Biographical / Historical
Albert V. and Helen W. Fowler were poets, freelance writers, and managing editors of the literary periodical, Approach. They also founded Ahab Press of Rosemont, Pennsylvania.
Albert Vann Fowler was born in Syracuse, NY, in 1904; as an infant he suffered a seizure which left him with a lifelong speech impediment and facial spasms. His father was a prominent lawyer and banker, and his grandfather, Irving G. Vann, a member of the NYS Court of Appeals. He earned an A.B. in History from Haverford College in 1927 and pursued graduate level studies in Psychology and Journalism at Columbia University from 1927 to 1928. During the next several years he worked as a freelance journalist in Syracuse and wrote poetry. Albert Fowler married Helen Frances Wose in 1937 after a difficult courtship. Continuing difficulties with each of their prominent Syracuse families forged a bond between them and served as a theme in much of their later work.
Helen Fowler was the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Alfred Wose. born in 1907. She attended the Emma Willard School in Troy and graduated from Vassar in 1928. After earning Master's degrees in English and Education at Syracuse and Columbia Universities respectively, she taught, attended law school, and then worked as a legislative researcher in Albany.
After their marriage, the couple moved to Meadville, Pennsylvania, where they began to collaborate in poetry as well as in life. The first of two trilogies of narrative poetry, subsequently named the Meadville Trilogy (Lion of Judah, Scylla the Beautiful, and Landcastle) was largely written during their residence in the Allegheny region of Pennsylvania. Their only child, Albert Wose Fowler, was born in 1940. Helen suffered a nervous breakdown shortly after his birth and took more than two years to recover.
As a committed pacifist, Albert V. Fowler joined the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and in 1940 became a member of the Society of Friends. The couple moved to suburban Philadelphia in 1946 and spent the years 1946-1947 at Pendle Hill, a Quaker study center. In 1947, Albert, Helen, and other resident writers at Pendle Hill founded the literary quarterly, Approach, which included submissions of poetry, short stories, and critical work primarily by young authors. Helen served as its managing editor and maintained most of the correspondence. Helen and Albert also wrote a number of prose and poetical works which were published in Approach.
Following their residence at Pendle Hill, the couple moved to Rosemont, Pennsylvania, where they remained until their deaths. They founded Ahab Press in 1946 and planned to publish works by other authors under this imprint, but these plans were never realized. In 1947, Albert finished editing the American edition of Arnold Toynbee's work, War and Civilization.
In the 1950's, he began work on a series of articles which explored the concept of individual freedom from Rousseau to the present. He questioned the ideal of freeing natural man from the corruption of his institutions and intended to publish this material in book form, including much of the material which had appeared in the earlier articles, but this was never accomplished.
The Fowlers spent a good deal of time at Cranberry Lake, the family house in the Adirondacks. Albert V. Fowler edited two anthologies of regional history and folklore that included some of their own prose and poetry which were published by the Adirondack Museum in 1959 and 1968. In the early `60's, Albert Fowler began work on The Fish God, an autobiographical narrative poem which was published in the Spring of 1961. Later versions appeared in mimeographed form, including The Fish God of You Fool (September, 1963), Fools Island (1965), and Fools Island-Edmonds Revision (1966). Together with The Kingdom and Three Crowns, they made up the Rosemont Trilogy. These three works documented his continuing and very painful difficulties in dealing with both his own and his wife's family relationships.
In December of 1968, after a long illness, Albert Fowler was admitted to a hospital in Philadelphia. Soon after, Helen became suddenly ill and succumbed only hours after her husband had died.
The collection is comprised of literary papers, together with publications, as well as some personal papers. It is divided into Series according to the nature of the final product. Wherever possible, the original contents and order within the individual folders have been retained as assembled by the authors during their lifetime.