Norman Holmes Pearson Papers

April 9, 2015

By Nancy Kuhl

The Norman Holmes Pearson Papers (YCAL MSS 899) have recently been reorganized and fully described and are open for research at the Beinecke Library; a detailed description of the collection can be found online here: Guide to the Norman Holmes Pearson Papers. A new guide has also recently been created for Pearson’s unique collection of paintings and drawings by poets and writers, which Pearson referred to as a collection of Art for the Wrong Reason. An article about Pearson’s Art for the Wrong Reason Collection and the many poet-painters represented was published in 2004 in Yale’s New Journal “Art for the Wrong Reason: Paintings by Poets,” by Emily Kopley.

Norman Holmes Pearson (1909-1975) was a professor of English and American Studies at Yale University and officer in the Office of Strategic Services during the Second World War. Pearson collaborated with curator Donald Gallup to develop the Yale Collection of American Literature, playing an instrumental role in the acquisition of the papers of H.D. and Bryher. The Norman Holmes Pearson papers consist of correspondence, writings, printed material, photographs, and audiovisual material that document a broad range of Pearson’s professional and personal activities, including his research on Nathaniel Hawthorne and Ezra Pound, his management of the literary estates of H.D. and Bryher, and his activity as a professor of English and American Studies at Yale University.

Pearson (Yale BA 1932, Ph. D. 1941), was a  friend and confident of many writers, a number of literary archives in the Yale Collection of American Literature and General Modern Collection include significant correspondence from Pearson. In 2011, the Beinecke Library undertook the project of scanning Pearson’s letters in Beinecke collections; the project began with the Pearson correspondence in the papers of H.D. and Bryher. An image guide is online here: Correspondence from Norman Holmes Pearson to H. D., Bryher, and other writers. A portrait of Pearson by Deane Keller is alos in t he collection: