DICKEY, JAMES.
James Dickey papers, circa 1924-1997

Emory University

Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322

404-727-6887

rose.library@emory.edu

Permanent link: http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/8z712

Collection Stored Off-Site

All or portions of this collection are housed off-site. Materials can still be requested but researchers should expect a delay of up to two business days for retrieval.


Descriptive Summary

Creator: Dickey, James.
Title: James Dickey papers, circa 1924-1997
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 745
Extent: 204.75 linear feet (430) boxes), 11 oversized papers boxes and 19 oversized papers folders (OP), 21 bound volumes (BV), 1 oversized bound volume (OBV), and AV Masters: 1.25 linear feet (2 boxes)
Abstract:Personal and literary papers of American poet and novelist James Dickey, including correspondence, manuscripts, personal notebooks, printed material, photographs, and sound recordings.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on access

Special restrictions apply: Collection stored off-site. Researchers must contact the Rose Library in advance to access this collection.

Due to the fragile nature of the World War II correspondence in Subseries 1.4, researchers are required to use the photocopies.

Use copies have not been made for all of the audiovisual series at this time. Researchers must contact the Rose Library in advance for access to these materials.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.

Related Materials in Other Repositories

James Dickey papers, Washington University, St. Louis.

Source

Purchase, 1993, with subsequent additions.

Citation

[after identification of item(s)], James Dickey papers, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.

Processing

Processed by Pat Clark, 2001.


Collection Description

Biographical Note

James Lafayette Dickey was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on February 2, 1923 to Eugene and Maibelle Swift Dickey. He attended North Fulton High School in Atlanta and the Darlington School for Boys in Rome, Georgia, before going on to Clemson College (now University) in Clemson, South Carolina. His college education, however, was interrupted by the war; from 1942-1946 he served with the Army Air Corps, flying numerous missions in the Pacific theater. After completing his military service in 1946, Dickey attended Vanderbilt University where he majored in English. Dickey and Maxine Syerson were married on November 4, 1948; the following year he graduated magna cum laude and was awarded a graduate fellowship to continue his studies. He received his M.A. degree the following year.

After graduating from Vanderbilt, Dickey took a teaching position at Rice Institute in Houston, Texas. While at Rice, he was recalled to active duty to serve as a military instructor for airmen serving in the Korean War. At the end of this second military stint, Dickey received a Sewanee Review fellowship that allowed him to take his family abroad. On returning from Europe, he accepted a teaching position at the University of Florida, largely at the instigation of Andrew Lytle who was then on the faculty. It was at a Gainesville reading that Dickey offended his audience with his poem "The Father's Body." When he was asked for an apology, he chose instead to resign his teaching position.

In 1956 Dickey began a new career as a copywriter for the New York advertising firm McCann-Erickson with primary responsibility for the Coca-Cola account. Two years later he returned to Atlanta where he continued to write both advertising copy and poetry. During the late 1950s, Dickey also worked briefly for smaller firms Liller Neal and Burke Dowling Adams.

In 1960 Dickey's first book-length work was published, Into the Stone, followed two years later by Drowning With Others. A Guggenheim fellowship allowed him to give up advertising writing and to return to Europe where he worked on his third collection, Helmets (1964). On returning to the States, Dickey accepted a position as poet-in-residence at Reed College in Oregon, followed by positions at San Fernando Valley State College (1964-1965) and the University of Wisconsin (1966).

The publication of Buckdancer's Choice in 1965 brought Dickey his first major recognition, the National Book Award in poetry in 1966, followed by the appointment to a two-year term as Consultant in Poetry at the Library of Congress. During the late 1960s Dickey's notoriety grew even more as a result of his frequent readings, which he described as "barnstorming for poetry." In 1967 his early poetry was issued in a collected edition, Poems, 1957-1967. In 1969 Dickey accepted the appointment to Carolina Professor of English at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, a position he has held now for over twenty-five years.

In 1970 Dickey published a volume of verse, The Eye-Beaters, Blood, Victory, Madness, Buckhead and Mercy, as well as the highly successful novel Deliverance, and an autobiographical work, Self-Interviews. As a result of his work on the screenplay for Deliverance (Dickey played the role of the sheriff in the film), Dickey became interested in script writing, and in 1975 he adapted Jack London's Call of the Wild for television. In October 1976 Dickey's wife, Maxine, died; Dickey married Deborah Dodson later that year. Other books published during the decade include Jericho: The South Beheld (1974), The Zodiac (1976), and God's Images (1977). Dickey read the title poem from his 1979 collection The Strength of Fields at the inauguration of President Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Babel to Byzantium (1981) brought together much of Dickey's critical writing. Published the same year were The Early Motion, and Falling, May Day Sermon and Other Poems. During the 1980s, Dickey continued to issue frequent collections, among them Puella, The Central Motion, False Youth-Four Seasons, and Night Hurdling. Dickey's second novel, Alnilam, was published in 1987. His collected poems were published in 1992 followed by his third novel, To the White Sea, in 1993. While pursuing his literary career, Dickey also remained an active member of the English Department faculty at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. Dickey died January 19, 1997, in Columbia.

James Lafayette Dickey was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on February 2, 1923 to Eugene and Maibelle Swift Dickey. He attended North Fulton High School in Atlanta and the Darlington School for Boys in Rome, Georgia, before going on to Clemson College (now University) in Clemson, South Carolina. His college education, however, was interrupted by the war; from 1942-1946 he served with the Army Air Corps, flying numerous missions in the Pacific theater. After completing his military service in 1946, Dickey attended Vanderbilt University where he majored in English. Dickey and Maxine Syerson were married on November 4, 1948; the following year he graduated magna cum laude and was awarded a graduate fellowship to continue his studies. He received his M.A. degree the following year.

