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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 1985-1985.1

L. E. Sissman papers


Letters and manuscripts of the American writer L. E. Sissman.


  • Creation: 1944-1981

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.


4 linear feet (15 boxes)

The bulk of the collection is manuscripts by Sissman, mostly poems, but also prose including essays, drafts, notes, fragments of stories and novels, and a few speeches. Includes a typescript with annotations, the galley proofs, and the page proofs of Hello, Darkness: The Collected Poems of L.E. Sissman, a posthumous collection selected and arranged by Peter Davison; as well as printer's copies and proofs of his earlier works. Also contains 5 boxes of correspondence, both personal and professional. Correspondents include Anthony Hecht, Howard Moss, Stanley Moss, Edward A. Muir, and Kurt Vonnegut. Most of the letters, which include correspondence with other poets and publishers, and fan mail, pertain to his poetry, but 68 letters to his parents written between 1944 and 1959 discuss his student days at Harvard and early days in advertising. Third party correspondence concerns his poetry. Also a few miscellaneous manuscripts by others and printed copies of his poems.

Biographical / Historical

Sissman was an American poet, columnist, and advertising copywriter.


Organized into the following series:

  1. I.. Letters to Louis Edward Sissman
  2. II. Letters from Louis Edward Sissman
  3. III. Other letters
  4. IV. Compositions
  5. ___A. Early poems: 1945-1949
  6. ___B. Poems
  7. ___C. Book-length compositions, notebooks, and outlines
  8. ___D. Prose
  9. ___E. Other
  10. V. bMS Am 1985.1: Other manuscripts

Immediate Source of Acquisition

77M-70. Purchased from Anne B. Sissman with John Updike and Martha Ruggles Bernhard Updike, and the Amy Lowell fund; received: 1978.

80M-27. Gift of Peter Davison, The Atlantic Monthly Press; received: 1981.

Processing Information

In 2020-2021, as part of a conscious and inclusive re-description effort, entries were updated to include a woman’s first name when identified.

Martha Ruggles Bernhard Updike formerly listed as Mrs. John Updike.

Link to catalog
Sissman, L. E., 1928-1976. L. E. Sissman papers, 1944-1981: 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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