Skip to main content

Author Letters, 1653 - 2009, bulk: 1920 - 1980


Scope and Contents

From the Collection:

This series and its subseries consist of letters, manuscripts, and photographs of authors and writers of note collected by Professor Richard Macksey (1931-2019), who worked in what is now the Alexander Grass Humanities Institute and The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University from 1958 until his formal retirement in 2010. Professor Macksey was a noted bibliophile and in addition to collecting rare titles and editions, he also collected correspondence and manuscripts by noted French and English-speaking authors. He had direct ties and relationships with some of the people in this series; others he purchased or obtained third-hand because of his personal interest in their writings.

Some items in the series were obtained directly by Macksey or fellow professor Elliot Coleman (1906-1980), founder of the Writing Seminars. Both men worked at Johns Hopkins for decades and would invite authors and thinkers to campus to lecture. Sometimes these entreaties were declined, but in other cases they would spawn at least a written correspondence. Many documents in the “Hopkins Festival” sub-series were addressed to Coleman directly and likely given to Macksey by Coleman or his family. Other documents addressed to Macksey or Coleman are from former students who had gone on to become published writers and poets.

A significant portion of the French Letters subseries is Structuralist and Post-Structuralist thinkers. Most documents in this sub-series are in French. Some have translations included with them.

The “Hopkins Festival” sub-series is mainly devoted to individuals writing to show their support for The Hopkins Review, the quarterly journal of the Writing Seminar.

Because of this combination of Macksey’s personal interests and his professional work, the time range of the documents is quite wide. The range goes from 1653 to 2009, with most of the dates clustering around the mid to late 20th century.


  • Creation: 1653 - 2009
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1920 - 1980


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. This collection may be requested through Special Collections


From the Collection: 40 Cubic Feet (approx 40 record cartons--will shrink during processing)

Language of Materials




This series consists of 1,119 documents, including letters, manuscripts, drawings, and photographs by noteworthy English and French authors and artists, as well as authors with personal ties to Professors Richard Macksey or Elliot Coleman.


Upon arrival, the series was spread across several non-archival binders. The items making up the French Letters and Hopkins Festival subseries were set aside, while the others were spread across the remaining binders in a rough alphabetical order. All items were removed from their original plastic photo sheets and rehoused in acid-free folders.

The main series and the French Letters subseries were placed in alphabetical order by last name with one exception: Iris Tree was placed immediately after her cousin Sir Max Beerbohm as that is how they were ordered originally. The Hopkins Festival subseries was arranged in the original order in which it had been placed in its binder.

Oversized items were placed into a flat box.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA