For Katherine Anne Porter, the perfect writing environment was “A study room where nobody but the FBI could catch me.” Porter loved to socialize, but to be a productive writer, she had to put everything second behind her work. Porter sought out quiet, solitary places where she would have no demands on her time. No interruptions for cooking, reading thru the mail, or social outings. During her time lecturing at the University of Michigan in the 1950s, she became what she called a “Sunday writer,” where she would spend the weekend hiding in the empty library as it was the only time and place where she wouldn’t be interrupted.
Porter’ writing habits made her into somewhat of a hermit. sparking rumors in social circles of what she was really up to besides writing. Whispers circulated that she had become a drunk, taken a new lover, broken up with an old one, or was in the middle of a complete breakdown. Porter addressed the rumors in her correspondence, writing, “In each and every single, solitary case, I have disappeared sure enough, and have reappeared after a certain time with a new, completed work… and yet nothing convinces some people!”
You can explore digitized letters by Katherine Anne Porter’s online in the online exhibit Katherine Anne Porter: Correspondence from the Archives, 1912-1977.
Browse the finding aid to the Katherine Anne Porter papers to learn more about Porter’s hobbies and manuscripts!
Mattie Lewis is a student in the Masters of Library and Information Sciences program and Graduate Assistant with the Katherine Anne Porter Collection at UMD.