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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 538

Papers of Jean Valentine, 1952-2004 (inclusive), 1970-2004 (bulk)


Poetry, correspondence, and prose of Jean Valentine.


  • 1952-2004
  • Majority of material found within 1970-2004


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research. Individual items throughout the collection are closed as noted to protect personal privacy. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Permission to cite or quote passages of any length from the collection, whether drafts of poems, correspondence, or any other text by the donor, must be sought in writing from her during her lifetime. Upon her death, permission to quote from the above mentioned must be sought in writing from her literary executor, Julie Carr.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures. Papers may not, however, be reproduced on the internet until after the donor's death.


2.5 linear feet ((6 file boxes) plus 1 folio+ folder, 3 photograph folders, 1 videotape, 4 audiotapes)

This collection documents the personal and professional life of poet Jean Valentine. The bulk consists of correspondence, including extensive correspondence with other well-known poets. The processor retained the original arrangement of the correspondence. The remainder includes her writings (drafts and proofs of poems, examples of prose, etc.); reviews of her published books; photographs; one videotape; and four audiotapes.

Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1964-2003 (#1.1-1.5), includes Valentine's curricula vitae, articles about her, transcripts of interviews, and introductions by others given at poetry readings. For brief diary excerpts of daily life and snippets of poems from 1989-1990, see #2.19.

Series II, CORRESPONDENCE, 1965-2004 (#1.6-3.9), is arranged in two subseries: alphabetical and general.

Subseries A, Alphabetical, 1969-2004 (#1.6-2.6), consists of substantive correspondence with friends and poets. Poets would send a poem back and forth for criticism and validation, providing insight into the evolution of the work. This subseries also highlights Valentine's life in Ireland with her second husband, Barrie Cooke, as well as her trips to artists' communities, Yaddo (Saratoga Springs, New York), and Macdowell Colony (Peterborough, New Hampshire).

Subseries B, General, 1965-2004 (#2.7-3.9), consists of correspondence with other friends and other poets, discussing their health, personal lives, and professional activities. The subseries includes spouses and friends of correspondents from Subseries A; many of the same people and subjects are discussed. Arranged chronologically.

Series III, WRITINGS, 1952-2002 (#3.10-6.13) is arranged in two subseries: poetry and prose.

Subseries A, Poetry, 1955-2002 (#3.10-6.1), contains drafts, proofs, reviews, correspondence concerning Dream Barker and Other Poems; Pilgrims; Ordinary Things; The Messenger; Home.Deep.Blue; The River at Wolf; Growing Darkness, Growing Light; The Cradle of the Real Life; and Door in the Mountain. Also included is the poem Valentine published while attending Radcliffe College. See also F+D.1 for book jackets of some of her volumes.

Subseries B, Prose, 1952-2001 (#6.2-6.13), consists of articles written by Valentine about Eleanor Ross Taylor, Sylvia Plath, Seamus Heaney, Jane Cooper, Jane Keynon, Robert Lowell, and Czeslaw Milosz, and various other writings.

Series IV, PHOTOGRAPHS, AUDIOVISUAL, AND OVERSIZED, 1980-2002 (# PD.1-PD.3, Vt-143, T-334.1-334.4, F+D.1) is arranged in four subseries: photographs, videotapes, audiotapes, and oversized material.


Jean Valentine was born in Chicago, Illinois, on April 27, 1934, to John and Jean Purcell Valentine. Later, the family moved to Massachusetts, where Valentine attended Milton Academy Girls' School. In 1952 Valentine entered Radcliffe College, and majored in English. In December 1955, a Harvard University student publication, The Harvard Advocate, published her "Poem," which received a favorable review in The Harvard Crimson (January 10, 1956). Valentine graduated cum laude in June 1956. Valentine married James Chace in 1957 and was later divorced; they had two daughters, Sarah (b.1958) and Rebecca (b.1960). A second marriage in 1991 to artist Barrie Cooke, also ended in divorce. In 1964, a collection of her poems won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award, chosen over 300 other entries; it was published in 1965 as Dream Barker and Other Poems.

Valentine has taught poetry at 92nd Street Young Men's Hebrew Association, Sarah Lawrence College, Hunter College, City University of New York, Pierson College at Yale University, Swarthmore College, Barnard College, Bucknell University, American University, Columbia University, and the University of Pittsburgh. She has also won various awards and fellowships including: the Rockefeller Fellowship, the Bunting Institute Fellowship, the Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, the Shelley Memorial Prize (2000), the National Book Award for Poetry (2004), and the Jean Kennedy Smith New York University Creative Writing Award of Distinction (2005).

Valentine's other published works include: Pilgrims (1969); Ordinary Things (1974); Turn (1977); The Messenger (1979); Home.Deep.Blue (1989); Night Lake (1992); The River at Wolf (1992); Night Porch: Poems (1995); The Under Voice: Selected Poems (1995); Growing Darkness, Growing Light (1997); The Cradle of the Real Life (2000); The Lighthouse Keeper: Essays on the Poetry of Eleanor Ross Taylor (2001); and Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems 1965-2003 (2004).


The collection is arranged in four series:

  1. Series I. Biographical and personal
  2. Series II. Correspondence
  3. Series III. Writings
  4. Series IV. Photographs, Audiovisual, and Oversized

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 2004-M57

The papers of Jean Valentine were given to the Schlesinger Library by Jean Valentine in June 2004.


Donors: Jean Valentine

Accession number: 2004-M57

Processed by: Cat Lea Holbrook

The following item was removed and transferred to the Schlesinger Library's book collection:

  1. Rich, Adrienne. Selected Poems 1950-1995. Knockeven, Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland: Salmon Poetry, 1996.

Processing Information

Processed: November 2006

By: Cat Lea Holbrook

Valentine, Jean. Papers of Jean Valentine, 1952-2004 (inclusive), 1970-2004 (bulk): A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by a gift from the Radcliffe College Class of 1956.

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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