Eleanor Turnbull papers
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for use.
Conditions Governing Use
2.3 Cubic Feet (4 legal size document boxes, 1 flat box (15.5 x 12 x 3 inches), 1 over-sized folder)
Eleanor Turnbull grew up with her brothers and sister (Edwin, Percy, Bayard, and Grace) in the La Paix neighborhood of Towson, Maryland, a suburb of Baltimore, as well as at the Turnbull home on Park Avenue. The Turnbull children were encouraged to express themselves, and they responded by such activities as building a miniature stone church at La Paix and publishing a juvenile magazine, The Acorn (1886-1887). Along with them, Eleanor was educated by private tutors. She studied piano and French, among other subjects, and translated some French poetry into English.
In 1922, Eleanor Turnbull took a short course in Spanish in preparation for a trip to Spain. Fifteen years later she translated some poems of the eminent Spanish poet, Pedro Salinas, in anticipation of his poetry lectures at Johns Hopkins that year. Salinas was impressed with her efforts. She then enrolled in the Summer Language School at Middlebury College, Vermont, and began translating more Spanish poetry. She returned each summer to the college to sharpen her language skills.
Eleanor Turnbull published nine books of Spanish poetry. In addition to her translation work, Eleanor Turnbull gave readings of and lectures on Spanish poetry at the Pratt Library. She also continued the family tradition of boosting the reputation of Sidney Lanier. Eleanor Turnbull died in 1964, survived by her sister, Grace.
Scope and Contents
The papers present a picture of the work of a translator from the late 1930s to the mid-1950s. They include many of Turnbull's notes and typescripts of translations, as well as correspondence with poets, critics, and scholars. Approximately one third of the collection deals with her final work, Ten Centuries of Spanish Poetry (1955). There are notes, reviews, and a complete typescript of the work, as well as letters relating to the book from people such as John Ciardi, poet and critic, and Leo Spitzer of Johns Hopkins. The collection contains typescripts of two other works by Turnbull, The Christ of Velazquez, by Miguel de Unamuno (1951) and Poems by Miguel de Unamuno (1950). There are a number of reviews of The Christ of Velazquez, due to its controversial handling of the subject. There is a printed copy and a few typescripts of the poem, To the Bay Bridge, by Jose Carrera Andrade (1941).
Turnbull's earliest works, Lost Angel and Other Poems (1938) and Truth of Two and Other Poems (1940), were translations of the poetry of Pedro Salinas. These books received the notice of many well-known literary figures. Turnbull received letters relating to these works from Walter de la Mare, Robert P. Tristram Coffin, Lascelles Abercrombie, and Archibald MacLeish. The collection also contains a small amount of material relating to each of Turnbull's other published works: Zero, by Pedro Salinas (1947); Contemporary Spanish Poetry (1947); and Sea of San Juan, by Pedro Salinas (1950). This material consists mainly of promotional literature and reviews.
The collection contains a substantial amount of Turnbull's translations that were not published. Over half of this unpublished material are notes and typescripts of the poetry of Gabriela Mistral. Other unpublished translations include works by Jorge Guillen, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, and Pedro Salinas.
The Turnbull family's interest in Sidney Lanier is documented in this collection. The items relating to Lanier are largely material relating to events honoring him. There is a program of the 1888 memorial to Sidney Lanier inscribed by Mary Day Lanier, typewritten notes for a presentation by Elizabeth Lanier on Sidney given at Turnbull's home in 1931, and programs to the 1940 and 1942 commemorations held at The Johns Hopkins University. Included with Mrs. Lanier's 1931 notes are the answers Sidney Lanier gave in 1874 to certain questions that were to reveal "The Mental Photograph of Sidney Lanier." In preparation for the 1931 Lanier program, Turnbull consulted the Library of Congress Music Division for a list of Lanier poems which had been set to music. A copy of W.R. Whittlesey's reply is in the correspondence.
The personal series includes examples of Eleanor Turnbull's early writings in the form of notes from a parlor game. The series contains the June, 1887 issue of The Acorn, the magazine published by her brother, Edwin. There is biographical information on Miss Turnbull, including the text of a lecture, by Damaso Alonso, entitled, "Eleanor Turnbull and Spanish Poetry." Also included in this series are a photograph of Miss Turnbull (1940), a bibliography of her work, and an album of picture postcards from Spain.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
- Alonso, Dámaso, 1898-1990
- Ciardi, John, 1916-1986
- Coffin, Robert P. Tristram (Robert Peter Tristram), 1892-1955
- De la Mare, Walter, 1873-1956
- García Lorca, Federico, 1898-1936
- Guillén, Jorge, 1893-1984
- Juana Inés de la Cruz, Sister, 1651-1695
- MacLeish, Archibald, 1892-1982
- Mistral, Gabriela, 1889-1957
- Salinas, Pedro, 1892-1951
- Spanish poetry
- Turnbull, Eleanor L. (Eleanor Laurelle)
- Unamuno, Miguel de, 1864-1936
- United States
- Women and literature
- Women poets
- Women poets, American
Part of the Special Collections Repository
The Sheridan Libraries
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA