Register of the Joseph Brodsky papers

Finding aid prepared by Lora Soroka
Hoover Institution Archives
434 Galvez Mall
Stanford University
Stanford, CA, 94305-6010
(650) 723-3563
© 2016

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 . 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.


Biographical File, 1964-1997

Box/Folder 1 : 1

Transcript of Joseph Brodsky's trial in Leningrad (Saint-Petersburg), 1964


Honorary degrees, 1981-1991

Arrangement Statement

Arranged chronologically.
Box/Folder 1 : 1

Nomination for Honorary Degree, University of Birmingham, draft, 1981

Language of Material: English
Map case

Honorary Diploma of Doctor of Letters, Oxford University, 1986

Box/Folder 1 : 1

Encaenia, Honorary Degrees, University of Oxford, 1991 June 19

Scope and Contents note

A booklet listing recipients of honorary degrees on 19 June 1991.
Box/Folder 1 : 2

Memorial and commemoration services, 1996-1997

Language of Material: English

Memorial service at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, program and invitation, 1996 March 8


"Each Man Before God Is Naked: A Tribute to the Russian Joseph Brodsky," Steiner Theatre, London, program and flyer, 1996 July 11


Tribute to Joseph Brodsky at the Brunei Gallery organized by Diana Myers, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, London University, 1997 January 31

Scope and Contents note

Includes a planning document, a program, an invitation, texts of presentations by Seamus Heaney and Diana Myers, and related correspondence.

Correspondence, 1967-1992


Diana Myers, 1967-1992

Arrangement Statement

Arranged chronologically.

Letters to her, 1967-1992

Language of Material: Russian
Box/Folder 1 : 3

From Leningrad, 1967-1972, undated

Box/Folder 1 : 4-5

From the United States, 1972-1992, undated

Scope and Contents note

Holograph and photocopies. Includes letters and postcards to her husband Alan Myers, 1972-1985 and undated.
Box/Folder 1 : 6

Letters from her, 1970s-1989

Language of Material: Russian
Box/Folder 1 : 7

With others, 1977-1991

Arrangement Statement

Arranged alphabetically by last name of correspondent.

Unidentified, 1978

Scope and Contents

Arranged alphabetically by name of sender.

Bearden, Maureen, 1982, undated

Language of Material: English

Heyman, Arlene, 1988

Language of Material: English

Iakimchuk, N., 1991

Language of Material: Russian

Jangfeldt, Bengt, 1988

Language of Material: Russian

Klass, Stephen I., 1988

Language of Material: English

Scope and Contents

Includes two poems by Werner Asperström.

Korobova, Era, 1991

Language of Material: Russian

Scope and Contents note

Photocopies. Includes drawing by Brodsky in verso of letter pages.

Kruzhkov, Grigoriî, 1987

Language of Material: Russian

Murray, Les, 1986

Language of Material: English

Naiman, Anatoliî (photocopy), 1977


Polukhina, Valentina (letter to her), 1988


Reidel, Jim

Language of Material: English

Reîn, Evgeniî, 1988

Language of Material: Russian

Skidelskiî, I., 1978

Language of Material: Russian

Swainson, Bill, 1991


Ufliand, Vladimir (?), 1991

Language of Material: Russian

Yevtushenko, Yevgeniî, 1977

Language of Material: Russian
Box/Folder 1 : 8

Notes, 1977, 1982, undated

Scope and Contents note

Some notes include ink drawings by Brodsky.

Drawings, 1977, 1982, undated

Box/Folder 1 : 9

Ink drawings, 1977, 1982, undated

Box 4

Six black chalk drawings, undated


Speeches and Writings, 1968-1992, undated


Poetry, 1968-1978

Box/Folder 1 : 10

Holographs, 1967, undated

Arrangement Statement

Drafts and undated poems arranged alphabetically, followed by the 1967 poem.

