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William F. Claire Papers 1

Identifier: GTM-GAMMS409

Scope and Contents

The William F. Claire Papers consist of 12 autograph signed letters and 3 typed signed letters to and from William Claire. Of them, a majority discuss his writing on and analysis of the work of poet and writer Katherine Garrison Chapin Biddle, entitled "The Unpredictable Bloom." The collection contains correspondence from the Academy of American Poets, as well as the "Southern Review", the quarterly literary magazine fo the Louisiana State University, in reference to Claire's publication attempts. In the course of writing and publishing, Claire also developed a strong relationship with Katherine Biddle herself. The collection contains 13 correspondences from Biddle to Claire, discussing family, weather, Claire's writings on Biddle and Sylvia Plath, as well as his attempts at and eventual founding of a literary magazine, "Voyages." Other topics of interest within the collection are Biddle's discussions of her own writings, including "Portraits", "Outside of the World", and "The Other Journey". Biddle asks for Claire's honest opinions and editorial advice while commending him on his own literary works such as "The Unpredictable Bloom." Copies and a typed manuscript of this work are included in the collection. Interestingly, the last document in the collection is a letter from Donald E. Stanford of the "Southern Review", informing Claire that they will not be able to print his piece on Katherine Biddle. This provides a background for the relative success of the piece as well as the friendship that was born out of it. The collection is organized by individual and date.

A 2023 addendum of material includes additional items related to Mark Van Doren, Katherine Garrison Chapin Biddle, and others.


  • 1959 - 2006
  • Majority of material found within 1966-1968

Conditions Governing Access

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers are solely responsible for determining the copyright status of the materials being used, establishing who the copyright owner is, locating the copyright owner, and obtaining permission for intended use.

Biographical Note

William F. Claire was born in Northampton, Massachusetts. Claire graduated from Deerfield Academy in 1954 and received his bachelor's degree in 1958 from Columbia University. He studied at Georgetown University before joining the military. Claire also worked for the Pentagon, as well as in various public and private jobs in Washington DC early in his career.A notable writer and poet in his own right, Claire founded the literary magazine "Voyages" in 1967. Since its inception, "Voyages" has won a number of awards including a National Endowment for the Arts award. Claire's work has been published in "The American Scholar", "Antioch Review", "New York Times", "Smithsonian Magazine", "The Poetry Pilot" of the Academy of American Poets, as well as numerous other major publications. His poems have also been recorded for the Library of Congress archives. Honors include winning a Rockefeller Foundation Grant for residency in Belagio, Italy and he is a Yaddo and MacDowell scholar. Claire currently lives in both Lewes, Delaware and Naples, Florida. Biographical information from The Quotations page on William Claire.

****** Katherine Garrison Chapin Biddle was born in Waterford, Connecticut on September 4, 1890 to parents Lindley Hoffman Chapin and Cornelia Garrison Van Auken. Biddle had 3 siblings; Lindley Hoffman, Paul Chapin, and sculptor Cornelia Chapin, and half sister Marguerite Caetani, who married Roffredo Prince Di Bassiano, the Duke of Semoneta. She studied in private schools and with well known individuals such as Kurt Schindler, Max Eastman, and Rachel Crothers. She then married Francis Biddle in 1918, who was the U.S. attorney general from 1942-1945, and later had two sons, Edmund Randolph and Garrison Chapin (1923-30). A great fan of poetry, Katherine Biddle began her career writing poetry, essays, reviews, etc. for a number of journals and magazines. Notable works include "Outside of the World" (1930), "Bright Mariner" (1933), "Lament for the Stolen" (1938), "The Other Journey" (1959), "The Chinese Deer" (1975), and plays such as "The Tapestry for the Duchess" (1925) and "Sojourner Truth" (1948). "And They Lynched Him from a Tree" and "Plain Chant for America", two of her poems advocating civil rights, were set to music and performed in 1940 and 1941 after the performance of "Lament for the Stolen" in 1938. Biddle received many honors in her career, including appointment as a fellow in American letters of the Library of Congress in 1944 by Archibald MacLeish, a judge for the Bollingen Prize in Poetry of Yale University and a judge for the National Book Award in Poetry and the Shelley Memorial award. Katherine Biddle was also a member of the Poetry Society of America, Poetry Society of Virginia, Sulgrave Club, Cosmopolitan Clubs of New York and Philadelphia, and the Acorn Club. Katherine Biddle died in Devon, Pennsylvania on December 30, 1977. Biographical data for Katherine Chapin Biddle comes from the Katherine Biddle papers from Part 1 of the Biddle Family papers also housed at Georgetown University.

****** Born February 7, 1913, Donald Elwin Stanford grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts before studying English at Stanford and Harvard. He married Maryana Petersob in 1953. In his career as a writer, Stanford published books of poems such as "New England Earth", "The Traveler", as well as critiques of poetry such as "Revolution and Convention in Modern Poetry" and "In the Classic Mode: The Achievement of Robert Bridges. After 1953, Donald Stanford became a Professor of English at Louisiana State University and became the editor of "The Southern Review", the university's literary magazine, in 1963. He is also notable for having founded the "Winters Circle", a literary group focusing on the work of Yvor Winters. Stanford retired in 1983 but continued publishing until 1984. Biographical data for Donald E. Stanford the "Donald E. Stanford Papers" at Stanford University and "Order in Variety: Essays and Poems in Honor of Donald E. Stanford."

****** Marie Leontine Graves Bullock, born Marie Leontine Graves in 1911, founded the Academy of American Poets in 1934 with her husband Hugh Bullock. She was schooled in France and corresponded with notable individuals such as Bernard Shaw and Walter de La Mare over her love and support of poetry. She also edited "The Poetry Pilot", the journal of the Academy of American Poets. Marie Bullock died in 1986, leaving behind two daughters, Fleur Weymouth and Fair Alice McCormick. Biographical data for Marie Bullock from NY Times Obituary and The Poetry Library of Marie Bullock.


0.25 Cubic Feet (1 slim box and 3 oversized folders)

Language of Materials


Metadata Rights Declarations

Acquisition Information

Gift of William F. Claire, October 2007, 2012, 2015, and circa 2018. The collection consists of the following accessions: GTM-GAMMS409, GTM-121228, GTM-151210, and GTM-20230923.

Processing Information

The collection has been rehoused in acid-free boxes and folders. Items have been removed from their frames for preservation purposes.

William F. Claire Papers 1
Meredith Manning
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2023: Accession GTM-20230928 added to the collection and finding aid edited for DACS-compliance by John Zarrillo

Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057