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Henry Blake Fuller papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Fuller

Scope and Content of the Collection

The collection consists of the outgoing correspondence of Henry Blake Fuller, incoming letters addressed to him from family, friends and literary associates, and Fuller's published and unpublished work, European travel notes and mementos, drawings, photographs, post cards, theater programs, music and other miscellaneous items. The collection documents Fuller's literary and artistic activities and interests both in Chicago and the East, and the many friendships he developed during his lifetime. There is also material collected by his nieces Helen and Louise Ranney related to Fuller's literary output, and two artifacts: Fuller's portable typewriter, given to him by Hobart C. Chatfield-Taylor (date unknown), and a posthumous award from the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame, 2000.

An appendix to the collection (under "Related Material") contains photocopies of his letters, primarily to Hamlin Garland, from the University of Southern California Library. An additional section under Related Material list printed maps owned by Fuller that have been separated from the collection and cataloged individually.


  • Creation: 1868-2000
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1874 - 1929



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Henry Blake Fuller papers are open for research; they are available five folders at a time in the Special Collections Reading Room (Priority II).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Henry Blake Fuller papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Literary rights, including 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.

Biography of Henry Blake Fuller

American novelist, essayist, critic and satirist.

Henry Blake Fuller was born and grew up in Chicago, and although he found much to criticize in his native city which led him to travel widely and even attempt to relocate in Boston, he never left the Midwest and died there in 1929.

As a novelist, Fuller's writing encompassed two different genres: realistic depictions of the Midwest and fanciful travel romances with European settings. After his first literary success, The Chevallier of Pensieri-Vani, in 1890 and the subsequent but less popular The Chatelaine of La Trinite in 1892, Fuller turned to domestic subject matter with The Cliff-Dwellers in 1893. This latter work, the first of his Chicago novels, was a devastating attack on the city, prompted by his disgust at the commercialism that he felt destroyed the original idealistic goals of the World's Columbian Exposition. The realistic style of The Cliff-Dwellers and his following novel With the Procession, was admired by William Dean Howells and Hamlin Garland, but to Fuller's dismay was a disappointment to his champion in the Eastern establishment, Charles Eliot Norton.

By the end of the 1890's, Fuller had won himself a place in Chicago's art colony. An amateur musician and always interested in architecture, art and music, he joined the Little Room, an elite group of artists and writers such as Harriet Monroe, Eugene Field, Hamlin Garland, Louis Sullivan and Lorado Taft. Referred to as "Henry B." he became the club's most active and admired member, supporting himself by writing book reviews, sketches and editorials in which he began to present Chicago in a more favorable light.

Repulsed by the Spanish-American War, Fuller joined the anti-imperialist movement and in 1900 he privately printed a volume of savagely satiric verses directed at President McKinley entitled The New Flag. He followed this with a series of speeches and articles which criticized what he perceived as the philistine commercialism and imperialistic attitudes of American society. However, during the next decade he also continued to write book reviews, short stories, essays and Letters to the Editor pieces for various newspapers including the Chicago Evening Post, the Chicago Record-Herald and the New York Times. Some of the periodicals in which his pieces appeared included Bookman, Commonweal, Nation and the Saturday Evening Post. When Harriet Monroe's publication, Poetry: A Magazine of Verse was started in 1912, Fuller assisted her in reviewing, proof-reading and dummy-pasting, which he continued to do until his death.

In 1919, Fuller wrote Bertram Cope's Year, a novel with a homosexual theme. It was not a success and Fuller abandoned the novel form until 1929, when he returned to the travel romance with Gardens of This World. His last effort, published posthumously in 1930, was a result of his interest in Hollywood and the cinema entitled Not on the Screen. During his last decade Fuller produced indifferent sketches and stories but as a reviewer and independent critic he was able to promote such writers as Louis Bromfield, James Branch Cabell, Sinclair Lewis, Vachel Lindsay, Glenway Wescott and Thornton Wilder.


11.5 Linear Feet (19 boxes, 3 oversize boxes, and 2 oversize folders)


Correspondence, works and miscellaneous material relating to Henry Blake Fuller, Chicago novelist, essayist, critic, and satirist. The bulk of the collection consists of Fuller's writings, both published and manuscript, and incoming correspondence.


Papers are organized in the following series:

Series 1: Biographical, 1868-1975
Boxes 1-2
Series 2: Outgoing Correspondence, 1875-1929
Box 3
Series 3: Incoming Correspondence, 1874-1930
Boxes 3-6
Series 4: Works, 1869-1933, bulk 1874-1929
Boxes 7-15
Series 5: Subject Files, 1879-1976, bulk 1879-1929
Boxes 16-17
Series 6: Ranney Family Materials, 1929-1947
Box 18
Series 7: Photographs, 1860-1924
Box 18
Series 8: Artifacts
2 items
Appendix: Photostats
Boxes 22-23

Collection Stack Location

1 19 4


Purchased from Helen Ranney, 1944. Additional gifts from Helen Ranney, 1971-1976.

Related Archival Materials

Box 19: Photocopies of Fuller material, primarily letters to Hamlin Garland, from The University of Southern California Library

Separated Materials

The following maps were separated from the folders in the Subject Files Series, folders entitled, "Travel - mementos from European travels, ca. 1879-1897." They have been cataloged individually and are available in the Newberry Library's online catalog.

  • Arles. Hachette & Cie., Paris. Guides Joanne L. Thuillier, Delt Imp. Hèlio. Lemercier, 57, rue de Seine, Paris.
  • Plan of Edinburgh. Eng d. for "Benjie's" Guide to Edin. By Johnston & Co.
  • Canterbury. [n.d.]
  • Plan of the city of Salisbury. Reduced by permission from Block Plan of Local Board of Health. Published by Brown & Company, Salisbury, Day & Son, Limited, Lith.
  • Hôtel de France. Claivier Prop E., Lith. H. Christophe, Rue d'Amerval, 10, Nancy.
  • Tanner's map of the City of Manchester. T. Michlam, Surveyor. J. Seargent, Eng r. Winchester.
  • Plan D'Avignon, d'après les documents officiels. Grave par R. Hausermann. A. Fayary. Editeur, 78 Boul. St. Michel, Paris. Collection unique: 160 plans de villes francaises et ètrangeres.
  • Palermo. Geograph. Anstalt von Wagner & Debes, Leipzig.
  • Tunis, 1896.
  • Pianta Topografica della Citta di Roma. F. E G. Pineider, Editori. Piazza della Signoria e Via tornabuoni, 20, Firenze, Stab P. Smorti e C'Firenze.
  • Pictorial Plan of Chester. Published by Catherall & Prichard, Chester, Drawn and Engraved by W. Willis.
  • South Devon and Dartmoor. Printed and Published by Hen…ry Office, South Street, Exeter.
  • Map of Lincoln Park District Showing Present Park Area Proposed Extensions and Work Under Construction, 1908.
  • Map of Six Counties around Chicago Showing Railroads, Junction Points. Station Post Offices and Villages; also Carriage Roads. Rufus Blanchard.
  • Black's Plan of London. Drawn and Engraved by J. Bartholomew; W.H. McFarlane Litho gr. Edinburgh.

Processed by

Amy Nyholm, 1949; Diana Haskell, 1977; Virginia H. Smith, 2000; and the NEH Grant Team, 2005.


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 Henry Blake Fuller papers, 1868-2000, bulk 1874-1929
Virginia H. Smith
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2011-08-18: Revisions, additions, and updates were made.

Repository Details

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

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States