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Elizabeth Spencer fonds. - 1957-1982. - 20 m of textual record and other material.

Biographical Sketch

Elizabeth Spencer was born in Carrollton, Mississippi in 1921 to a storytelling and book-loving family in a community steeped in the oral traditions of the South. Spencer attended Belhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi (1938) and then Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee (1942) where she studied English literature. Her first novel, Fire in the Morning, published in 1948, was well-received. With the support of the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1953 she moved to Italy to concentrate on her writing. There she met and later married John Rusher. After five years in Italy and the publication of Spencer's third novel, the couple moved to Montreal where they lived from 1958 to 1986. She taught creative writing for several years at Concordia University. In 1986, Spencer moved to North Carolina and took a position as Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina for five years. She received numerous literary prizes and honours, including the McGraw-Hill Fiction Prize for her most popular work of fiction, The Light in the Piazza (1960) which was later made into a film. Spencer received honorary doctorate degrees from Rhodes College (1968), Concordia University (1988), and the University of the South (1992). In 1985, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters and in 1992 was awarded the John Dos Passos Award for Literature.

Scope and Content

The Elizabeth Spencer fonds includes correspondence; manuscripts and typescripts of novels and short stories, including: The Light in the Piazza, Knights and Dragons, No Place for an Angel, Ship Island and Other Stories, The Snare, The Stories of Elizabeth Spencer and The Salt Line; and memorabilia. The 1997 accession includes manuscripts, drafts, page proofs, and correspondence relating to Landscapes of the Heart: A Memoir; and documentation of literary activities, audio tapes, and videos.

Immediate Source of Acquisition: fonds acquired from Elizabeth Spencer in various accessions. [1984-03, 1987-17, 1989-21, 1991-11, 1992-16, 1993-10, 1994-04, 1997-03]

In 1993, the National Library of Canada received 65 letters (1959-1993) written by Elizabeth Spencer to Morton King, a former colleague at the University of Mississippi. [1993-10]

Language: material in the fonds is in English.

Restrictions: restrictions on access to personal correspondence.

Finding Aid: finding aid available for some accessions.

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