Special Collections Spotlight: Djuna Barnes papers

Djuna Barnes (1892-1982) was a noted journalist and avant-garde American writer and artist. Her papers consist of family and personal papers, correspondence, publications, manuscript drafts, newspaper clippings, serials, photographs, and original artwork documenting Barnes’s career. Significant correspondents in the collection include T. S. Eliot, Emily Coleman, Marianne Moore, Peggy Guggenheim, Dag Hammarskjöld, Kay Boyle, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Robert McAlmon, Laurence Vail, Allan Ross Macdougall, Allen Tate, E. E. Cummings, William Carlos Williams, and Eugene O’Neill. Some of the books from her personal library are among the holdings of the Rare Books collection.

In 1913, Djuna Barnes began working as a freelance journalist and illustrator for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and was soon writing and illustrating features and interviews for many other publications. During this period, she became involved in the bohemian artistic milieu of Greenwich Village and wrote poetry. In 1921, she traveled to Europe and spent most of the next twenty years in England and France. She wrote features and interviews for Vanity Fair, McCall’s, Charm, and Smart Set, a regular column for Theatre Guild Magazine, and poems and stories for literary magazines such as Dial, Transition, and Transatlantic Review. In this period she wrote A Night Among the Horses (1929), Ladies Almanack (1928), Ryder (1928) and Nightwood (1936). In October 1939, Barnes returned to the United States, where she resided for the remainder of her life. She wrote the verse play The Antiphon (1958), and a collection of her short stories, Spillway (1962). During the 1960s and 1970s, Barnes also wrote much poetry, though little was published. Her final work was the verse menagerie Creatures In an Alphabet (1982).

Explore the Djuna Barnes papers finding aid.

To view any items in the collection visit the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library or if you have any questions, please contact us

What is a finding aid?

A finding aid is a description of the contents of a collection, similar to a table of contents you would find in a book. A collection’s contents are often grouped logically and describe the group of items within each folder. You rarely find descriptions of the individual items within collections. Finding aids also contain information about the size and scope of collections. Additional contextual information may also be included.