D. H. Ramsey Library Special Collections and University Archives

Helen Wilson Papers
1945- 1977


Title Helen Wilson Papers
Alt. Title Helen Wilson and Nancy Brown Papers
Creator Helen Martha Wilson
Alt. Creator Nancy Brown
Identifier http://toto.lib.unca.edu/findingaids/mss/wilson_helen_papers/default_wilson_helen_papers.htm
Subject Keyword : Helen Wilson ; Nancy Brown ; Asheville, NC ; books ; poetry ; book stores ; business ; literary criticism ; relationships ; commitment ; book sales ;
Subject LCSH : Brown, Nancy
Wilson, Helen
Poets, American -- North Carolina

Asheville (N.C.) -- Books
Book stores -- North Carolina -- Asheville
Description The documents in this collection include letters, poetry, literary manuscripts, literary criticism and notes written largely by Helen Wilson and gathered be Nancy Brown, long-time partner of Wilson. Helen Wilson operated the Book Mart bookstore at 7 Biltmore Plaza, Asheville, NC. The material provides a working portrait of a poet throughout her life: a chronicle of love, commitment, and an evolving personal relationship. Letters provide a window to the operation of a small independent book store during the late 1950's to the late 1970's. Nancy Brown served as the Executor for the estate of Helen Wilson and letters related to her role with regard to the literary material of Helen Wilson are also included.
Publisher D.H. Ramsey Library,  Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville
Contributor Sam Burton, Grey Matter Books greymatterbooks@comcast.net
Date Original 1950's - 1970's
Date Digital 2009-01-30
Type Collection ; Text 
Format Loose papers in one 3" manuscript box
Source M2008.14.1
Language English
Relation Southern Appalachian Writers D.H. Ramsey Library Special Collections ;
Coverage Temporal 1950's - 1970's
Coverage Spatial Asheville, North Carolina
Rights Any display, publication, or public use must credit the D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville.
Copyright retained by the creators of certain items in the collection, or their descendents, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Copyright issues need careful scrutiny in this collection of contemporary material, some previously published
Donor # 351
Acquisition 2008-12-19
Citation Helen Wilson Papers, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804
Processed by Special Collections staff, 2009 HW ; 2013 CR
Update 2010-05-17 ; 2013-07-05
Box Folder Item I.D. # Description
1 1 1 Gyrfalcon Night - Final Manuscript copy (1977)
    2 8/6/1977 - letter from Ashantilly Press to Nancy Brown
  2 1 Gyrfalcon Night - Draft
    2 Gyrfalcon Night - Draft [Showing title change from A Blind Understanding]
    3 Gyrfalcon Night - Draft
    4 Draft copy of Gyrfalcon Night and loose draft sheets from the publication ?
    5 Draft copy of Gyrfalcon Night and loose draft sheets from the publication ?
  3 1 2 book covers for Gyrfalcon Night
  4 1 Draft copy of Review  of Gyrfalcon Night, by Frances P. Hulme, Asheville, 1977.
    2 Copy of  Review of Gyrfalcon Night, by Frances P. Hulme, Asheville , as it appeared in the [Asheville] Citizen Times, on Sunday, Nov. 19, 1978.. [10 copies acquired (3 retained)]
      POEMS [loose array of poems on single typed sheets or handwritten]
  5 1 6/27/1946 - "How bitterly we see in retrospect ..."
    2 7/3/1946 - "When Day comes groping, flinging wide her white ...
    3 7/7/1946 - SUMMER-EVE " The white ghost moon lies waiting in the sky...."
    4 Christmas 1947 - CHRISTMAS POEM "Jesus the Babychild ..."
  6 1 7/3/1946 - "When day comes groping, flinging wide her white..."

Handwritten draft on Bank of Pinehurst letterhead.  Note: "For Thee"

    2 XIV "When Love, Sweet Tyrant, finds too futile speech..." [Numbered page 14]
    3 XI "Remembered Beauty wears a poignant gear..."
    4 7/21/1946 -  "You died not wholly: death cannot defeat..."
    5 8/1/1946 - ANTICIPATION "The timid words stand naked in my throat..."
  7 1 1/17/1945 - REQUIEM "No silver rhythm of the waves at sea..."  Handwritten.
    2 11/1/1945 - SONNET IX "Remembered Beauty wears a poignant gear..."  Also, figures in the margin for a "Black Chesterfield."  Handwritten.
    3 4 SONNET LINES "Your half-crooked arm I covet now the most..."  Handwritten.
    4 "I can remember the first dawn I saw..."  Typed, last line handwritten: "I can remember everything that was ever you!"
    5 Journal clipping with the poem, REQUIEM.  Below, recognition of Helen Wilson "for selling so many bonds to her friends.." for the war effort.
    6 Envelope enclosure for preceding poems
  8 1 Scrap of torn paper with a handwritten comment about the poem, "I am very young who remember with despair..."  On the reverse side, part of a note about a reduction in rent, "my leibchen!!"
    2 "I think p...[paper is torn] wishing you were here."  Mention of a poem by Michael Drayton and this one of Christina Rossetti:  "Go from me, summer friends, and tarry not..."
    3 Typed copy of poem by Michael Drayton (1563-1631) "Since there's no help, come let us kiss and part..."
    4 7/29/44 - "A high, full moon and a rock sea-wall..." 
    5 7/9/44 - "I am the dawn that you have dreamed..."
    6 Blue envelope enclosure for preceding material
  9 1 "A Reader's Tour of Atlanta Bookstores", by Steve Oney - article in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution Magazine, 5-21-1978,sent by Fred C. Bose, Proprietor of "Hound Dog Press Book Shop," to Nancy Brown at the Book Mart in Asheville. The article explores the work of book stores in the Southeast in the 1970's.
  10   Ephemera
    1 Flat Rock Playhouse (Program for 14th Season)
  11 1 5 book jackets for  Restless Wilderness : Poems by Helen Martha Wilson, Book and Jacket Design by Author, published by The Book Mart.
    2 Printer's proof page for Restless Wilderness : Poems by Helen Martha Wilson, 1947. Printed at the Stephens Press, Asheville, N.C. Includes poem, III, "There is no peace in this invaded room ....", and poem VI, "The Quarrel"
  12   Typed drafts of poems, many dated 1945.  These may be the poems that were published in Restless Wilderness.  Included is an early draft of the printer's proof of poem, III, which is in folder 11.
    1 RETURN "Rich warm as wind of early summer night..."
    2 6/27/1945 - MOONWOE "When beauty walks in this invaded room..."

