Skip to main content

Caroline Gordon papers

 Collection — Box: MS-108 001
Identifier: MS-108

Scope and Contents

This collection is made up of books, newspaper clippings, magazines, journal articles, and short stories by and about Caroline Gordon. The newspaper clippings offer critiques of Gordon's Civil War novel entitled "None Shall Look Back", as well as an interview with Gordon in which she comments on many of her works and the reviews they received. Also included in the collection is a copy of the magazine entitled Critique: Studies in Modern Fiction (winter 1956), in which many of Gordon's works are critiqued by various writers. There are three issues of the magazine entitled Scribner's, in which can be found many of Gordon's short stories. The dates of Scribner's range from December 1933 to March 1935.


  • Creation: 1933-1956


Language of Materials

This collection contains materials in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright status of this collection has not been evaluated.

Biographical / Historical

Twentieth-century novelist Caroline Gordon was born into the Kentucky line of the extensive Meriwether family in 1895. Exploration of the family's past and its evolution is a major theme of her fiction. She grew up at Merry Mont in Todd County, near Clarksville. Her father, James Morris Gordon, came from Virginia to tutor the Meriwether children, married Nancy Meriwether, and established an academy in Clarksville, where his daughter received her early education. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bethany College in 1916. Her father is the idealized subject of Gordon's second novel, Alec Maury, Sportsman (1934), and the central character in her much-anthologized story, "Old Red." Gordon taught briefly; then, as a journalist, she became one of the first reviewers to comment favorably on a new Nashville-based magazine of poetry, The Fugitive. During the summer of 1924, Robert Penn Warren, a Todd County neighbor, introduced her to Allen Tate. Within a year they were married and living in New York City, where she gave birth to their daughter, Nancy Meriwether. With Tate, she began a period of life abroad, devoted to writing and sustained by various fellowships granted to one or the other. In London Gordon was secretary to the influential British writer Ford Madox Ford, who provided the couple with quarters in Paris and introduced them to the American expatriates. In 1930 the Tates returned to the United States and settled in Clarksville in a house provided by Tate's brother Ben and called "Benfolly." Both Tates were exceptionally hospitable to friends and encouraging to younger writers. Both were prolific correspondents, generous with constructive criticism. (Gordon eventually became mentor to several writers, most notably Flannery O'Connor). Although she had to wrest time for her writing from domestic and social obligations, the eight Benfolly years were especially productive for Gordon, who published four novels and several stories before 1937. The first novel was Penhally (1931), followed by Alec Maury, Sportsman (1934), None Shall Look Back (1937), and The Garden of Adonis (1937), studies of the southern family during the Civil War and Great Depression. Academic appointments of the 1940s took the Tates throughout the Southeast and to Princeton, where they established a home near their daughter, who married psychiatrist Percy Wood in 1944. During this time Gordon published her fifth novel, Green Centuries (1941). Her second related group of novels, The Woman on the Porch (1944), which deals with a troubled marriage, The Strange Children (1951), based on life at Benfolly, and The Malefactors (1956), is informed by her conversion to Roman Catholicism. Her own marriage suffered during this period. The Tates were divorced briefly in 1946, then remarried. Together they wrote The House of Fiction (1950), which was followed by Gordon's How to Read a Novel in 1957. The marriage was permanently dissolved in 1959. Gordon maintained her home at Princeton until 1973, teaching and writing; works of this time include The Glory of Hera (1972). An appointment in the creative writing program drew her to the University of Dallas. When her health began to fail in 1978, she moved to San Cristobal de las Casas in Chapas, Mexico, with the Wood family. She died there on April 11, 1981.


0.21 Linear Feet (1 Box)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was purchased by The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga from Bill Kirchner, a bookseller, on 2007 June 2.

Processing Information

The processing of this information is complete.

Caroline Gordon papers
Under Revision
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Collection Area Details

Part of the Manuscripts Collection Area

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Library
c/o Special Collections
600 Douglas Street
Chattanooga Tennessee 37403 United States