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Granville Hicks Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: -
Date: unknown

Biographical History

Granville Hicks (1901-1982) was an American Marxist and later anti-Marxist novelist, literary critic, educator, and editor.

Born September 9, 1901, in Exeter, NH, to Frank Stevens and Carrie Weston (Horne) Hicks, Granville Hicks earned his bachelor's degree at Harvard University in 1923, and a Master's in 1929. He also studied for two years at Harvard Theological School. In 1925 he married Dorothy Dyer, with whom he had a daughter, Stephanie.

From 1925-1928 Hicks taught at Smith College in Northampton, MA as an instructor in biblical literature. He was an assistant professor of English at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (1929-35) and a counselor in American civilization at Harvard (1938-39). For three years (1955-1958) he taught novel writing at the New School for Social Research in New York. He was a visiting professor at New York University (1959), Syracuse University (1960), and Ohio University (1967-68). He was the director of the Yaddo artists' community beginning in 1942 and later served as its acting executive director. For 35 years (1930-1965) he was the literary advisor to Macmillan Publishers.

Hicks was a highly influential Marxist literary critic during the 1930s, well-known for his involvement in a number of celebrated causes (including his well-publicized resignation from the Communist Party in 1939). He established his reputation as an important literary critic with the 1933 publication of The Great Tradition: An Interpretation of American Literature since the Civil War, a systematic history of American literature from a Marxist perspective. In 1932 he voted for the Communist Party ticket and joined almost all the significant Communist party front groups of the 1930s. In 1934 Hicks joined the Communist Party itself and became editor of its cultural magazine The New Masses.

In 1935 Hicks was let go from his teaching position at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a dismissal he claimed was politically motivated although school officials denied this. He continued to teach at various institutions but devoted more and more of his time to writing. In 1936 Hicks was asked to co-write John Reed: The Making of a Revolutionary, a biography of the radical journalist and author of Ten Days that Shook the World. Communist Party chairman Earl Browder pressured Hicks to remove several passages that reflected negatively on the Soviet Union, but in the end the book was praised for its even-handed and unbiased presentation.

In 1939, in protest against the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact, Hicks resigned from the Communist Party. He attempted to organize an independent left-wing alternative organization, but with little success. By 1940 he had entirely renounced Communism and termed himself a democratic socialist; that same year he wrote an essay for The Nation entitled, "The Blind Alley of Marxism." During the 1950s Hicks testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee twice, and in 1954 in his essay titled "The Liberals Who Haven't Learned," he "unambiguously characterized the aim of communism as 'brutal revolutionary totalitarianism,' and chided liberals for providing a 'verbal cloak of "social betterment"' for the Soviets."

Hicks died June 18, 1982, in Franklin Park, NJ. By the time of his death, his early radical/Marxist writings were balanced by his later turn to a broader, more humanistic criticism.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Granville Hicks Papers consist of correspondence - subject files, writings, memorabilia, printed material, galleys, proofs and review copies, manuscripts and published material about the American writer, lecturer, literary critic, educator, and editor. Correspondence-subject files includes family (primarily wife Dorothy) and Hicks' agent agent Henry Volkening, as well as authors (Newton Arvin, Saul Bellow, Erskine Caldwell, Willa Cather, James Fenimore Cooper, James Gould Cozzens, William Faulkner, Henry James, Lucy Robins Lang, Samuel Levenson, John Lydenburg, Wright Morris, Braham Norwick, Joyce Carol Oates, Flannery O'Connor, David Graham Phillips, Richard Rovere, J. D. Salinger, Lincoln Steffens, Arnold J. Toynbee, Mark Twain, Ursula Genung Walker, Asa Wilgus, Edmund Wilson), poets (William Cullen Bryant, Corliss Lamont, Chard Powers Smith, Harvey Curtis Webster), publications (The Atlantic Monthly, Chicago Tribune, Daedalus, Harper's, Harvard Communist, Kenyon Review, Meanjin, Modern Socialism, New York Herald Tribune, Saturday Review), publishers (Doubleday, Dutton, Macmillan, Modern Age Books, Putnam, Viking Press), universities (Bennington College, Cornell University, Harvard University, the New School for Social Research, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), professional and other organizations (Famous Writers School, League of American Writers, Literary Guild of America, National Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners, Rockefeller Foundation, Yaddo), and other American radicals (Earl Browder, Malcolm Cowley, James T. Farrell), as well as topics such as American literature, Fabian socialism, Grafton, New York (Hicks' home town), economic conditions in Great Britain and the United States, the Harvard-Sacco-Vanzetti Committee, the House Committee on Un-American Activities, Marxist study group, and Hicks' resignation from Communist Party. There are also folders devoted to Hicks' books including Small Town and The Great Tradition.

