Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Maureen Howard papers, 1962-2002

Summary Information


Maureen Howard is an American writer, scholar, and literary critic. She is best known for her second novel, Bridgeport Bus (1962) and her award-winning autobiography, Facts of Life (1982). The collection includes drafts, correspondence, and publication material for nine novels published between 1962 and 2001, as well as correspondence, essays, teaching notes, and personal material written during this time period.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#1452
Bib ID 5420020 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Howard, Maureen, 1930-
Title Maureen Howard papers, 1962-2002
Physical Description 4.17 linear feet (10 oversized document boxes)
Language(s) English .

Collection has no restrictions.

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.



This collection is arranged in 5 series.



The bulk of the collection consists of material for eight novels written between 1962 and 2002, as well as her autobiography and a short play ("Songs at Twilight") published in 1977. Included are publisher's correspondence, drafts, edited manuscripts, and research notes, as well as illustration and art material for some of the later novels. The majority of the revisions are Howard's own; her correspondence with her publisher appears to be limited to minor edits and proofreading. A note on the drafts: The revisions included in this collection are often fragmented. Howard apparently reused her own papers, and frequently included handwritten material interspersed with typewritten copies or new drafts written on the back of (apparently abandoned) older versions. Where there is no other apparent order, the material has been left in the order in which it arrived. The collection also includes an extensive selection of Howard's journalism and critical writing, personal correspondence, and research on Howard's activism and political work. Overall, the material is in excellent condition, with the exception of newspaper clippings and magazine articles, many of which are acidic and have been either separated or photocopied to preserve their integrity.

  • Series I: Correspondence, 1965-2002

    This series consists of correspondence from the mid-1960s through the 1990s, including a range of personal material, postcards, and correspondence from Howard's work as a literature teacher, as well as correspondence with novelists and publishers. Of particular interest is correspondence with Joanna Scott, William Pritchard, Anne McLaughlin, Richard Powers, and Matthew Stadler, which provides a rich view of Howard's literary contacts during this period. This series is arranged alphabetically.

  • Series II: Novels, 1962-2002

    This series includes correspondence, drafts, research notes, and publication material for each of Howard's eight major novels produced during this period, as well as her autobiography and her 1977 play "Songs at Twilight." The bulk of this series consists of draft material for Howard's three most recent works, Natural History (1992), A Lover's Almanac (1998), and the collection Big as Life (2001), excluding her most recent novel The Silver Screen (published in 2004). Unless otherwise noted, this material is arranged in alphabetical order.

  • Series III: Journalism, 1983-2001

    Reviews, essays, and draft material for Howard's uncollected criticism, including Howard's foreword for the 1990 reissue of Mrs. Dalloway and introductory material for Howard's 1977 collection Seven American Women Writers of the Twentieth Century. Of particular note are 14 handwritten notebooks including research for essays, interviews, and lecture material. The materials are arranged alphabetically.

  • Series IV: Personal Material, 1964-2001

    This series contains correspondence, notes, and teaching material from Howard's time as a visitng professor at Columbia and Yale, as well as notes on various political causes that she supported during this period. Of particular interest are a set of handwritten journal entries, dated 1964, that provide insight to the beginning of her novelistic career. The materials are arranged alphabetically.

  • Series V: Printed Material

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

Collection has no restrictions.

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Curator of Manuscripts, Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML). The RBML approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; the responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Maureen Howard Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Papers sent off-site PL 9/13/2005.

Papers processed Katie Gradowski, GSAS 2012 2009.

Finding aid written Katie Gradowski, GSAS 2012 06/--/2009.

Revision Description

2011-09-03 xml document instance created by Carrie Hintz

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
American fiction -- Women authors Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Cavell, Stanley, 1926-2018 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Howard, Maureen Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
McLaughlin, Anne Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Novelists, American -- 20th century -- Biography Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Scott, Joanna Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note

Maureen Howard, born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, was the daughter of William Kearns, an Irish immigrant and county detective for Fairfield County. Howard's early novels (Bridgeport Bus, and Before My Time) draw extensively on the influence of her own Irish-Catholic upbringing, with Bridgeport featuring prominently in subsequent works.

Howard is best known for her novels Bridgeport Bus, Natural History, and A Lover's Almanac, as well as her critical introductions to Virginia Woolf and Edith Wharton. Her writing often describe individuals who are "out of place" often focusing on female characters divided between the obligations of home, career, and private life. Her work is frequently compared to Virginia Woolf and Henry James, both of whom she cites as influences. Howard was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1967; her 1978 memoir Facts of Life won the National Book Critics Circle award.

As a self-identified "gypsy teacher," Maureen Howard has held positions at Columbia, Yale, the New School for Social Research, Brooklyn College, and the University of California, Santa Barbara. In addition to her novels, Howard wrote an op-ed column "Her" in the New York Times (1979), as well as critical introductions for Virginia Woolf, Edith Wharton, and several collections of essays and women's fiction. She currently lives in New York City and teaches writing at Columbia University.

This collection focuses primarily on her novels, beginning with the 1962 Bridgeport Bus and ending with her 2001 collection Big as Life; it also includes a broad representation of journalism, essays, and teaching materials through this period.