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Marianne Craig Moore papers

 Collection — Box: 1-24
Identifier: BMC-M98

Scope and Contents

The Marianne Craig Moore papers is an artificial collection pertaining to Marianne Moore created from a wide range of materials contributed from a large number of individuals. The collection, which ranges from 1904 to 1991, includes correspondence, photographs, audio recordings, manuscripts and artwork, news clippings, ephemera, tribute poems to Moore by others, and reflections on Moore's life by those who knew her. The collection is extensive and illuminates all aspects of Moore’s life.

The collection consists of eleven series: “Series I: Correspondence,” “Series II: Photographs,” “Series III: Audio Recordings,” “Series IV: News Clippings and Ephemera,” “Series V: Manuscripts,” “Series VI: Published Works,” “Series VII: Notes on the Life and Personality of MCM,” “Series VIII: Tributes to MCM,” “Series IX: Art by Marianne Moore,” “Series X: Realia,” and “Series XI: K. Laurence Stapleton Marianne Moore Papers.”

“Series I: Correspondence” is divided into outgoing, incoming, and third party correspondence. It also includes Hildegarde and J. Sibley Watson’s correspondence with Moore. For more information on the Watson’s correspondence, refer to the separate finding aid. “Series II: Photographs” is divided into photographs of Marianne Moore, Moore’s mother and brother, Gilbert Seldes, and the Watsons. “Series III: Audio Recordings” contains recordings of Marianne speaking at Cooper Hall, at the Colony House, and other places. It also contains some partial transcription of tapes and reels, and notes by Laurence Stapleton on Moore’s conversations with Hildegarde Watson. “Series IV: News Clippings and Ephemera” contains a number of miscellaneous articles related to Moore, Bryn Mawr, and sports. The series is arranged alphabetically by topic. “Series V: Manuscripts” consists of poetry and prose by Moore, some of which is from the J. Sibley and Hildegarde Watson collection. “Series VI: Published Works” contains a bibliography of writings by Moore, as well as more of her poetry and prose. “Series VII: Notes on the Life and Personality of MCM” are written by Bernard Waldman and Hildegarde Watson and some miscellaneous people. “Series VIII: Tributes to Marianne Moore” come in the form of tribute art, tribute poems, and a 1991 Marianne Moore stamp. “Series IX: Art by Marianne Moore” contains several original sketches and watercolors by Moore. It also houses a photocopy of a reading diary of Moore’s. “Series X: Realia” contains ephemera, including one of Moore’s famous tricorn hats and long black capes. Note: these items are housed in the Art and Artifacts section of Bryn Mawr Special Collections. “Series XI: K. Laurence Stapleton Marianne Moore Papers” contains materials related to K. Laurence Stapleton’s book Marianne Moore: The Poet’s Advance; the Marianne Moore estate; and the Marianne Moore Poetry Fund. More information on this very large series can be found in the separate K. Laurence Stapleton finding aid.

Marianne Moore was one of the most celebrated modern poets. This collection provides insight into Moore’s poetry and writing process, but also her personal life and relationships. It would be a highly valuable resource for anyone interested in Marianne Moore, J. Sibley Watson, Hildegarde Watson, K. Laurence Stapleton, and Bryn Mawr College.


  • Creation: 1904 - 1991
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1905 - 1972


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Marianne Craig Moore papers are the physical property of Bryn Mawr College Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their heirs and assigns.

Biographical / Historical

Marianne Craig Moore was an award-winning modernist poet, writer, and critic known for her precise use of words, unusual style, and speech-like poetic rhythm. Marianne was born in Kirkwood, Missouri on November 15, 1887 to Mary Warner Moore and John Milton Moore. Because Moore’s father suffered a mental breakdown prior to her birth, Marianne never knew him. She grew up in the house of her grandfather, John R. Warner, a Presbyterian minister.

After the death of Reverend Moore in 1894, Mary moved Marianne and her older brother, John, to Allegheny City, Pennsylvania and then to Carlisle, Pennsylvania to be closer to other relatives. Mary, John, and Marianne were extremely close and filled much of their spare time with reading. Mary taught English at the Metzger Institute in Carlisle, where Marianne received her initial education. A single mother, Mary worked so that John could attend college at Yale and Marianne could go to Bryn Mawr.

In 1904 and 1905, Marianne took entrance examinations in preparation for attending Bryn Mawr. She moved into her dormitory in the fall of 1905. Although she had wanted to be an English major, her professors refused to let her, saying that her writing was too obscure and that she consistently violated rules of grammar and language—two qualities that would be hallmarks of her modernist poetry. Despite her disappointment, Marianne continued to read avidly and wrote during her college years. She published short stories and poetry in Bryn Mawr’s Tipyn o’Bob and Lantern. Marianne also had a keen interest in biology but was discouraged from majoring in the subject since her mother thought that biology was no profession for a lady. Animals and nature, however, were never far from her mind or her poetry. In the end, Marianne graduated in the Class of 1909 with a B.A. in history, economics, and politics.

After graduation, Marianne and her mother took a trip abroad. Her experiences overseas perceptibly influenced her poetry. Upon returning to the United States, Marianne attempted to have her poetry published. At the same time, she sought a job working for publishers or magazines. Failing on both fronts, she attended the Carlisle Commercial College to learn secretarial skills to become more qualified for work. Marianne got her first position working for Melvil Dewey as his secretary at the Lake Placid Club. She next worked as a teacher at the United States Indian School in Carlisle. While Marianne was teaching, she managed to find time to write. She was professionally published, at last, in 1915.

