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Jarvis Thurston Papers

Identifier: MS-MS-ms114

The Jarvis Thurston Papers consist primarily of correspondence relating to Washington University's Department of English and its visiting writers program. The most significant part of the Thurston collection is the correspondence from James T. Farrell to Thurston and Van Duyn. These letters are of a more personal nature and often discuss literary matters such as Van Duyn's work. A small group of manuscripts, notably two drafts of a Thurston short story, "The Cross," is also included.


  • 1950-1980


Conditions Governing Access

Some Restrictions. Please contact Curator for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

Some Restrictions. Please contact Curator for more information.

Users of the collection must read and agree to abide by the rules and procedures set forth in the Materials Use Policies.

Providing access to materials does not constitute permission to publish or otherwise authorize use. All publication not covered by fair use or other exceptions is restricted to those who have permission of the copyright holder, which may or may not be Washington University.

If you wish to publish or license Special Collections materials, please contact Special Collections to inquire about copyright status at (314) 935-5495 or (Publish means quotation in whole or in part in seminar or term papers, theses or dissertations, journal articles, monographs, books, digital forms, photographs, images, dramatic presentations, transcriptions, or any other form prepared for a limited or general public.)


1.00 boxes

Biographical Information

Jarvis Thurston (1914-2008), a native of Utah, was an editor, author, and educator who studied at the University of Utah and the University of California at Berkeley. He received a Ph.D. in literature from the University of Iowa in 1946 and was a professor of literature since that time. He taught at the University of Louisville for four years and in 1950 joined the faculty of Washington University. Thurston served as English Department chairman from 1967-1969 and retired in 1982. Thurston was instrumental in establishing Washington University's creative writing program and attracting a constellation of distinguished writers to the University including Stanley Elkin, Wayne Fields, Donald Finkel, William Gass, John Morris, Howard Nemerov, and Constance Urdang.

Thurston's articles and short stories have appeared in literary magazine and anthologies; however, he is best known as an editor. The co-author of Short Fiction Criticism, 1800-1958 (1960), Thurston edited two books, Reading Modern Short Stories (1955) and Short Stories from the Literary Magazines (1972). While at the University of Louisville, he and his wife, Mona Van Duyn, founded the quarterly Perspective and served as the magazine's principal editors for its entire run from 1947 to 1975. Thurston was regarded as a key figure in discovering some of the nation's best literary talent. Perspective published the early writing of several of his Washington University colleagues, along with works by James Gardner, Anthony Hecht, William S. Merwin and Douglas Woolf. He died in 2008 of heart disease.

Source of Acquisition

Accession number 1087. Gift of Jarvis Thurston, September 12, 1969

Related Materials

See also MS144 Mona Van Duyn and Jarvis Thurston Papers and MS093 Perspective Archive

Jarvis Thurston Papers
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Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 2021 February 19: Resource record updated in ArchiveSpace by Sarah Schnuriger.
  • 2023 June: Additional data cleanup by Nico Hartfelder

Collecting Area Details

Part of the Manuscripts Collecting Area

Joel Minor
Olin Library, 1 Brookings Drive
MSC 1061-141-B
St. Louis MO 63130 US
(314) 935-5495