Papers of Kenward Elmslie, a writer, performer, editor and publisher associated with the New York School. Elmslie's lyrics
and libretti for operas and musicals,
Miss Julie (1965),
Lizzie Borden (1966),
The Sweet Bye and Bye (1966),
The Grass Harp (1972), and
The Seagull (1974), brought a contemporary style to the language of musical theatre. The collection documents his literary career and
personal life, with the bulk of the material spanning the period from 1965-2000.
Kenward Gray Elmslie was born in New York City on April 27, 1929, to William Gray Elmslie, a British businessperson, and
Constance Pulitzer, daughter of newspaper magnate Joseph Pulitzer. His early childhood was spent in Colorado Springs, Colorado,
and he attended preparatory schools in Virginia, Ohio and Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard in 1950 with a B.A. in
literature and began his writing career as a lyricist and librettist, writing witty and melodic songs in collaboration with
His published work for the musical theatre includes The Sweet Bye and Bye (1966) and Lizzie Borden (1966), music by Jack Beeson; Miss Julie (1965), music by Ned Rorem, and three works with composer Thomas Pasatieri, The Seagull (1974), Washington Square (1976), and Three Sisters (1986). Elmslie also wrote both the book and lyrics for a musical, The Grass Harp (1972) based on Truman Capote's 1951 novel. In 1993, Elmslie wrote and subsequently performed Postcards on Parade his one-man conceptual musical play incorporating Elmslie's collage works with performance art and his love of postcards.
80 Linear feet
(124 archives boxes, 18 records cartons, 10 card file boxes, 10 flat boxes, and 2 map case folders)
Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.
Boxes 92-94 contain delicate originals that have been preservation photocopied. Permission is required from the director of
Special Collections & Archives to access these boxes. Original tapes and video formats in series 17) and 18) AUDIOVISUAL RECORDINGS
are restricted. Patrons may request user copies be produced in advance.