of consulting editor. He planned to start his own magazine of contemporary American writing, but the Four Seasons Quarterly never materialized. However, his work on the magazine did lead to the establishment of the Four Seasons Foundation and, subsequently, the Grey Fox Press. Under Allen's direction since 1964, both of these presses have published the work of such poets as Charles Olson, Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, Philip Whalen, Lew Welch and many others.
    Donald Allen died August 29, 2004, in San Francisco, at the age of 92.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired 1978, 1989, 2010.

    Preferred Citation

    Donald Allen Collection, MSS 3. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Adam, Helen, 1909-1993 -- Correspondence
    Allen, Donald, 1912-2004 -- Archives
    Ashbery, John, 1927- -- Correspondence
    Berkson, Bill -- Correspondence
    Blackburn, Paul -- Correspondence
    Blaser, Robin -- Correspondence
    Boyd, Bruce -- Correspondence
    Boyle, Kay, 1902-1992 -- Correspondence
    Brautigan, Richard -- Correspondence
    Bremser, Ray -- Correspondence
    Broughton, James, 1913-1999 -- Correspondence
    Corman, Cid -- Correspondence
    Corso, Gregory -- Correspondence
    Creeley, Robert, 1926-2005 -- Correspondence
    Di Prima, Diane -- Correspondence
    Dorn, Edward -- Correspondence
    Duncan, Robert, 1919-1988 -- Correspondence
    Eigner, Larry, 1927-1996 -- Correspondence
    Evergreen Press Ltd.
    Everson, William, 1912-1994 -- Correspondence
    Ferlinghetti, Lawrence -- Correspondence
    Field, Edward, 1924- -- Correspondence
    Four Seasons Foundation.
    Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997 -- Correspondence
    Grey Fox Press.
    Grove Press.
    Guest, Barbara -- Correspondence
    Hall, Donald, 1928-
    Hoyem, Andrew -- Correspondence
    Ionesco, Eugène -- Correspondence
    Kemp, Lysander, 1920-1992 -- Correspondence
    Kerouac, Jack, 1922-1969 -- Correspondence
    Koller, James -- Correspondence
    Kyger, Joanne -- Correspondence
    Lamantia, Philip, 1927-2005 -- Correspondence
    Levertov, Denise, 1923-1997 -- Correspondence
    Loewinsohn, Ron -- Correspondence
    Mac Low, Jackson -- Correspondence
    McClure, Michael -- Correspondence
    Meltzer, David -- Correspondence
    O'Hara, Frank, 1926-1966 -- Correspondence
    Olson, Charles, 1910-1970 -- Correspondence
    Rumaker, Michael, 1932- -- Correspondence
    Sanders, Ed -- Correspondence
    Schaff, David -- Correspondence
    Schuyler, James -- Correspondence
    Snyder, Gary, 1930-
    Waldman, Anne, 1945- -- Correspondence
    Welch, Lew -- Correspondence
    Whalen, Philip -- Correspondence
    Wieners, John, 1934-2002 -- Correspondence
    Williams, Jonathan, 1929-2008 -- Correspondence
    Williams, William Carlos, 1883-1963 -- Correspondence
    Zukofsky, Louis, 1904-1978 -- Correspondence
    American poetry -- 20th century
    Poetry -- 20th century -- Manuscripts
    Poetry -- Editing
    Publishers and publishing -- United States