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William Carlos Williams Collection

 Collection — Box: VMF 17, Folder: 6
Identifier: MS-VMF-vmf193

Consists of correspondence from Williams to John Israel Smith and Ellen Stevenson and the text of Williams' lecture at the 1955 Oreon E. Scott Symposium on "The Writer and His Public"


  • 1952-1955


Conditions Governing Access


Conditions Governing Use

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.)


4.00 items

1 folders

Biographical Information

William Carlos Williams (September 17, 1883 – March 4, 1963) was an American poet closely associated with modernism and Imagism. Born in Rutherford, New Jersey, he received his primary and secondary education in Rutherford until 1897, when he was sent for two years to a school near Geneva and to the Lycée Condorcet in Paris. He attended the Horace Mann School upon his return to New York City and after having passed a special examination, he was admitted in 1902 to the medical school of the University of Pennsylvania, from which he graduated in 1906.

Although his primary occupation was as a family doctor, Williams had a successful literary career as a poet. In addition to poetry (his main literary focus), he occasionally wrote short stories, plays, novels, essays, and translations. Early in his career, he briefly became involved in the Imagist movement through his friendships with Ezra Pound and H.D., but soon he began to develop opinions that differed from those of his poet/friends.

In 1915, Williams also began to associate with a group of New York artists and writers known as "The Others." Founded by the poet Alfred Kreymborg and the artist Man Ray, this group included Walter Conrad Arensberg, Wallace Stevens, Mina Loy, Marianne Moore and Marcel Duchamp.  In 1920, Williams was sharply criticized by many of his peers (like H.D., Pound, and Wallace Stevens) when he published one of his most experimental books, Kora in Hell: Improvisations.

A few years later, Williams published one of his seminal books of poetry, Spring and All (1923), which contained classic Williams poems like "By the road to the contagious hospital," "The Red Wheelbarrow," and "To Elsie." In his modernist epic collage of place, Paterson (published between 1946 and 1958), an account of the history, people, and essence of Paterson, New Jersey, he tried to write his own Modernist epic poem, focusing on "the local" on a wider scale than he had previously attempted.

Williams is strongly associated with the American Modernist movement in literature and saw his poetic project as a distinctly American one; he sought to renew language through the fresh, raw idiom that grew out of America's cultural and social heterogeneity, at the same time freeing it from what he saw as the worn-out language of British and European culture.

Williams won the 1950 National Book Award for Poetry, recognizing both the third volume of Paterson and Selected Poems. In May 1963, he was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Pictures from Brueghel and Other Poems (1962) and the Gold Medal for Poetry of the National Institute of Arts and Letters.

Method of Acquisition

Accession number 1007, November 1968. Purchase from Henry Wenning. Originally laid in The Build-up: A Novel by William Carlos Williams. PS3545 I544 B8 1952a

Accession number 1243, December 17, 1970. Purchase from Hamill and Barker Book Sellers (Typed letter signed to Mrs. Stevenson)

Accession number 1491, June 6, 1979. Transfer from University Archives. (Oreon E. Scott Symposium)

Processing Information

Processed September 1969, January 1971 by Holly Hall, and June 1979

William Carlos Williams Collection
Description rules
Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 2021 March 19: Resource record updated in ArchiveSpace by Sarah Schnuriger.

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