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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Accruals
  • Related Collections
  • Related Collections Outside of Stanford
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Title: Joseph Brodsky papers
    Date (inclusive): 1964-2013
    Collection Number: 88072
    Contributing Institution: Hoover Institution Archives
    Language of Material: Russian and English
    Physical Description: 2 manuscript boxes, 2 oversize boxes, 1 oversize folder (4.5 linear feet)
    Abstract: Correspondence, poems, other writings, printed matter, photographs, and drawings relating to Russian literature and dissent. Includes transcript of 1964 trial of Joseph Brodsky in the Soviet Union. Mainly collected by Diana Myers. Includes some papers of Diana Myers.
    Physical Location: Hoover Institution Archives
    Creator: Brodsky, Joseph, 1940-1996


    Collection is open for research.
    The Hoover Institution Archives only allows access to copies of audiovisual items. To listen to sound recordings or to view videos or films during your visit, please contact the Archives at least two working days before your arrival. We will then advise you of the accessibility of the material you wish to see or hear. Please note that not all audiovisual material is immediately accessible.

    Publication Rights

    For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Joseph Brodsky papers, [Box no.], Hoover Institution Archives.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives in 1988 and 2016.


    Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. To determine if this has occurred, find the collection in Stanford University's online catalog at http://searchworks.stanford.edu/ . Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in the online catalog is larger than the number of boxes listed in this finding aid.

    Related Collections

    Irwin and Shirley Holzman collection, Hoover Institution Archives
    Gleb Struve papers, Hoover Institution Archives
    Joseph Brodsky papers from the archives of the Katilius family, Stanford Special Collections

    Related Collections Outside of Stanford

    Joseph Brodsky Papers. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

    Biographical Note

    Joseph Brodsky (24 May 1940 – 28 January 1996) was a Russian and American poet and essayist.
    Born in Leningrad in 1940, Brodsky disliked Soviet school education and ended his formal schooling at the age of fifteen. He then worked in various places, including a factory and a morgue, and was a part of geological expeditions. He began writing poetry as a teenager and soon became interested in translating poetry, for which he taught himself Polish and English. In 1960 he was introduced to Anna Akhmatova, one of the leading poets of the Silver Age. She encouraged his work and would go on to become his mentor. Brodsky's early writings in the Soviet Union were circulated in samizdat (self-published) collections.
    In 1963, Brodsky's poetry was denounced by a Leningrad newspaper as "pornographic and anti-Soviet." His papers were confiscated, and he was interrogated, twice put in a mental institution, and arrested. He was charged with "social parasitism" and sentenced to five years of exile in the village of Norenskaia (Arkhangel'skaia oblast', northern Russia), where he lived from March 1964 through October 1965 and wrote prolifically. The authorities were forced to allow Brodsky to return to Leningrad after eighteen months of exile by protests of preeminent Soviet cultural figures, including poet Anna Akhmatova and composer Dmitriî Shostakovich. Brodsky's trial and sentence brought him international attention when Frida Vigdorova's court transcript started circulating in the Western media. Around this time his first book Stikhotvoreniia i poemy, edited by Gleb Struve and Boris Filippov, was published in the United States (Washington, D.C. & New York: Inter-Language Literary Associates).
    In 1972, Brodsky was suddenly granted a visa (for which he had not applied) to immigrate to Israel. He had to leave Russia within a matter of weeks and never returned. After a short stay in Vienna and London, Brodsky settled in the United States and spent his first year as poet in residence at Michigan University, Ann Arbor. He taught thereafter at Mount Holyoke College, Yale, Columbia, Cambridge, Michigan, and other universities.
    Brodsky was awarded the 1987 Nobel Prize in Literature "for an all-embracing authorship, imbued with clarity of thought and poetic intensity." He was appointed U.S. Poet Laureate in 1991.
    Among Brodsky's many other awards and honors are a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (1977), a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Award (1981), a National Book Critics Circle Award (1986), France's Order of the Legion of Honor (1991), and honorary degrees from Yale University (1978), Dartmouth College (1989), and Oxford University (1991).
    During his lifetime, much of Brodsky's collected poetry and prose was published by Ardis in Ann Arbor, Michigan (Russian-language poetry), and Farrar, Straus and Giroux in New York (English-language poetry, English translations, and prose collections).
    Brodsky suffered from heart disease throughout his adult life and had several open-heart surgeries. He died of heart failure on January 28, 1996.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Joseph Brodsky's papers, meticulously collected by his longtime friend Diana Myers, include their correspondence from 1968 (when they both lived in Leningrad) through 1970 to 1972 (when Brodsky still lived in Leningrad, while Diana married Alan Myers and left for London), and through Brodsky's life in the United States. The most intensive correspondence between them (1970–1980) relates to Brodsky's last two years in the Soviet Union before immigration (1970–1972) and his first years in the United States. These sincere and direct letters document Brodsky's life as he was establishing himself in the United States.
    In London Brodsky often stayed at the home of Diana and her husband, Alan Myers, who translated Brodsky's poetry into English. Letters to Brodsky from various people during these times, as well as Diana's own letters to Brodsky and letters to her from various people concerning Brodsky, were preserved by Diana. She also saved Brodsky's notes and ink and chalk drawings.
    The papers also document Brodsky's professional life through his writings, including drafts, holographs, typescripts, and computer-generated texts, allowing us to catch a glimpse of stages of his work. Photographs, mostly taken by Diana during the 1991 conference in memory of Osip Mandelstam, depict Brodsky in informal discussions. Materials from Brodsky's memorial services include invitations, programs, and tributes. The papers also include the proceedings of Joseph Brodsky's trial on charges of social parasitism in the court of Leningrad's Dzerzhinskii district.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Dissenters--Soviet Union.
    Political crimes and offenses--Soviet Union.
    Russian literature.