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Daniel Hoffman letters to Judith Moffett

Ms. Coll. 1026

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Summary Information

Repository:
University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Creator:
Hoffman, Daniel, 1923-2013
Creator:
Moffett, Judith, 1942-
Title:
Daniel Hoffman letters to Judith Moffett
Date [inclusive]:
1970-2012
Call Number:
Ms. Coll. 1026
Extent:
0.6 linear feet (2 boxes)
Language:
English
Abstract:
Daniel Hoffman (1923-2013) was an American poet and essayist whose lengthy career at the University of Pennsylvania (beginning in 1966) included acting as a dissertation director for Judith Moffett (born 1942), an American poet, English professor, Swedish translator, and author of twelve books. The collection covers the period from 1970, when Moffett was still a student at the University of Pennsylvania, to 2012, the year before Hoffman died. It includes letters and other correspondence addressed from Hoffman to Moffett, drafts and manuscripts of Hoffman's literary work, and a manuscript and posthumously published copy of a book of poems by Hoffman's wife, Elizabeth McFarland.
Cite as:
Daniel Hoffman letters to Judith Moffett, 1970-2012, Ms. Coll. 1026, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania
PDF Version:

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Biography/History

Daniel Hoffman (1923-2013) was an American poet and essayist. He received his B.A. (1947), M.A. (1949), and Ph.D. (1956) from Columbia University. He taught at Columbia as well as Swarthmore College prior to beginning his career at the University of Pennsylvania in 1966. From 1973 to 1974, he was named Poet Laureate of the United States. His poems vary greatly in structure, ranging from sonnets to an epic poem about the founding of Pennsylvania; but he is best known for his work, “Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe” (1972), which his New York Times obituary describes as "an unusual study melding biography, criticism and bits of his own autobiography in a highly personal analysis of the American writer whose literary reputation is wildly diffuse." Hoffman lived primarily in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania with his wife, poet and esteemed  Ladies' Home Journal editor, Elizabeth McFarland. Hoffman and McFarland spent their summers in Cape Rosier, Maine, which Hoffman used as a setting for many of his poems.

Judith Moffett (born 1942) is a poet, English professor, Swedish translator, and author of twelve books, including poetry volumes, formal translations of Swedish poetry, science-fiction novels, and a creative non-fiction volume. She also published a critical study of the poems of James Merrill, with whom she shared a long friendship. Moffett was born in Louisville, Kentucky and grew up in Cincinnati prior to moving to Philadelphia to earn her doctorate in American Civilization at the University of Pennsylvania. She completed her dissertation on the work of Stephen Benét under the direction of Daniel Hoffman and went on to work at several colleges and universities in the United States and Europe, including a fifteen-year career at the University of Pennsylvania. She now divides her time between Swarthmore, Pennsylvania and her farm in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.

Scope and Contents

This collection covers the period from 1970, when Moffett was still a student at the University of Pennsylvania, to 2012, the year before Hoffman died. It includes letters and other correspondence addressed from Hoffman to Moffett, drafts and manuscripts of Hoffman's literary work, and manuscripts and a posthumously published copy of a book of poems by Hoffman's wife, Elizabeth McFarland.

Series I. Correspondence is composed mainly of letters addressed to Judith Moffett from Daniel Hoffman between 1970 and 2012, some of which include drafts of unfinished poems or clippings from newspapers, online articles, and academic journals. There are also printed copies of three emails sent from Moffett to Hoffman in 2008 and 2009, the latter of which relates to Hoffman's manuscript, Lives of the Poets, which is located in Series II.

The earliest letters, written in the 1970s, focus largely on Moffett's literary work and search for a job in academia. Hoffman also mentions James Merrill as a topic of Moffett's research and writing, and Merrill continues to pop up throughout the rest of their correspondence, until his death in 1995. Starting around 1978, the year in which Moffett began her first teaching job at the University of Pennsylvania, Hoffman begins to discuss his own writing more in his letters, although he also devotes a considerable amount of space to figuring out the logistics of Moffett's move to Pennsylvania.

Correspondence throughout the 1980s and 1990s is more sparse, with some years including only short and sporadic communications, such as Christmas cards. One notable exception is a February 18, 1995 letter regarding the death of James Merrill and including a copy of Merrill's funeral program.

Between 2002 and 2012, Hoffman started to include a number of clippings in his letters, including Hoffman's translations of French poems by Stéphane Mallarmé and Gérard Nerval, an article by Hoffman entitled "Returns from the Grave: The Spirit of Poe in Contemporary Fictions," obituaries and a memorial service program for Elizabeth McFarland (Hoffman's wife), and printed online articles on a variety of topics. During this time, Hoffman sent Moffett drafts of his own poems with more frequency than in their previous communications.

Series II includes two sets of manuscripts. The first of these is Over the Summer Water, a book of poems by Elizabeth McFarland published posthumously by Hoffman. A published copy of  Over the Summer Water is also contained in the collection. The second, rather longer, set of manuscripts consists of drafts of Hoffman's unpublished 2009 book  Lives of the Poets with handwritten notes and corrections by Moffett.  Lives of the Poets seems to be largely autobiographical.

Administrative Information

Publication Information

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts,  2014 September 4

Finding Aid Author

Finding aid prepared by Molly B. Hutt

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Custodial History note

Sold by David J. Holmes Autographs, 2013.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Materials note

At Hanover College: The Judith Moffett Papers

At Western Michigan University: Judith Moffett Literary Correspondence Collection

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Controlled Access Headings

Form/Genre(s)
  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Correspondence
  • Drafts (documents)
  • Publications (document genre)
Personal Name(s)
  • McFarland, Elizabeth, 1922-2005
  • Merrill, James, 1926-1995
Subject(s)
  • Poetry
  • Poetry--Study and teaching
  • Poets
  • Poets, American--20th century

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Collection Inventory

Correspondence.

Box Folder

1970-1973.

1 1

1974.

1 2

1975.

1 3
1976.
Scope and Contents note

Includes one letter to Judith Moffett from Anthony Hecht.

1 4

1977.

1 5

1978.

1 6

1979.

1 7

1980.

1 8

1982-1984, 1989, 1992-1994.

1 9

1995-1996, 1999.

1 10

2002-2003.

1 11

2006-2008.

1 12

2009-2012.

1 13

undated.

1 14

Manuscripts.

Box Folder

Over the Summer Water: Poems by Elizabeth McFarland, preface by Daniel Hoffman, draft and published copies, 2008.

1 15

Lives of the Poets, by Daniel Hoffman, draft with comments by Judith Moffett, 2009.

2 1-3