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George Dillon Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: ASD
Date: 1977

Biographical History

George Dillon (1906-1968) was an American poet and editor.

Born in Jacksonville, Florida, Dillon's parents moved around frequently when he was a child and he lived in Kentucky, Ohio, and Missouri, before moving to Chicago after high school. As a student at the University of Chicago, Dillon began to write and edit poetry.

Dillon's first poetry collection, Boy in the Wind, appeared when he was barely twenty-one, yet the critic for the Dial stated: "There is no timidity of evasion, no suggestion of frailty or wavering. His lines have always the assurance of authority, the finality of complete mastery." Louis Untermeyer, in the Saturday Review of Literature, wrote: "His pages...tempt one to cast aside criticism for scarcely reserved enthusiasm." Untermeyer decided that Dillon had not fulfilled his earlier promise, however he was omitted from subsequent editions.

Of his second volume, The Flowering Stone - which won the Pulitzer Prize - Babette Deutsch, the critic for the New York Herald Tribune Books, wrote that though Dillon had been attentive to the lessons of more established poets, "no poet save himself can have brought him to the source of his poetry, or unsealed that bright fountain to our refreshment and joy. Only a searching mind and an alert, sensitive body could have combined to produce poetry of this calibre." Dillon translated poems by Ronsard, Aragon, Eluard, and Michaux, all of which were published in Poetry. Indeed, he is now chiefly remembered for these, since he failed to develop the promise shown in his first volumes. Now chiefly remembered for his Baudelaire and Racine translations, Dillon failed to add to his reputation after his second volume of poetry. [From World Authors 1900-1950 (1996)]

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The George Dillon Papers comprise Correspondence-subject files, Writings and Memorabilia. Spanning the years 1862 to 1982, the collection illuminates both the family relationships and the creative work of the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet (The Flowering Stone, 1931) and translator of the works of such luminaries of French belles-lettres as Baudelaire, Giraudoux, Racine and Ronsard.

Among the Correspondence-subject files are both personal and business letters, the latter chiefly in connection with Dillon's tenure with Poetry, first as associate editor (1925-27) during his undergraduate years at the University of Chicago, and later as successor to its founder and editor, Harriet Monroe. The correspondence which is of greatest depth and duration includes letters from Amy Bonner, Eugen Boissevain, Inez Boulton, Jeanne Daladier, Alix Du Poy Daniel, Carl Hillerns, Ben Huebsch, Nicholas Joost, Marcia Lee Masters (Schmid), Arthur Meeker, Lila Michaelides, Edna St. Vincent Millay, John Nerber, Henry Rago, Karl Shapiro, Florence Dickinson Stearns, Marion Strobel, Geraldine Udell and Jean Starr Untermeyer. Also in the collection is an extensive assortment of family correspondence including letters of Adah Hill and William S. Dillon (parents) to George, other family members, and friends. Among the other family correspondents are Alice Sinclair Hill and Alice Baur Hodges, and various members of the Dillon and Hill families.

The Writings (Boxes 12-14) encompass articles, books, and poetry in printed and/or manuscript form. Book manuscripts include typescript drafts and revisions of Dillon's translations of Baudelaire (Flowers of Evil) and Racine (Three Plays of Racine), together with two unpublished translations: Giraudoux's Le Guerre de Trois n'aura pas Lieu ("No War in Troy") and Ronsard's sonnets and lyrics, "Four Seasons of Love." Also among Dillon's poetry translations is the work of Jean Cocteau, Jacques Prévert, and Jules Supervielle.

Boxes 15-16 of the Memorabilia have been categorized as either family material or George Dillon's personal mementos. Among the family memorabilia is genealogical material relating to the Dillon, Hill, and Sinclair families as well as financial, legal and miscellaneous documents and clippings. George Dillon's personal memorabilia has been arranged chronologically, from childhood through his academic career, his military assignment, and his activities from 1945 until his death in 1968. Also categorized under personal memorabilia is financial, legal and printed material, the latter including a number of theater programs and musical scores. Boxes 17-19 are comprised of photographs and scrapbooks relating to George Dillon and other family members. Eleven oversized packages contain diaries of Alice Sinclair Hill, drawings by George Dillon as well as scrapbooks of clippings and theatrical memorabilia.

Arrangement of the Collection

Alphabetical by type or topic.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Arthur, Helen S.
Ballou, Robert O. (Robert Oleson), 1892-1977.
Baudelaire, Charles, 1821-1867. -- Fleurs du mal -- Translations.
Bishop, Morris, 1893-1973.
Boissevain, Eugen, -1949.
Bonner, Amy.
Boulton, Inez.
Bowe, Augustine Joseph, 1892-1966.
Burden, Jean.
Bynner, Witter, 1881-1968.
Campbell, Gladys.
Carpenter, Margaret Haley.
Carruth, Hayden, 1921-2008.
Ciardi, John, 1916-1986.
Cocteau, Jean, 1889-1963.
Cowley, Malcolm, 1898-1989.
Daly, James Joseph, 1901-
De Vries, Peter, 1910-1993.
Dillon, George, 1906-1968.
Giraudoux, Jean, 1882-1944. -- Guerre de Troie n'aura pas lieu -- Translations.
Huebsch, B. W. (Benjamin W.), 1876-1964.
Joost, Nicholas.
Kenner, Hugh.
Laughlin, James, 1914-1997.
Lindsay, Vachel, 1879-1931.
Loeser, Katinka.
MacDonald, Jessica North, 1894-
MacLeish, Archibald, 1892-1982.
Masters, Marcia Lee.
Meacham, Harry M. (Harry Monroe), 1901-1975.
Meeker, Arthur, 1902-1971.
Mellon, Paul.
Meredith, William, 1919-2007.
Millay, Edna St. Vincent, 1892-1950.
Mitchell, Bonner.
Monnier, Adrienne.
Monroe, Harriet, 1860-1936.
Moore, Marianne, 1887-1972.
Neiman, Gilbert.
Nerber, John.
Nicholl, Louise Townsend.
Nims, John Frederick, 1913-1999.
North, Sterling, 1906-1974.
Orlovitz, Gil, 1918-1973.
Prévert, Jacques, 1900-1977 -- Translations.
Rago, Henry, 1915-1969.
Rivier, Jean, 1896-1987.
Ronsard, Pierre de, 1524-1585.
Shapiro, Karl, 1913-2000.
Smith, William Jay, 1918-2015.
Stearns, Florence (Dickinson), 1883-
Strobel, Marion, 1895-
Tate, Allen, 1899-1979.
Untermeyer, Jean Starr, 1886-1970.
Wheeler, Monroe, 1899-1988.
Zabel, Morton Dauwen, 1901-1964.

Corporate Bodies

Modern Poetry Association.

Associated Titles

Poetry (Chicago)


American literature -- 20th century.
American poetry -- 20th century.
French literature -- Translations into English.
Periodical editors -- United States.
Poetry, Modern -- 20th century.
Poets, American.

Genres and Forms

Genealogies (histories)
Manuscripts for publication.
Programs (documents)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

George Dillon Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of George Dillon and Alice Hodges.

Table of Contents

Correspondence-subject files