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Archives & Manuscripts

Albert Vann Fowler Papers

 Collection
Identifier: SFHL-RG5-046
Albert Vann Fowler (1904-1968) and Helen Wose Fowler (1907-1968), married to each other in 1937, were poets, freelance writers, and managing editors of the literary periodical, Approach. They also founded Ahab Press in Rosemont, Pa. Albert V. Fowler was a Quaker.

This collection is primarily composed of literary manuscripts and publications. Included are materials on Scylla the Beautiful, Landcastle, Two Trends in Modern Quaker Thought, The Fish God, as well as numerous lesser works. Also contains information on War and Civilization, edited by Albert V. Fowler, Approach magazine, and correspondence with Anne G. Sneller, S. Stansfield and Virginia Sargent, Helen Morgan Brooks, and their only child, Albert W. Fowler.

Dates

  • 1923-1970

Creator

Limitations on Accessing the Collection

Collection is open for research.

Copyright and Rights Information

Copyright has not been assigned to Friends Historical Library All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in to the Director. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Friends Historical Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by reader.

Extent

6 Linear Feet (12 boxes)

Overview

Albert Vann Fowler (1904-1968) and Helen Wose Fowler (1907-1968), married to each other in 1937, were poets, freelance writers, and managing editors of the literary periodical, Approach. They also founded Ahab Press in Rosemont, Pa. Albert V. Fowler was a Quaker. This collection is primarily composed of literary manuscripts and publications. Included are materials on Scylla the Beautiful, Landcastle, Two Trends in Modern Quaker Thought, The Fish God, as well as numerous lesser works. Also contains information on War and Civilization, edited by Albert V. Fowler, Approach magazine, and correspondence with Anne G. Sneller, S. Stansfield and Virginia Sargent, Helen Morgan Brooks, and their only child, Albert W. Fowler.

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.

Physical Location

For current information on the location of materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donor: Abert W. Fowler, 1990
Immediate Source of Acquisition Albert W. Fowler is the son of Albert Vann and Helen Wose Fowler.

Separated Materials

Scylla the Beautiful. Written by AVF and HWF. Hamilton, NY: Republican Press, 1939 (edition of 550 copies, 175 signed): in FHL, BX7617.F715 S2

Landcastle. Written by AVF and HWF. Rosemont, PA: Ahab Press, 1961: in McCabe TreasRm Z239.A27 F78

Two Trends in Modern Quaker Thought: A Statement of Belief. Written by AVF. Wallingford, PA: Pendle Hill, 1961: in FHL, BX7732.P4 v.112

The Fish God. Written by AVF. Approach, #39, Spring, 1961: in McCabe, periodicals

Publication of Christianity and Civilization by Arnold J. Toynbee. Wallingford, Pa: Pendle Hill: in FHL, BX7732.P4 v.39, 1940-47.

Cranberry Lake From Wilderness to Adirondack Park. Edited by AVF. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press/Adirondack Museum, 1968: in H SC Quaker, BX7796.2.F78 C89

Tentacles of Greed, by by S. Stansfeld Sargent and Albert V. Fowler (manuscript [ca. 1935]) in FHL, E806 .F68

Lion of Judah, by Helen & Albert Fowler (manuscript [ca. 1941?]) in FHL, BX7617.F715 L56

Fool's Island (Edmonds revision) (manuscript, 1966) in FHL, BX7617.F715 F66 1966

Fish God of You Fool (manuscript [1963]) in FHL, BX7617.F715 F57 1963

Processing Information

Received arranged in folders. Preliminary inventory done by donor (see: Ser.1 BIOGRAPHY. Lists of Publications). Catalogued, refoldered, and stored RG 4. Duplicate materials returned to donor.

Creator

Title
An Inventory of the Albert Vann Fowler Papers, 1923-1970
Author
FHL staff
Date
1992
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
English
Sponsor
Encoding made possible by a grant by the Gladys Kriebel Delmas Foundation to the Philadelphia Consortium of Special Collections Libraries

Revision Statements

  • 2016: This electronic finding aid was updated in Summer 2016 by Abdulrezak Kemal in preparation for importing into ArchivesSpace, to conform to current markup standards and the ArchivesSpace data model.

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