Drafts, undated


"Articulation of Siberia," undated

Language of Material: English

"Thank You for You Appear ...," undated

Language of Material: English

"Po vecheram, ne pokladaia ruk...," undated


"What Use Are Days?...," undated

Language of Material: English

"Kak nynche vam zhivetsia...," unpublished, 1967

Box/Folder 1 : 11

Original typescripts, 1965-1995

Arrangement Statement

Arranged chronologically.

"Ne zabudem zhe Tiutcheva," unpublished, undated


"A Postcard: Elegy," undated

Language of Material: English

"Akh, byt' bede...," unpublished, 1965


"Chto-to zdes' nespravedlivo...," unpublished, 1965


"Muzhchina, zasypaiushchii odin...," 1965


"Feliks," 1965


"Lili Marlen," 1965


"Elegiia: Robertu Louellu," 1977

Scope and Contents note

Includes translation of the poem by V. Strochkov, 1983.

"Rimskie elegii," 1981


"Novaia zhizn'," 1988


"Otkrytka iz goroda L.," 1988

Scope and Contents note

One of the first versions of the poem later entitled "Otkrytka iz Lissabona." Includes holograph corrections and changes.

"V kafe," two versions, 1988


"Posviashchaetsia Piranezi," 1993-1995

Box/Folder 1 : 12

Computer printouts, 1989-1992

Arrangement Statement

Arranged chronologically by date according to Brodsky's own chronology. If a different date is found on the same published work, it is shown in parentheses.

"Ispanskaia tantsovshchitsa," 1989 (1993)


1989 (1988)


"Ritrato di donna," 1990 (1992)


"Snaruzhi temneet, vernei - sineeet, tochnei - cherneet...," 1990 (1993)


"Tomasu Transtremeru," 1990 (1992)


"Presepio," 1991




"Podrazhanie Goratsiiu" (incomplete), 1992 (1993)


"Pamiati N.N.," 1992

Scope and Contents note

Dated according to Valentina Polukhina's book Iosif Brodskiî: Zhizn', trudy, epokha. Sankt-Peterburg : Zhurnal Zvezda, 2008.

"Podruga, durniia litsom, poselilas' v derevne...," 1992


"Pristan' Fagerdala," 1992


"Semenov," 1992


"Vid s kholma," 1992 February

Box/Folder 2 : 1-2

Photocopies, 1973-1993

Arrangement Statement

Arranged chronologically, according to Brodsky's chronology. When undated by him, dates were established by Valentina Polukhina’s book Iosif Brodskiî: Zhizn', trudy, epokha. Sankt-Peterburg : Zhurnal Zvezda, 2008.

"Semnadtsatiletie," 1973


"Osennii krik iastreba," 1975 (1978)


"Piataia godovshchina," 1977


"San Pietro," 1977


"To ne Muza vody nabiraet v rot...," 1980


"Ekloga V-ia: letniaia," 1980-1981


"Piazza Mattei," 1981


"Teper', znaia mnogoe...," 1984


"V gorakh," 1985/1988

Scope and Contents note

Includes several versions of the poem.

"Predstavlenie," 1986 (1988)


"Reki," 1986


"Kentavry," 1987


"Rozhdestvenskaia zvezda," 1987


"V kafe," 1988


"Begstvo v Egipet," 1988 December 25


"Dozhd' v avguste," 1988


"Novaia zhizn'," 1988


"Otkrytka iz Lissabona," 1988


"Posviashchaetsia Dzhiralamo Marchello," 1988 (1991)


"Avstraliia (Pamiati ottsa: Avstraliia)," 1989


"Dorogaia, ia vyshel segodnia iz domu...," 1989


"Elegiia (Postoianstvo sut' evolitsiia printsipa...)," 1989


"Fin-de siècle," 1989


"Lido, Venetsiia," 1989


"Landsver Kanal, Berlin," 1989


"Na stoletie Anny Akhmatovoi," 1989


"Pchely ne uleteli, vsadnik ne uskakal...," 1989


"Primechaniia paporotnika," 1989


"Oblaka," 1989


"Metel' v Massachusetse," 1990


"Portret tragedii," 1991


"Presepio," 1991


"Kolybel'naia," 1992


"Mikhailu Baryshnikovu," 1992


"Ia slyshu ne to, chto ty mne govorish'...," 1993

Box/Folder 2 : 3

Essays and lectures, 1984-1992, undated

Arrangement Statement

Arranged chronologically.

