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Robert Payne Collection

Collection Number
SC 293

OCLC Number

Robert Payne, 1911-1983

Bequest and gift of Robert and Sheila Payne, 1983 and 1986.

Extent, Scope, and Content Note
Papers, [ca.1900]-1983.
153 linear ft.
Organization: series.
Papers of Robert Payne (Pierre Stephen Robert Payne); author, biographer, poet, translator.
Literary manuscripts, correspondence, diaries, and related materials. Includes extensive correspondence with, and biographical materials relating to Payne's parents, Stephen and Mireille (Dorey) Payne.

The Robert Payne Collection includes manuscripts, galleys, correspondence, documents, printed materials, memorabilia, music, drawings, still pictures, and moving picture film of Robert Payne. The collection spans the years 1900 to 1983, including the manuscript of the posthumously published The Dream and the Tomb: A History of the Crusades

The largest segment of the collection consists of published and unpublished manuscripts, including proposals for books, plays, poetry, anthologies, and films, which documents an extraordinary literary productivity in both literature, biography, and translation.

The second largest segment of the collection consists of correspondence arranged in several series: literary and business correspondence by book or manuscript title, by publisher, and by name of the correspondent, and family correspondence. There are many, frequent letters that Payne exchanged with both of his parents over a long period of time. These document both his activities and his literary endeavors. The correspondence with his brother, Alan Payne, includes extensive discussions regarding Death is a Funny Thing: A Memoir, a eulogy to their parents.

Payne's many correspondents include: Djuna Barnes, Paul Bowles, George F. Butterick, Ann Fremantle, Indira Gandhi, Allen Ginsberg, Younghill Kang, André and Clara Malraux, Prince Michael of Greece, King Hussein, Charles Olson, Carlo Pedretti, Arthur Upham Pope, Sir Herbert Read, Muriel Rukeyser, Madame Sun Yat Sen, Tambimuttu, and Ruthven Todd.

A third segment of the collection consists of correspondence and materials relating to Payne's involvement with the international organization of writers, editors, and publishers, P.E.N., and Columbia University's Translation Center, and Payne's efforts as an organizer of the 1970 Translation Conference and as editor of its proceedings.

Family papers include diaries kept by Payne's father, Stephen, a naval construction engineer.

Arrangement and Processing Note
Finding aid updated and revised by Kristen J. Nyitray in April 2020.


Restrictions on Access
The collection is open to researchers without restriction.

Rights and Permissions 

Literary rights are retained by Mrs. Sheila L. Payne.
Stony Brook University Libraries' consent to access as the physical owner of the collection does not address copyright issues that may affect publication rights. It is the sole responsibility of the user of Special Collections and University Archives materials to investigate the copyright status of any given work and to seek and obtain permission where needed prior to publication.  

[Item], [Box], Special Collections and University Archives, Stony Brook University Libraries.

Payne, Robert, 1911-1983 -- Archives.
Payne, Mireille (Dorey), -- d.1972.
Payne, Stephen, -- 1886-1972.
PEN America.
Columbia University. -- Translation Center.
American literature -- 20th century.
Authors, American -- 20th century.
American literature.
Authors, American.