James Atlas

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 133 CPA/2/1/4
  • Former Reference
      GB 133 Sequence 1, Box 2
  • Dates of Creation
      22 Jun 1972-3 Jan 1975 & n.d.
  • Physical Description
      135 pieces; 206 sheets

Scope and Content

Correspondence with and relating to American critic, novelist and poet, James Atlas, who also assisted Carcanet in its early years as worker and shareholder. The correspondence contains extensive references to the two books Atlas edited for Carcanet during the 1970s, in the form of comments on plans, research, permissions (including responses from other publishers and agents) and publication. These are as follows: Attila József, Selected poems and texts, translated from the Hungarian by John Bátki, and edited by Atlas and George Gömöri (1973) (see /7-8, /13, /22-23, /25-27, /33, /45, /47, /49, /52, /59, /68, /72-73 and /120); and the anthology, Ten American poets (1973) (see /15-16, /28-33, /38-41, /43-44, /46, /51, /59, /67 and /124). The file also includes letters from two of the poets represented in this anthology: Jane Shore (/109) and James Martin (/112).

Other topics covered in the correspondence include: progress reports on Atlas's work, including his research on Delmore Schwartz for a biography ultimately published in 1977, as well as numerous articles, pieces submitted to Poetry Nation, and a novel; the management and finances of Carcanet Press, including the move to Cheadle Hulme in 1972; Atlas's proposals for future Carcanet publications, including a projected volume of work by Jacques Lacan (see /5-/6, /19, /69, /74-75 and /113 ); Atlas's role as 'American editor' of Poetry Nation, and plans for future distribution of Carcanet books in America (/77, /79, /81-83, /85 and /129); Atlas's response to Schmidt's comments on his poetry, and his thoughts on poetry and other work by Schmidt; the work of other contemporary poets; mutual acquaintances and literary friends. In /133 Atlas encloses a cutting of the poem 'Exotica' by Frederick Morgan for submission to Poetry Nation.

The file also includes a number of letters from Marjorie David, Atlas's partner during the early 1970s (see /12, /20, /36-37, /42, /54, /57-58, /60-63 and /65-66). A number of these letters relate to the volume David edited for Carcanet in 1973: Laurence Sterne, The sermons of Mr Yorick. In addition, /48 and /116 are from Peggy [?Rizza]; /55 is a manuscript note sent in America to an unidentified recipient and signed from Your Loving Father .

/1 also includes typescript poems by Atlas as follows: 'Isaac Rosenfeld Thinks About his Life', 'Words for Walter Benjamin', 'The Diary of Gustav Janouch', 'The Death of Attila József', and 'Cardinal Newman Remembers an Excursion'.

Dated at: Cambridge, Watertown and Concord, Massachusetts, USA; North Bennington, Vermont, USA; and Oxford, England.

Largely typescript with autograph.


None of the letters from Atlas include information on the year of writing, so chronology is difficult to establish. There are also a number of incomplete sections of letters; these can be found at: /64, /128, /131 and /134.

Access Information

Pieces /12, /65-66, /70, /72, /76, /79, /81-82, /87, /104, /120, /126 and /129 are closed to readers.