Papers document Richards's work as a scholar and teacher of English literature, her a poet, potter, and translator, and finally
her lectures, workshops, and writings in art education. The papers emphasize the 1940s and 1950s, the period during which
Richards taught at Black Mountain College.
Mary Caroline ("M.C.") Richards, self-described "teacher, writer, lecturer, potter, poet," was born in 1916, and received
her Ph.D. in English from the University of California at Berkeley in 1942. She taught English both at Berkeley and at the
University of Chicago before joining the faculty of Black Mountain College in Asheville, North Carolina, a school that had
a formative role in postwar American art in 1945. She and her husband Bill Levi became prominent members of the Black Mountain
community; she in writing and literature, he in philosophy and as rector from 1947 to 1948. In 1948 Richards and her students
started the Black Mountain Press which they used for literary publications and to print Richards's first volume of poetry.
That same year she met the composer John Cage, who had just joined the summer faculty and who that summer produced Erik Satie's
play Le Piége de Méduse, performed by Buckminster Fuller and Merce Cunningham, directed by Arthur Penn, and translated by M.C. Richards. Richards
served as chair of the faculty from 1949 to 1951, participating actively in the many conflicts between various factions in
administration and faculty. She was instrumental in bringing the poet Charles Olson to the faculty in 1951. He served as rector
from 1953 until the college closed in 1956.
120 Linear Feet
(228 boxes, 2 flatfiles)
Contact Library Reproductions and Permissions.
Open for use by qualified researchers.