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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 1905

Robert Lowell papers


Compositions, letters, and other papers of the American writer Robert Lowell.


  • Creation: 1861-1977
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1935-1970

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.

Restricted: fragile; consult curatorial staff, items: 2202-2204, 2267, 2293

Letters soley by or to Elizabeth Hardwick were available for research only with her permission during her lifetime; this restricted ended in December 2007.

Conditions Governing Use

Images linked to this finding aid are intended for public access and educational use. This material is owned and/or held by the Houghton Library, and is provided solely for the purpose of teaching or individual research. Any other use, including commercial reuse, mounting on other systems, or other forms of redistribution requires the permission of the curator.


8.75 linear feet (34 boxes)

Approximately two-thirds of the collection is compositions by Lowell. These consist of manuscripts of his poems, both published and unpublished, in various forms from heavily revised drafts to galley proofs, as well as autobiographical and miscellaneous prose. The correspondence is with other writers and family members and concerns his writing and his personal life. Major correspondents include his second wife Elizabeth Hardwick, Elizabeth Bishop, Peter Taylor, Allen Tate, and Randall Jarrell. Also includes third party correspondence, manuscripts by others, legal papers and documents, photographs, printed material, and a title index to Lowell's manuscripts in the collection.

Biographical / Historical

Lowell was an American poet.


Organized into the following series:

  1. I. Letters to Robert Lowell
  2. II. Letters from Robert Lowell
  3. III. Letters to Elizabeth Hardwick
  4. IV. Other letters
  5. V. Compositions by Robert Lowell
  6. A. Early poems: 1935-1938
  7. B. Land of unlikeness
  8. C. Lord Weary's castle
  9. D. Uncollected poems: 1938-1946
  10. E. The mills of the Kavanaughs
  11. F. Uncollected poems: 1946-1951
  12. G. Life studies
  13. H. Autobiographical prose
  14. I. Uncollected poems: 1951-1959
  15. J. Imitations
  16. K. For the union dead
  17. L. The Old Glory
  18. M. Prometheus bound
  19. N. The Agamemnon, Orestes and Phaedra
  20. O. Near the ocean
  21. P. Notebook: worksheets
  22. Q. Notebook: lists of revisions
  23. R. Notebook: photocopies and galley proofs
  24. S. Notebook: unpublished drafts
  25. T. Uncollected poems: 1959-1970
  26. U. Uncollected translations
  27. V. Miscellaneous prose
  28. VI. Documents, legal papers, photographs, etc.
  29. VII. Other papers
  30. Additions to collection

Please note that item numbers 2424 and 2808 were inadvertently omitted from this finding aid.

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

*73M-90. Purchased from Robert Lowell; received: 1973.

Letters to Frank Bidart were purchased from Bidart, 1977.

Evaluations of student compositions were a gift of William Alfred, 1978.

2020M-2. Purchased with funds from the Amy Lowell Trust, 2019. This material was previously on deposit at the Houghton Library, 1988-2018, with the accession number *88M-73.

Processing Information

This finding aid was reviewed in 2024 to address outdated and harmful descriptive language. Given the context and placement of the term in a formal title, it has been left as is. A contextual note situating the usage of the term has been added. If you have questions or comments about these revisions, please contact Houghton Library. For more information on reparative archival description at Harvard, see Harvard Library’s Statement on Harmful Language in Archival Description.

Lowell, Robert, 1917-1977. Robert Lowell papers, 1861-1977 (MS Am 1905): Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

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