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Thomas W. Wilcox (AC 1942) Papers

Identifier: MA.00308

Scope and Contents

The Thomas W. Wilcox (AC 1942) Papers consist of .25 linear feet of material. The material in this collection is primarily correspondence and poetry and most of the correspondents are related in some way to Amherst College. These include professors Theodore Baird and G. Armour Craig, and spouses of classmates, including Charlotte "Charlee" Wilbur. Several letters in the collection are to or from Wilcox family members.

About half of the correspondence and poetry is from Richard Wilbur, Wilcox's friend and possibly roommate from Amherst. Much of this dates to Wilbur's service during World War II. In these letters, Wilbur discusses both literature and the war. Wilcox and Wilbur remained friends over the years, with correspondence from Wilbur dating as late as 1988. Several letters include bits of poems that Wilbur was working on at the time.

Several of the Wilbur poems in the collection are unpublished, and there is also an unpublished one-page play or screenplay by Wilbur entitled "Storm over Optional," which features numerous characters from mythology and history, with minimal dailogue.

Much of the correspondence in this collection arrived at Amhest College in a fragmented condition, as only one or two pages of a multi-page letter. In some of these instances, the date of the letter and the recipient are unclear.

Also included in the collection are a folder of poems written by Wilcox and a folder of photographs of Wilbur family and friends. The photos show Richard Wilbur, his wife, children, and unidentified others in social situations and at home, and date from approximately the 1940s to 1970s.


  • Creation: 1942-1988
  • Creation: undated


Conditions Governing Access

There is no restriction on access to the Thomas W. Wilcox (AC 1942) Papers for research use. Particularly fragile items are restricted for preservation purposes.

Conditions Governing Use

Requests for permission to publish material from the Thomas W. Wilcox (AC 1942) Papers should be directed to the Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Biographical / Historical

Thomas W. Wilcox (1921-2008, AC 1942) was born in New York City, the son of Daniel and Katherine Wilcox. He attended Amherst College, where he was a friend of classmate Richard Wilbur (AC 1942). After graduation, Wilcox served during World War II in the United States Navy as a pilot. His flight simulation instructor was Darleen Butcher, whom he married two weeks after they met. After his discharge in 1945, he attended Harvard University, where he earned a Master's Degree in 1946. He taught as a professor of literature at several colleges and universities, including the University of Connecticut, where he supervised the freshman English program and taught as a professor of English from 1962 until his retirement in 1986. He had two children, Patricia and Daniel.

Richard Purdy Wilbur (AC 1942), a poet, translator and critic, was born in New York City in 1921. He married Mary Charlotte "Charlee" Ward shortly after his graduation from Amherst in 1942 and joined the Enlisted Reserve Corps shortly after that. Wilbur was called to active duty in 1943 and served in the Europe and North Africa before being discharged at the end of the war in 1945.

Wilbur has taught English at Harvard and Wesleyan Universities and Wellesley and Smith Colleges. He has been awarded a number of honors for his poetry, including the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize (twice), the Wallace Stevens Award, the Aiken Taylor Award for Modern American Poetry, the Frost Medal, the Gold Medal for Poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Bollingen Prize, the T. S. Eliot Award, a Ford Foundation Award, two Guggenheim Fellowships, the Edna St. Vincent Millay Memorial Award, the Oscar Blumenthal Prize for Poetry, the Harriet Monroe Poetry Award, the National Arts Club medal of honor for literature, two PEN translation awards, the Prix de Rome Fellowship, and the Shelley Memorial Award. He was elected a chevalier of the Ordre des Palmes Académiques and is a Chancellor Emeritus of The Academy of American Poets.

In addition to poetry, he has also published numerous translations of plays by Molière and Racine, contributed the lyrics for Leonard Bernstein's musical Candide, written several books for children, and produced two collections of critical writing. In 1987-1988 Richard Wilbur served as Poet Laureate of the United States; the following year he was the Robert Frost Library Fellow at Amherst College, where he has spoken and read his work on numerous occasions. Together, he and Charlee have children Ellen, Christopher, and Aaron.


0.25 Linear feet

Language of Materials



Correspondence, poetry, and other materials owned by Thomas Wilcox (AC 1942). Much of the correspondence is from Richard Wilbur (AC 1942) and his wife Charlotte "Charlee" Wilbur, and most of the letters date from the World War II era. Also included are poems by Richard Wilbur and photos of the Wilbur family. Other correspondence in the collection is from Wilcox family members and Amherst College notables including Armour Craig and Theodore Baird.


These materials are arranged in alphabetical order by sender/author, and in chronological order within that. Photographs are located at the end of the collection.

Custodial History

These papers were originally owned by Thomas W. Wilcox and were passed to his daughter Patricia after his death. Amherst College purchased the collection from Patricia Wilcox in 2010, and they were delivered to the college by a third party. The papers were not foldered at that time, so original order was impossible to discern.


Claire Lobdell, Merrill Project Archivist
December 2013
Language of description
Script of description
This work was funded by a grant from the Hellen Ingram Plummer Charitable Foundation, Inc.

Repository Details

Part of the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections Repository

Amherst College Archives & Special Collections
Robert Frost Library
61 Quadrangle Drive
Amherst MA 01002-5000
(413) 542-2299