Harry Ransom Center Acquires Pound Archive

by Staff

A sizable collection of papers, photographs, and personal items of Ezra Pound was recently acquired by the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, Austin. Fourteen archival boxes containing photographs, two chess sets, a scrapbook, and other personal effects such as the late poet’s walking stick and a lock of his baby hair belonged to Marcella Spann Booth, Pound’s secretary and close friend in his later years. Also included in the archive are more than seven hundred letters Pound wrote to Booth, James Laughlin, William Carlos Williams, and others.

“The Ezra Pound collection of Marcella Spann Booth gives us even greater insight into the latter part of this difficult—in every sense of the word—poet’s mind and work,” said Brian A. Bremen, an associate professor of English at the University of Texas. In a press release, the Ransom Center referred to Pound’s later years as a “period of prolific creativity and mental turmoil.”

Spann Booth met Pound when she visited him toward the end of his twelve-year stay at St. Elizabeth’s mental hospital in Washington, D.C. Pound had been hospitalized after being declared unfit to be tried for treason for his support of Mussolini during World War II.

Upon his release in 1958, Spann Booth traveled to Italy with Pound and his wife Dorothy. She later returned to the United States and received her PhD in English.

“It is rare that a collection would become available today that could add so much to the scholarly record about arguably the most ubiquitous of the moderns,” said Ransom Center director Thomas F. Staley. “This untapped collection will be a remarkable resource for scholars of 20th century literature.”

The collection, which adds to the Center’s existing Pound materials, is expected to be available for public viewing by spring 2009.