ECU’s Joyner Library to debut Southern authors collection

ECU News Services

The J. Y. Joyner Library at East Carolina University will celebrate the debut of the Stuart Wright Collection on Sept. 7 with an opening event for the exhibit, “Stuart Wright: A Life in Collecting.”

Former North Carolina poet laureate Fred Chappell, who is a friend of Wright, will read a poem written for the occasion. Wright will not attend the event.

The Wright Collection consists of more than 3,000 printed works and 5,000 manuscripts and has been in the processing stages at Joyner Library since its acquisition in 2010.

Stuart Wright (Photo by Linda Fox)

Included are portions of the private libraries of Richard Eberhart, who taught for many years at Dartmouth College, the English poet Donald Davie, and such Southern writers as Randall Jarrell, John Crowe Ransom, Peter Taylor and Robert Penn Warren, as well as many first editions of their works.

Many of the books contain significant inscriptions, annotations, and insertions that shed light on the writers’ thought processes and their relationships with their peers. The collection also contains significant manuscript material, including notebooks, letters, and literary stet by Madison Smartt Bell, Eberhart, Jarrell, Ransom, Taylor and Warren.

At the opening event, ECU Department of English associate professor Thomas Douglass will speak about the collection’s significance. Guests will receive an exhibition booklet and broadside print commemorating the event.

“I am very pleased to have this collection come home to North Carolina and to East Carolina,” said Douglass. “Its importance will last for generations, enhancing the quality of education at the university and ensuring the cultural trust to which our library and librarians are dedicated.”

The exhibit on display in the Special Collections department is intended to inaugurate the collection and introduce it to the general public. Organized thematically, it displays the vast array of information in the collection and showcases it as a source for academic research.

Maury York, assistant director for Special Collections said, “The Stuart Wright Collection will afford students and scholars a myriad of opportunities to study the lives and work of some of the 20th century’s most important writers of poetry, novels and short stories. The books, correspondence and literary manuscripts in this rich collection also document some of these writers’ strong friendships and working relationships. Joyner Library is fortunate to have had the opportunity to acquire this collection.”

Wright, a native of North Carolina and graduate of Wake Forest University, lives in Ludlow, England. A noted bibliographer and collector, Wright is best known for his published bibliographies of such noted American writers as A.R. Ammons, James Dickey, Richard Eberhart, George Garrett, William Goyen, Randall Jarrell, Andrew Nelson Lytle, Walker Percy, Peter Taylor and Reynolds Price. Wright developed close relationships with many of the writers represented in the collection.

Dr. Larry Boyer, dean of Academic Library and Learning Resources at East Carolina, said of Wright, “I am so thankful to Stuart for his commitment to literature and bibliography. Literary researchers will be making their way to our university and library to work amongst this treasure trove of southern American literature.”

The opening event on Sept. 7 will begin at 5 p.m. in the exhibit gallery on the second floor of the library. Attendees may call 252-328-6514 for parking details.

The exhibit will be on display through Sept. 30 in Special Collections located on the fourth floor.

For more information, contact Dawn Wainwright at (252) 328-4090.

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