After graduating from Vanderbilt, Dickey took a teaching position at Rice Institute in Houston, Texas. While at Rice, he was recalled to active duty to serve as a military instructor for airmen serving in the Korean War. At the end of this second military stint, Dickey received a Sewanee Review fellowship that allowed him to take his family abroad. On returning from Europe, he accepted a teaching position at the University of Florida, largely at the instigation of Andrew Lytle who was then on the faculty. It was at a Gainesville reading that Dickey offended his audience with his poem "The Father's Body." When he was asked for an apology, he chose instead to resign his teaching position.

In 1956 Dickey began a new career as a copywriter for the New York advertising firm McCann-Erickson with primary responsibility for the Coca-Cola account. Two years later he returned to Atlanta where he continued to write both advertising copy and poetry. During the late 1950s, Dickey also worked briefly for smaller firms Liller Neal and Burke Dowling Adams.

In 1960 Dickey's first book-length work was published, Into the Stone, followed two years later by Drowning With Others. A Guggenheim fellowship allowed him to give up advertising writing and to return to Europe where he worked on his third collection, Helmets (1964). On returning to the States, Dickey accepted a position as poet-in-residence at Reed College in Oregon, followed by positions at San Fernando Valley State College (1964-1965) and the University of Wisconsin (1966).

The publication of Buckdancer's Choice in 1965 brought Dickey his first major recognition, the National Book Award in poetry in 1966, followed by the appointment to a two-year term as Consultant in Poetry at the Library of Congress. During the late 1960s Dickey's notoriety grew even more as a result of his frequent readings, which he described as "barnstorming for poetry." In 1967 his early poetry was issued in a collected edition, Poems, 1957-1967. In 1969 Dickey accepted the appointment to Carolina Professor of English at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, a position he has held now for over twenty-five years.

In 1970 Dickey published a volume of verse, The Eye-Beaters, Blood, Victory, Madness, Buckhead and Mercy, as well as the highly successful novel Deliverance, and an autobiographical work, Self-Interviews. As a result of his work on the screenplay for Deliverance (Dickey played the role of the sheriff in the film), Dickey became interested in script writing, and in 1975 he adapted Jack London's Call of the Wild for television. In October 1976 Dickey's wife, Maxine, died; Dickey married Deborah Dodson later that year. Other books published during the decade include Jericho: The South Beheld (1974), The Zodiac (1976), and God's Images (1977). Dickey read the title poem from his 1979 collection The Strength of Fields at the inauguration of President Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Babel to Byzantium (1981) brought together much of Dickey's critical writing. Published the same year were The Early Motion, and Falling, May Day Sermon and Other Poems. During the 1980s, Dickey continued to issue frequent collections, among them Puella, The Central Motion, False Youth-Four Seasons, and Night Hurdling. Dickey's second novel, Alnilam, was published in 1987. His collected poems were published in 1992 followed by his third novel, To the White Sea, in 1993. While pursuing his literary career, Dickey also remained an active member of the English Department faculty at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. Dickey died January 19, 1997, in Columbia.

Scope and Content Note

The James Dickey papers include correspondence, literary manuscripts (by Dickey and others), notebooks, military records, teaching material, subject files, appointment books, collected printed material, audio-visual materials, photographs, and miscellaneous family, financial, and legal papers dating from 1930-1997 (bulk 1961-1997). The largest part of the collection is made up of correspondence (92 boxes) which is arranged chronologically and includes letters to and from family, friends, and literary associates. Prominent correspondents include: Robert Bly, Donald Hall, Richard Howard, Andrew Lytle, Willie Morris, Howard Nemerov, Theodore Roethke, Dave Smith, Ann Stanford, Richard Tillinghast, and Robert Penn Warren. (A selected index to this portion of the collection is available.) The subject files are also quite extensive (53 boxes) and include additional correspondence and other items arranged in Dickey's original filing order.

The literary manuscripts in the Dickey papers (82 boxes) include some of Dickey's earliest literary efforts in the 1940s up to his death in 1997. Present are numerous drafts of individual poems, as well as multiple drafts of his novels, Deliverance, Alnilam, and To the White Sea. Numerous reviews and critical essays, as well as screenplays and personal notebooks are also present. The collection also includes manuscripts by many other writers who sent their work to Dickey for his remarks or as a courtesy to him. Among the writers represented here are: Donald Hall, Richard Hugo, Dave Smith, and Ann Stanford.

The Dickey papers also include extensive files of publications and clippings collected by Dickey. Many of these publications either feature work by him or include references to his life or work. The photographs in the collection span approximately the same fifty-year period and document many of Dickey's public appearances during those years as well as the activities of family members. The collection also includes papers documenting his teaching career, original audio-visual materials in a variety of formats, memorabilia relating primarily to honors and awards for his work, and a small group of papers relating to Dickey's military service and to his financial affairs.

Arrangement Note

Organized into sixteen series: (1) Correspondence, (2) Writings by James Dickey, (3) Writings by others, (4) Military service, (5) Teaching career, (6) Subject files, (7) Appointment books, calendars, and itineraries, (8) Printed material, (9) Clippings, (10) Photographs, (11) Audio-visual materials, (12) Miscellaneous family papers, (13) Financial and legal papers, (14) Awards/ honors, (15) Memorabilia, and (16) Posthumously created materials.

Finding Aid Note

A name index of selected correspondents is available.


Selected Search Terms

Personal Names

Topical Terms

Form/Genre Terms

Occupation


Description of Series

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