Correspondence of Gordon Wasson

Scope and Content

The correspondence in this series begins with a discussion of the murder of Claudius by mushroom poisoning, and Wasson continues to correspond with Graves about his research into ethnolinguistics and ritual use of hallucinogens as they pertain to fungi around the world. Particular areas of interest are Central America and Mexico, Papua New Guinea, and the Vedic rituals of the Indian subcontinent. Idries Shah's information about Sufic rituals are also discussed; and Wasson forwards copies of some of his other correspondence, including from Mary Barnard about the use of mushrooms in Greek antiquity. The correspondence also includes Wasson's accounts of witnessing hallucinogenic mushrooms being used by a traditional healer in Mexico (19 July 1960) and his experience of ingesting synthetic psilocybin with Robert and Beryl Graves in New York (8 May 1960). Occasional references are made to Wasson's work as a banker for J.P. Morgan & Co. The series also includes: one letter to Graves from Wasson's wife and collaborator, Valentina Wasson; two copy letters from Graves to Wasson; a bundle of press cuttings, including articles by Graves and the Wassons, and other ephemera; a photograph of the Wassons with two copies; and a photograph of a Greek vase.


Material is arranged in approximate chronological order by correspondent.


Canelluñ Collection number: CC0458

This refers to the arrangement of the papers in Robert Graves’ study before they were transferred to the College.

Custodial History

This series of correspondence was bundled together with a series of correspondence, arranged alphabetically by correspondent, on the subject of mushrooms. As it formed no part of Wasson's correspondence, this second series has been catalogued separately at RG/K/Mushrooms.

Corporate Names