Skip to main content
Please contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections for assistance with accessing these materials.

Mercedes de Acosta Papers

Identifier: GTM-860601

Scope and contents note

Documenting part of the career of playwright, poet, and novelist Mercedes de Acosta (1893-1968), the Mercedes de Acosta Papers consist of letters written to her, a few manuscript plays written by her, her address books, some published works in her possession, and some photographs. Comprising 4 boxes (1.0 linear feet), the material dates from 1920-1975.

Highlights of the collection include three typed manuscript plays written by de Acosta titled "The Dark Light" (undated), "Jehanne D'Arc" (1925), and "The Moon Flower" (1920) as well as a series of her address books documenting her acquaintances. Also of interest are a number of published workes on Hindu philosophy, many of which pertain to the spirtual leader Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950).


  • 1920 - 1975
  • Majority of material found within 1938-1968

Collection-level access restrictions

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.

Biographical Note

Mercedes de Acosta was born 1 March 1893 in New York, New York, the youngest of eight children. She claimed to be of Spanish descent, but it is generally accepted now that her family came from Cuba. Raised as a Roman Catholic she later became a follower of Krishnamurti, and a strict vegetarian. By all accounts, she did not have an easy life. As a child, she suffered from depression, and as an adult was troubled by chronic insomnia and migraines.

De Acosta was a notable playwright, novelist, and poet. She was influential in literary and theatrical circles in the U.S. and in Europe. She was married to painter Abram Poole from 1920-1935, but also had relationships with Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, and Isadora Duncan. De Acosta's works include Wind Chaff (1918), Moods (poems, 1919), Sandro Botticelli (prod. 1923), Until the Day Breaks (1928), and her Lies the Heart (autobiography, 1960). She passed away on 9 May 1968 in New York.

Source: "Mercedes de Acosta." Gay & Lesbian Biography. Ed. Michael J. Tyrkus and Michael Bronski. Detroit: St. James Press, 1997. Biography in Context. Web. 29 Sept. 2014.


1 Linear Feet (4 boxes)

Language of Materials


Related archival materials note

A large collection of Mercedes de Acosta Papers is found at the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia.

Mercedes de Acosta Papers
Scott S. Taylor. Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections, Washington, D.C.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

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