Commencement address at Williams College, 1984


Nobel Prize lecture, 1987

Language of Material: English

"Collector's Item," first draft (photocopy), 1992

Language of Material: English

Untitled (photocopy with holograph corrections), undated

Box/Folder 2 : 4

Plays, 1982, 1990


Mramor, 1982


Demokratiia, 1990

Box/Folder 2 : 5

Translations, 1960s, 1988


"Storm" by John Donne, 1988


Cavafy, 1960s, 1988


Darii, 1960s


Poems translated by Gennadii Shmakov and edited by Brodsky, 1988

Box 3

Photographs, 1972, 1991

Scope and Contents note

Includes 24 prints depicting mostly Brodsky at the 1991 Mandelstam conference; four portraits, 1972-1991; and two prints depicting Brodsky on June 4, 1972, the day he left the Soviet Union.
Box/Folder 2 : 6, Map case

Memorabilia, 1972-1991, undated

Scope and Contents note

Includes Joseph Brodsky's astrological chart; a poster for the play Marmur by Joseph Brodsky at the Teatr Śląski, Katowic, Poland; tickets to a lecture and presentation by Brodsky in London; and a book V Anglii (limited edition of 60 copies, 1977) dedicated to Diana and Alan Myers, copy #44, with inscription.
Box/Folder 2 : 7

Printed Matter, 1988-1996

Scope and Contents note

Includes photocopies of publications by and about Joseph Brodsky.
Box/Folder 2 : 8-9

Diana Myers Correspondence, 1976-2013

Arrangement Statement

Arranged alphabetically by name of correspondent.

Two unidentified letters, 1976, 2004

Scope and Contents note

The 1976 letter is addressed to Diana and Alan Myers.

Braginskaia, Nina, 1991


Brodsky, Maria, 1998-2004

Scope and Contents note

Includes greeting cards from Maria Brodsky, widow of Josef Brodsky, with photographs of their daughter Anna; a fundraising letter from the Joseph Brodsky Memorial Fellowship Fund; and a greeting card from Diana Myers to Maria Brodsky.

Bukovsky, Olga, 1985-2012


Bukovsky, Nina, 1991


Bukovsky, Vladimir (letter to him), 2005


Gosudarstvennyj literaturno-memorial'nyi muzei Anny Akhmatovoi v Fontannom dome, 2009


Gandlevskiî, Sergeî, 1995, 1997


Gasparov, Boris, 1991


Gifford, Henry, 1998


Golyshev, Viktor (Mika), 1997


Katilius, Ramünas, circa 1977, 1985, 1997


Kjelberg, Ann, 1996-2000

Scope and Contents note

Includes one letter from Diana Myers to Ann Kjelberg (undated) and a letter to Ann Kjelberg from Brodsky's friends regarding Valentina Polukhina's book Iosif Brodskiî: Zhizn', trudy, epokha. Sankt-Peterburg: Zhurnal Zvezda, 1988.

Liubin, V. P., 1995


McCarthy, Liam, 1977-1979, 2013


Memorial, Dobrovol'noe istoriko-prosvetitel'skoe obshcheestvo, 1991


Petrushanskaia, Elena, 1996


State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, 2001


Sumerkin, Aleksandr, 1977

Box/Folder 2 : 10

Writings by Others, 1989-1991, undated

Scope and Contents note

Includes writings and translations by unidentified authors and by Sergeî Martirosov and Elena Ushakova.