Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Donald Allen Collection
Identifier/Call Number: MSS 0003
Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, California, 92093-0175
48.0 Linear feet
(105 archives boxes, 1 records carton, 1 card file box, 34 oversize folders)
Date (inclusive): 1930 - 2005
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
(1980) by Edward Dorn and
(1983) by Aaron Shurin; and the Grey Fox Press publication of
(1980) by Philip Whalen and
(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.
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.
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.
Acquired 1978, 1989, 2010.
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.
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