This is the early draft of poem III, "There is no peace in this invaded room ...."  Draft shows yet earlier lines crossed out and corrected in the author's hand.

    3 6/27 - 7/4/1945 - MOONWOE "While beauty walks in this invaded room..."

Revision with penciled questions: "Trite?"

    4 6/27 - 7/4/1945 - MOONWOE "There is no peace in this invaded room..."

Revision with note: "My preference."

    5 6/22/1945 - III "The wings of dawn that bear the heavy day..."
    6 6/24/1945 - 4 "Ah, I am human, young, and earthy - yes..."
    7 8/1/1945 - THE QUARREL "Hold not too strictly to account my words..."

Draft of poem that was published in Restless Wilderness.  Printer's proof of poem is in folder 11.

    8 10/25/1945 - SONNET VII "So cold the kiss of Marble Duty's feet..."
    9 Torn scrap with verse and explanation :

"Your mouth is battened on my brain..."

    10 REQUIEM "No silver rhythm of the waves at sea..."
    11 REQUIEM "No silver rhythm of the waves at sea..." 

Alternate draft

    12 11/1/1945 revised, 11/3/1945 - "Remembered Beauty wears a poignant gear..."
    13 10/31/45 - SONNET VIII "Now wholly yours, this restless wilderness..."
    14 6/10/47 - SONNET TO THE SEA "I cannot reason your intricacies..."
    15 6/18/1947 - Envelope enclosure for the preceding material
  13   Poems by Edward Garner
    1 THE CAVE "Here at the cliff's base on the mountainside..."
    2 REFUGE "Where solitude, in some backwoods retreat..."
    3 VOICES "There are voices in the city..."

Handwriting on the back: "Edward Garner's Poems"

  14 1 Fall 1960 - Signed copy of booklet with Carrol H. Quenzel's article on Southeastern Booksellers, including The Book Mart, exerpted from Southeastern Librarian
    2 3/1953 - Handwritten poem on The Book Mart notepaper, found in envelope with the booklet:

"Say me a word of silk Gossamer Gold..."

  15 1 3/22/65 - Letter from Edward Garner to Nancy Brown "enclosing a few more samples" and suggestion for stamp display
    2 1945 - "Yesterday was wine and fire...".

Handwritten note, "At Hendrix!"

    3 NONSENSE "You are very witty-wise..."
    4 2/9/1948 - CHANT - "You are gallant..."
    5 "Her heart a lost child..."
    6 "I cannot free me..." On reverse - "Cedar Lane, Royal Pines, Arden, N.C., February 11, 1948"
    7 "You are joy..."
    8 JANUARY 1 "Young suckling year..."
    9 "A King was born in Bethlehem..."
    10 2/9/1949 - TO MY INDIFFERENT LOVE GROWN LESS INDIFFERENT "Oh, I had sharpened every wit..."
    11 6/10/1955 - "Yesterday was bittersweet..."

"At Hendrix!"

    12 1/12/1956 - "I will take unto myself all sorrow..."
    13 11/28/1956 - We shall have peace..."

"for Martha"

    14 1952 - MOONLIGHT "The stair of night narrows..."
    15 2/28/1953 - "Say me a word of silk..." [Includes revisions]

Handwritten note, "Song - music for Bd F E Dd  Ed E C"

    16 SAY ME A WORD OF SILK [Includes revisions made in #15]
    17 5/22/1956 - "Yahweh and I have spoken together..." [Includes comment to change second line of third verse]
    18 CHICAGO: 1940 "Wide-lidded nights and the Spring starred sky..." [2 pages]
    19 6/17/1947 - SONNET TO THE NIGHT - "When sleepy, shuffle-footed Day his bed..."
    20 6/17/1947 - PREJUDICE - "One cannot wrest a Generation's hold..."
    21 6/17/1947 - letter from Helen Wilson to Nancy [Brown] enclosing "the two sonnets I wrote tonight"
    22 "Ah, climb with me the silent stair of night..."