Marianne and her mother moved to New York City in 1918. With her mother always at her side, she churned out poetry, read voraciously, and interacted with other modernist poets. In 1920, Marianne was published ever more frequently in The Dial, a modernist magazine. Purchased by Scofield Thayer and J. Sibley Watson, Jr. in 1919, The Dial became a popular outlet for modernist thought, literature, and art. The art of Pablo Picasso, Renoir, Vincent Van Gogh, and Edvard Munch, among others, and the poetry of E.E. Cummings, William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, and W.B. Yeats, among others, were often featured in the magazine. In 1925, Thayer finally got Moore to agree to become acting editor of The Dial. Soon, she permanently replaced him. Moore was editor until 1929 when the magazine ceased publication. Until her death, Marianne would maintain a close friendship with J. Sibley Watson, Jr. and his wife Hildegarde.

During the 1930s and 1940s, Marianne was an active freelance writer and published books of her poetry. In 1947 she was devastated by the loss of her mother. The 1950s and 1960s brought Moore more fame and recognition. Her Collected Poems, published in 1951, won her the Bollingen Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, and the National Book Award. She was also the recipient of The National Medal for Literature, France’s Croix de Chevalier, and sixteen honorary degrees. Until the onset of her final illness in 1969, Moore traveled, participated in numerous speaking engagements, and graciously offered advice to young writers. She died on February 5, 1972. In addition to being remembered as a groundbreaking poet, Marianne Moore is remembered for her captivating conversations, iconic tricorn cap, advocacy for the conservation of Prospect Park, and love for baseball and Brooklyn.

Bibliography Willis, Patricia C. 1987. Marianne Moore: Vision into Verse. Philadelphia: Rosenbach Museum and Library.


12 linear ft.

Language of Materials



Marianne Craig Moore (1887-1972) was an award-winning modernist poet. She graduated from Bryn Mawr in 1909 with a B.A. in history, economics, and politics. The poet was published for the first time in 1915, and by 1920, her poetry was frequently featured in The Dial, a magazine that served as an outlet for modernist thought and art. From 1925-1929, Moore was editor of The Dial. During the 1930s and 1940s, she published her poetry in books and did freelance writing. The 1950s and 1960s brought Moore fame and recognition: her Collected Poems, published in 1951, won her the Bollingen Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, and the National Book Award. She was also the recipient of The National Medal for Literature, France's Croix de Chevalier, and sixteen honorary degrees. Throughout her life, she participated in many speaking engagements and offered advice to young poets. Moore was also noteworthy for her iconic tricorn hat and her love for baseball and Brooklyn.

The Marianne Craig Moore Papers include correspondence, photographs, audio recordings, manuscripts and artwork, news clippings, and ephemera, as well as reflections on the poet and poems written in tribute to her. A subset of the collection, the K. Laurence Stapleton Marianne Moore Papers include Stapleton's correspondence with the poet, materials related to the verse composition course Moore taught at Bryn Mawr, Stapleton's research notes, and manuscript and galley copies of her book, Marianne Moore: The Poet's Advance. Correspondence and documents regarding the management of Marianne Moore's estate, Stapleton's fight to save the Dial Papers, and the establishment of the Marianne Moore Poetry Fund are also in this subset.

Custodial History

Many individuals have contributed materials to the collection of Marianne Craig Moore Papers. Hildegarde and J. Sibley Watson, Jr. contributed photographs, manuscripts, news clippings, audio recordings, a tricorn hat, a long black cape, a briefcase, and an enormous amount of correspondence. Marianne Moore's nieces, Marianne Craig "Bee" Moore II and Sallie Moore, contributed correspondence, photographs, manuscripts, news clippings and student notebooks. K. Laurence Stapleton was responsible for a subset of the collection which includes her own correspondence with the poet, research notes, and manuscript and galley copies of her book Marianne Moore: The Poet's Advance as well as materials related to Moore's verse composition course, the management of the Marianne Moore estate, the establishment of the Marianne Moore Poetry Fund.

Responsible for the materials that supplement the Watsons', Moores', and K. Laurence Stapleton's major contributions are Bryn Mawr College alumnae: Fannie S. Barber Berry (Class of 1909), Helen B. Crane (Class of 1909), Nina Montgomery Dana (Class of 1945), Grace Wooldridge Dewes (Class of 1909), Katherine G. Ecob (Class of 1909), Marjorie Young Gifford (Class of 1909), Blanch Shapiro Grant (Class of 1933), Patsy von Kienbusch Little (Class of 1947), Gertrude M. Macy (Class of 1926), Anna Marcet Haldeman-Julius (Class of 1909), Mary Frank Case Pevear (Class of 1911), Helen Sandison (Class of 1906), Jane Yeatman Savage (Class of 1922), Mrs. Barbara B. Thacher Plimpton (Class of 1965), and Mary K. Woodworth (Class of 1924). Additionally, the Marianne Moore Poetry Fund, Friends of the Bryn Mawr College Library, Mrs. Gilbert Charbonneau, Janice Pries, John Francis Putnam, Lewis Turco, Bernard Waldman, and Michael Watson have contributed important materials.

Marianne Craig Moore papers
Marianne Hansen, Jennifer Hoit, Melissa Torquato
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