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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Fr 372.2

Marguerite Yourcenar additional papers


Additional papers of Marguerite Yourcenar (1903-1987), the French author, as well as papers of her companion, Grace Frick.


  • 1842-1996

Language of Materials

Materials in French and English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions to physical access to most of this material. Item (337) L'Oeuvre au noir is quite fragile and requires approval from curator for access. See details at item description below.


52 linear feet (144 boxes and 53 volumes)

The bulk of these papers, often referred to as the Yourcenar Bequest Papers, were received in the repository between 1987-1996 after Madame Yourcenar's death on December 17, 1987. The papers also reflect the life and work of MY's companion, Grace Frick.

Yourcenar's compositions include: autograph manuscripts, clippings, commonplace books, diaries, galley proofs, lists of corrections for various editions, miscellany, notebooks of sources, notes, page proofs, photographs, printed materials, sketches, translations, travel journals, and video tapes. Material is heavily annotated by Yourcenar and Frick.

Biographical material is arranged by topic (as determined by Yourcenar and Frick) and includes clippings, correspondence, documents, Grace Frick estate papers, financial papers, biographical miscellany, and resumes.

Photographs and negatives include both people and places and many were used in her published work. There are photographs of art works that relate to Yourcenar's family history.

Compositions of others are arranged by author; most material is about Yourcenar and some contains her annotations. Of particular note are: Grace Frick's appointment books (1944-1978) which are daily accounts of activities of Frick and Yourcenar; Histoire sainte ... by Gabrielle de Cleenewerck de Crayencour, a notebook from ca. 1860 that was later used by Yourcenar; and Poèmes copiés par Michel by Michel de Cleenewerck de Crayencour, her father's notebook later used by Yourcenar; and materials relating to the film, Le coup de grâce by Volker Schlöndorff (including photographs).

Correspondence of MY is with friends, family and colleagues, including Grace Frick; Special correspondence file groupings were created by MY and include sections on Gallimard (Firm), Illustrations, and Litigation (especially for law suits about Les chartités d'Alcippe, Electre, Mémoires d'Hadrien, and Patrick de Rosbo's Entretiens radiophoniques avec MY). All letters are heavily annotated by Yourcenar and Frick.

The incoming correspondence is extensive; there is a smaller quantity of her outgoing letters. Some of the major correspondents are: Natalie Clifford Barney, Yvon Bernier, Louise de Borchgrave, Bowdoin College, Jeanne Carayon, Georges de Crayencour, Hortense Flexner, Wilhelm Gans, Donald Harris, Harvard University, Jean Lambert, Charles Orengo, Anne Quellennec, Patrik de Rosbo, Smith College, Stock (Firm), Egon de Vietinghoff, Jerry Wilson, Gian Franco Zaffrani.


Arranged into the following series:

  1. I. Compositions by MY
  2. II. Biographical material
  3. A. By subject
  4. B. Printed materials, 1937-1993
  5. III. Photographs and negatives
  6. A. Photographs of people
  7. B. Negatives
  8. B1. People
  9. B2. Places
  10. IV. Compositions by others
  11. V. Correspondence
  12. A. Letters to MY
  13. B. Letters from MY
  14. C. Other correspondence
  15. D. Special correspondence
  16. D1. Gallimard (Firm) correspondence
  17. D2. Illustration correspondence
  18. D3. Litigation correspondence

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

82M-176. Items (43a) and (263a) Gift of Marguerite Yourcenar, recatalogued from *FC9 Y8850 Zzx; received: 1982 August.

90M-57 and 96M-8. Gift of Petite Plaisance Trust, P.O. Box 403, Northeast Harbor, Maine 04662; received: 1987-1996.

92M-19. Gift of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, New York; received: 1993 March 16.

94M-86. Gift of Yannick Guillou Editions Gallimard, Paris, France; received: 1995 April 21.

2011M-28. Items (937a) and (4143a) gift of T. D. Allman; received: 2011 August 18.

Related Materials

The earlier accumulation of Marguerite Yourcenar's Papers is also housed at Houghton and has a separate finding aid, cataloged under bMS Fr 372. For additional manuscripts cataloged outside these two major groupings, and for a complete listing of printed books by Marguerite Yourcenar held by the Houghton Library, consult Harvard's on-line catalog, HOLLIS. Nineteen boxes of ephemeral materials are cataloged by the Houghton Printed Books Department as: Marguerite Yourcenar ephemeral material, under shelf numbers *FC9.Y8850.Zzx - *FC9.Y8850.Zzx20.

Additional Yourcenar materials are housed elsewhere. Her own library of books is still held at her home, Petite Plaisance (Northeast Harbor, Maine), as are most of her postcards, scrapbooks and photographs. Manuscripts of L'Oeuvre au noir and Théâtre I are at the Bowdoin College Library, Special Collections. See also the archives of the firm Gallimard in Paris.

Correspondence with Marguerite Yourcenar can also be found at the Woodlawn Museum in Ellsworth, Maine in the Hancock Country Trustees of Public Reservations (HCTPR) Archives, in Series 4, Box 3, sub-series B on the Black House Committee issues dating from 1929-1969.

Processing Information

Processed by: Bonnie B. Salt

This group of Marguerite Yourcenar papers received heavy use in the Houghton Reading Room prior to being fully cataloged, and consequently the final arrangement does not necessarily reflect the original order. Much of the collection was microfilmed by various individual researchers prior to final arrangement and cataloging, so variant versions of microfilm of a single item number might exist.

Yourcenar, Marguerite. Marguerite Yourcenar additional papers, 1842-1996 (MS Fr 372.2): Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, archives, and more. Houghton Library's collections represent the scope of human experience from ancient Egypt to twenty-first century Cambridge. With strengths primarily in North American and European history, literature, and culture, collections range in media from printed books and handwritten manuscripts to maps, drawings and paintings, prints, posters, photographs, film and audio recordings, and digital media, as well as costumes, theater props, and a wide range of other objects. Houghton Library has historically focused on collecting the written record of European and Eurocentric North American culture, yet it holds a large and diverse number of primary sources valuable for research on the languages, culture and history of indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Houghton Library’s Reading Room is free and open to all who wish to use the library’s collections.

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