Columbia Acquires Calisher Papers
New York, NY (November 9, 2009)
Photo, David Gahr
— Columbia University's Rare Book and Manuscript Library has acquired the papers of the noted Yaddo novelist and short story writer Hortense Calisher
Calisher, who died in January at age 97, enjoyed a long and distinguished career in literature. She wrote 15 novels, six volumes of short fiction, and three memoirs. Three of her books were nominated for the National Book Award and she received two Guggenheim Fellowships. In 1989, the National Endowment for the Arts presented her with a Lifetime Achievement Award. She was a guest artist at Yaddo 10 times between 1955 and 1970, but became an even more familiar presence at Yaddo when her husband, the writer Curtis Harnack, served as Yaddo's Executive Director from 1971 to 1987 and the two lived on the Yaddo grounds.
"Her work will outlast us all," said writer Allan Gurganus, who met Calisher at Yaddo and maintained a lifelong friendship with her. "She seemed able to combine genres in ways only true pioneers ever manage. Science Fiction meets the Novel of Manners. Outer Space meets the freefall of Inner Thought. The Novel of Ideas collides with Fable…I marvel at the depth of her writing, its richness, its many tones, its steadying virtuosity."
Calisher's papers run to more than 100 linear feet and include all of her published and unpublished work. There is a voluminous correspondence with writers, editors, and critics, as well as notebooks, diaries, and audio and visual material, including photographs – some dating to the 19th century – identified in her own hand. The manuscripts, especially from the early years, reveal remarkably few revisions.
When organized and processed, the Calisher collection will be available for research. For more information, contact the Columbia University Rare Book and Manuscript Library at 212.854.5153 or through their web site.