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Miriam Gurko-Floyd Dell Papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Gurko-Dell

Scope and Content of the Collection

Most of the collection consists of letters from Floyd Dell to writer Miriam Gurko concerning Edna St. Vincent Millay, and copies of letters containing Gurko's responses. The correspondence, which concerns the Dell years with Millay, began in 1960 and continued until 1968. Gurko's never-published draft manuscript containing Dell's letters about Edna St. Vincent Millay is also included in the collection.

Collection also contains some notes of Gurko's and several short works of Dell's, including a manuscript typescript of "Not Roses, Roses All the Way: Some Recollections of Edna Millay," 1963. Also, two letters Dell wrote to Allen Churchill in 1958 that Churchill gave to Gurko with an undated covering letter.


  • Creation: 1958-1968



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Miriam Gurko-Floyd Dell Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 5 folders at a time maximum (Priority II).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Miriam Gurko-Floyd Dell Papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biographies of Miriam Gurko and Floyd Dell

And independent researcher and scholar, Miriam Gurko wrote biographies and histories, primarily for a juvenile audience. Among her works are: The Lives and Times of Peter Cooper (1959), Restless Spirit: A Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay (1962), Clarence Darrow (1965), Indian America: the Black Hawk War (1970), The Ladies of Seneca Falls: The Birth of the Woman's Rights Movement (1974). During her research for the biography of Edna St. Vincent Millay, Gurko met and became friends with Dell, with whom she corresponded until 1968. In the years after Dell's death in 1969, Gurko transcribed many of his letters to her in preparation for publishing them under the title Letters of Floyd Dell About Edna St. Vincent Millay. Gurko died in 1988.

Floyd Dell, American poet, novelist, playwright, newspaperman and literary editor, was born in Iowa in 1887. Dell found success in Chicago as the editor of and chief contributor to the well-known Friday Literary Review, before moving to New York where he settled into the Bohemian literary and artistic world of Greenwich Village. It was here he developed a close relationship with the young poet, Edna St. Vincent Millay.

In 1914 Dell, an avowed Socialist, became editor of Masses and later the Liberator and the New Masses. In 1919, he published his first novel, Moon-Calf, and then continued to write fiction and poetry, plus a critical work on Upton Sinclair and a number of books and articles based on themes of love, sex, marriage, psychoanalysis, education and other topics which interested him.

By 1935 his work had ceased selling, and Dell accepted a job with the WPA as editor and ghostwriter. In his later years, this "romantic rebel" maintained a copious correspondence until his death in 1969.


2 Linear Feet (5 boxes)


Correspondence between Floyd Dell and Miriam Gurko, concerning Edna St. Vincent Millay. Also, several short works by Dell, a few notes by Gurko and a draft of a book by Gurko entitled The Letters of Floyd Dell About Edna St. Vincent Millay, with a subject index file.


The papers are organized by type of material: incoming correspondence, outgoing correspondence, notes, and works.

Collection Stack Location

1 20 6-7


Gift of Leo Gurko, 1989.

Processed by

Joan Schroeter, 1994; Virginia H. Smith, 2000


This inventory was created with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this inventory do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Inventory of the Miriam Gurko - Floyd Dell Papers, 1958-1968
Virginia H. Smith
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States