Information about our holdings

Mary Barnard Papers

Mary Barnard

Poet Mary Barnard was born in 1909 in Vancouver, Washington. In 1932, she graduated from Reed College in nearby Portland, Oregon, where she was introduced to the work of Ezra Pound. She began to correspond with the poet; the majority of their letters are now at the Beinecke Library.

At Pound’s suggestion, Barnard visited New York, where she met Marianne Moore and William Carlos Williams. Barnard remained in New York state for many years, first as a resident at Yaddo, an artist’s colony, and later as a research assistant to Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Carl Van Doren. In 1940, she became curator for the Poetry Collection of the Lockwood Memorial Library in Buffalo, NY.

With Pound’s encouragement, Barnard began translating Sappho’s poetry from Greek. Her translation, published in 1958, has never been out of print. Barnard’s own poems won her Poetry magazine’s Levinson Award when she was only twenty-six years old. Her shorter fiction was published in Harper’s Bazaar, The Yale Review, and The Kenyon Review. She later composed a book-length essay in verse entitled Time and the White Tigress and researched and published her own genealogy and various essays on mythology.

The Beinecke’s collection of Mary Barnard’s work is a testament to an active creative and intellectual mind. The collection includes manuscripts and first editions of most of Barnard’s published work, including Sappho: a New Translation by Mary Barnard, Time and the White Tigress, Assault on Mount Helicon, Three Fables, Mythmakers, God in the Flowerpot, High Road and Other Poems, Art of Translation, Few Poems, Collected Poems, and others. The collection also includes audio and video cassettes, her travel diaries from time spent in Europe, letters from Ezra and Dorothy Pound, Marianne Moore, and William Carlos Williams, and drafts of a translation of Homer’s Iliad. Some of the most interesting items in the collection are personal material: Barnard’s own diaries, newspaper clippings, yearbooks, and notebooks.

To learn more about the Beinecke’s Mary Barnard collection, search for “Mary Barnard” in the library’s Orbis Database.

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