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George Garrett papers

Identifier: MSS 13273

Scope and Contents

The papers of George Garrett (1929-2008), American novelist, poet, playwright, editor, and former University of Virginia English professor, consists of about 30,000 items (104 Hollinger boxes, ca. 43.5 linear feet), chiefly 1930-2008, with some earlier photographs and Garrett family materials dating back to 1855. The collection contains correspondence, manuscripts and typescripts of literary and critical work by George Garrett, interviews, manuscripts and typescripts by other writers, speeches and talks by Garrett, Garrett’s articles and other work for the Dictionary of Literary Biography, screenplays, research notes and other research materials, genealogy and family history, photographs, computer disks of his work, and audiocassette tapes. The audio cassette tapes have been transferred to a separate number (MSS 13273-f) to facilitate access, description, and barcoding. Electronic versions of Garrett’s work, chiefly interviews and some short stories, are listed in this guide and can be made available to scholars in the Special Collections reading room.


  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1855-2008, 1930-2008

Conditions Governing Access

There ars no access restrictions for this collection, except for Box 21, which contains tenure reviews and recommendations, and is restricted under the terms of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (F.E.R.P.A.).

Conditions Governing Use

There are no use restrictions for this collection, except for Box 21, which contains tenure reviews and recommendations, and is restricted under the terms of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (F.E.R.P.A.).

Biographical / Historical

George Palmer Garrett, Jr. was born to George Palmer and Rosalie Toomer Garrett in Orlando, Florida, on June 11, 1929. He married musician Susan Parrish Jackson on June 14, 1952, and they had three children, William Palmer Garrett, Rosalie Alice Garrett, and George Gorham Garrett. Garrett died in Charlottesville, on May 26, 2008, at 78 years of age. Garrett graduated from the Sewanee Military Academy, Sewanee, Tennessee, in 1946, and the Hill School, Pottstown, Pennsylvania, in 1947. His college education began at Princeton, where he was awarded his Bachelor’s degree in 1952, his Master’s in 1956, and his doctorate in 1985 for his work on his three Elizabethan novels. After his graduation from Princeton in 1952, Garrett served in the U.S. Army Active Reserves (Field Artillery) in the Free Territory of Trieste and in Linz, Austria.

Garrett taught at the University of Virginia from 1962-1967 and again as the Henry Hoyns professor of creative writing from 1984-1999. He also taught at Wesleyan University (1957-1960), Rice University (1961-1962), Hollins College (1967-1971), the University of South Carolina (1971-1974), Princeton (1974-1977), Columbia University (1977-1978), and the University of Michigan (1979-1984). He also served as poetry editor for the Transatlantic Review from 1958-1971. Garrett was a popular choice for literary readings, lectures and talks to a variety of audiences; a book reviewer for many publications; and served as a reader for several academic presses. He was also very generous in his recommendations of students and colleagues and in supporting publications of new authors with blurbs and other statements.

Some recent examples of Garrett’s many awards and honors include: The T.S. Eliot Award (1989), the Thomas Wolfe Prize (2006), the PEN/Malamud Award for short fiction (1991), the Library of Virginia Lifetime Achievement Award (2005), the New York Public Library Literary Lion Award (1988), Aiken-Taylor Award (1999) the Cleanth Brooks Medal for Lifetime Achievement from the Fellowship of Southern Writers (2005), and the Carole Weinstein Poetry Prize (2006). He also served as Vice-Chancellor of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, 1988-1993, and as Chancellor, 1993-1997, as well as President of the Associated Writing Programs, 1971-1974.

For more information about Garrett and his work, the following books are useful: Understanding George Garrett by R.H.W. Dillard; George Garrett: the Elizabethan Trilogy edited by Brooke Horvath and Irving Malin; To Come Up Grinning: A Tribute to George Garrett by Paul Ruffin and Stuart Wright; and The Art of the Magic Striptease: the Literary Layers of George Garrett by Casey Clabough. Stuart Wright has also edited George Garrett A Bibliography, 1947-1988, which is useful for his earlier work. Resources within the collections include three folders of articles about George Garrett in Box 66 and assorted news clippings about his career in Box 76. There are also numerous resources available on the internet and other shorter print sources.


56 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



The papers of George Garrett are organized in four series:

I) Correspondence of George Garrett Subseries A: Alphabetical Correspondence (Boxes 1-18) Subseries B: Topical Correspondence (Boxes 19-21) II) Manuscripts by George Garrett: Subseries A: Shorter Works (Boxes 22-42) Subseries B: Speeches and Talks (Boxes 43-44) Subseries C: Books (Boxes 45-56) Subseries D: Dictionary of Literary Biography Articles arranged chronologically (Boxes 57-60) III) Papers concerning Professional, Personal, and Organizational Activities Subseries A: Organizations, Conferences, and Workshops (Boxes 61-65) Subseries B: Professional and Personal Papers of George Garrett (Boxes 66-85) IV) Manuscripts by Other Authors (Boxes 86-104)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The bulk of the collection was received in two shipments, 38 cubics on March 23, 2005, and 15 cubics on July 29, 2005. This group became (13273) and although it was originally a deposit it became a gift upon the death of George Garrett. A smaller addition of four items (MSS 13273-a, formerly MSS 10903-a) was given to Special Collections by George Garrett on January 31 and March 3, 1990. Six additional cubics (MSS 13273-b) were given to Special Collections by Garrett on March 30, 2006. Other groups were added by his wife, Susan Garrett, on August 12 and November 24, 2008 (MSS 13273-c) and January 6, 2009 (MSS 13273-d) and a final gift from Susan Garrett on April 13, 2009 and October 6, 2010 (MSS 13273-e). These have all been combined and processed as one large collection with a single guide.

A small addition (viu 2018-0066), all pertaining to Garrett's "Poison Pen" manuscript, was given to Special Collections on March 23, 2018, by Charlie Lovett.

George Garrett papers
Sharon Defibaugh
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library Repository

Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
P.O. Box 400110
University of Virginia
Charlottesville Virginia 22904-4110 United States