Letters to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings by Others: A-K
Scope and Contents
The Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings correspondence includes approximately 4,100 letters, almost 1,400 of which were written by her and almost 2,300 to her. Other letters relate to her in some way. The earliest concentration of letters (1918-1923) occurs during her courtship and early years of marriage with Charles A. Rawlings, Jr. After a hiatus of several years, extensive correspondence resumes in the 1930s, after she had moved to Cross Creek, Florida, and continues to her death in 1953. There is a particularly heavy concentration of letters during the war years 1943-1944, especially with her husband Norton Baskin, who served as an ambulance driver on the India-Burma front during World War II.
Approximately 900 letters are to Baskin. Another 230 are from her editor at Scribner's, Maxwell Perkins. Other major recipients of letters are her aunt Ida Tarrant (95), Norman Berg (60), Clifford and Gladys Lyons (59), Berniece and Walter Gilkyson (49), first husband Charles A. Rawlings (40), college friend Bee McNeill (24), and author/photographer Carl Van Vechten (16). Principal writers of letters to Rawlings are Perkins, Baskin, Charles Rawlings, her Phoenix aunts, Grace, Marjorie, and Wilmer Kinnan, brother Arthur Kinnan, and friends Julia Scribner Bigham, James Branch Cabell, and Gene Baro. Major names in the correspondence, although in lesser numbers, include A. J. Cronnin, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ellen Glasgow, Ernest Hemingway and two of his wives, Martha Gellhorn and Mary Hemingway, Zora Neale Hurston, Margaret Mitchell, Sigrid Undset, and Owen D. Young.
The letters represent a wide range of personal and literary topics that illumine many aspects of Rawlings' life and career. The Perkins letters are especially relevant to her writing, as the letters to her husbands are to many aspects of her personal life. There are many letters relating to the Cross Creek Trial (Cason vs. Baskin) that are separately identified in the guide. Most of the correspondence is handwritten or typed originals. A few are typed copies and there are some photocopies (notably letters to Norman Berg and letters from the University of Florida Archives).
The Rawlings correspondence is a collection gathered over a period of time from various sources. The nucleus was donated by Rawlings during her lifetime, along with some of her principal manuscripts, to found the Libraries Creative Writing collection. Other correspondence from her estate was donated later by her husband, Norton Baskin. In addition Rawlings's literary executor, Julia Scribner Bigham, her biographer, Gordon Bigelow, and members of the library staff attempted to collect letters from her correspondents, and made other efforts to procure additional Rawlings correspondence.
In 1998, the libraries acquired almost 500 letters from Marjorie to Norton from his grandniece Judith Oliver. Additional Baskin-Rawlings correspondence was acquired in 2001 from Phil May, Jr., a close friend of Norton Baskin.
Arrangement: The Rawlings letters are filed chronologically in 41 boxes, with the following exceptions:
Box 31: "Miscellaneous Correspondence" contains letters copied from the University of Florida and from the Rollins College archives, and a folder of correspondence from the files of Dwye Evans, an agent, relating to the British edition of THE SOJOURNER.
Box 32: Letters of condolence sent to Norton Baskin upon the death of Marjorie. The condolence letters and cards are not included in the count of Rawlings letters, nor are they listed in the accompanying description.
Boxes 33-38: The "May accession," a group of letters, primarily between Rawlings and Norton Baskin from 1943-1953, that was acquired in 2001.
Box 39: Readers letters.
Boxes 40-41: Letters from Rawlings to Julia Scribner Bigham, 1939-1953 acquired in 2019.
Although the letters are physically arranged chronologically, they are described in two main parts: 1) Letters by Marjorie Rawlings, and 2) Letters to Her and Other Letters. The description for each letter usually includes the name of the author, whether typed or handwritten (see note on abbreviations), recipient, date, place of writing, pagination, and a short abstract. Letters with a month, but no day are usually placed before dated letters. Letters with a year, but no month are placed at the end of the year. Letters with no dates are placed last. Dates, indicated by square brackets, i.e.  have been supplied for many letters which lack them. Many of these dates are quite accurate, often coming from an accompanying envelope, or can easily be inferred from the contents of the letter. Others are estimates, or even guesses, usually indicated by circa dates (ca.) or question marks (?).
A chronological listing as well as listings by accession is available in the Department of Special Collections.
- Majority of material found within 1916-1953
The collection is open for research.
From the Collection: 43.47 Linear feet
Language of Materials
From the Collection: English
Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository
George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America