Writings comprises articles, books (both by and about Hicks, including extensive research files for John Reed: the Making of a Revolutionary), journals, lectures, and reader's reports. Memorabilia contains an assortment of material including address books, notes, college course material, and photographs. Printed material consists of book reviews of Hicks' work, clippings, pamphlets, periodicals (Communist Review, Harvard Monthly, Hound and Horn, The New Leader, Partisan Review, Science and Society: a Marxian Quarterly).

Drafts and other pre-publication material are located in Unrevised galleys, proofs and review copies, while material about Hicks comprises Manuscripts and published material about Granville Hicks. The final series, Miscellaneous material, includes among other things several articles by John Reed and a poster for the exhibit "Art for The Masses (1911-1917): a Radical Magazine and its Graphics."

Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence-subject files is arranged alphabetically. Writings and Printed material are arranged alphabetically by type and then by title or topic. Memorabilia is arranged alphabetically by type. Galleys and Manuscripts are arranged alphabetically by author.


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.

Related Material

A number of the books and periodicals that originally came with the collection have been removed for separate cataloging. These items are noted in the inventory as "Transferred to Rare Books" and can be located using the Classic Catalog.

Subject Headings


Abbe, George, 1911-1989.
Adamic, Louis, 1899-1951.
Algren, Nelson, 1909-1981.
Allen, Devere, 1891-1955.
Arnow, Harriette Louisa Simpson, 1908-1986.
Arvin, Newton, 1900-1963.
Bellow, Saul.
Bixler, Julius Seelye, 1894-1985.
Bliven, Bruce, 1889-1977.
Bourjaily, Vance, 1922-2010.
Brooks, Van Wyck, 1886-1963.
Browder, Earl, 1891-1973.
Brownell, Baker, 1887-1965.
Bryant, Louise, 1885-1936.
Burroughs, Harry E. (Harry Ernest), 1890-
Calverton, vol. F. (Victor Francis), 1900-1940.
Cantwell, Robert, 1908-1978.
Cargill, Oscar, 1898-1972.
Carroll, Gladys Hasty, 1904-1999.
Champney, Freeman.
Cheever, John.
Chevalier, Haakon, 1902-1985.
Conroy, Jack, 1898-1990.
Corey, Lewis.
Cowley, Malcolm, 1898-1989.
Cruden, Robert.
Curti, Merle (Merle Eugene), 1897-1996.
Dahlberg, Edward, 1900-1977.
Davis, Robert Gorham.
De Voto, Bernard, 1897-1955.
Dell, Floyd, 1887-1969.
Doughty, Howard, 1904-
Draper, Theodore, 1912-2006.
Dupee, F. W. (Frederick Wilcox), 1904-1979.
Eastman, Max, 1883-1969.
Farrell, James T. (James Thomas), 1904-1979.
Frank, Waldo David, 1889-1967.
Freeman, Joseph, 1897-1965.
Fry, Varian, 1907-1967.
Gold, Herbert, 1924-
Gold, Michael, 1893-1967.
Goldman, Emma, 1869-1940.
Gregory, Horace, 1898-1982.
Hallowell, Robert.
Haydn, Hiram Collins, 1907-1973.
Herbst, Josephine, 1892-1969.
Hicks, Granville, 1901-1982.
Hillyer, Robert, 1895-1961.
Kennedy, William, 1928-
Kreymborg, Alfred, 1883-1966.
Krutch, Joseph Wood, 1893-1970.
Lamont, Corliss, 1902-1995.
Levenson, Sam, 1911-1980.
MacLeish, Archibald, 1892-1982.
Madden, David, 1933-
Matthiessen, F. O. (Francis Otto), 1902-1950.
Mencken, H. L. (Henry Louis), 1880-1956.
Morris, Wright, 1910-1998.
Nevins, Allan, 1890-1971.
O'Connor, Flannery.
Owen, Guy, 1925-1981.
Page, Myra, 1897-1993.
Painter, Charlotte.
Parrington, Vernon Louis, 1871-1929.
Reed, John, 1887-1920.
Robbins, Jack Alan.
Roskolenko, Harry.
Rovere, Richard H. (Richard Halworth), 1915-1979.
Schorer, Mark, 1908-1977.
Scott, Evelyn, 1893-1963.
Simonson, Lee, 1888-1967.
Sinclair, Upton, 1878-1968.
Smith, Chard Powers, 1894-1977.
Steffens, Lincoln, 1866-1936.
Wilson, Edmund, 1895-1972.
Winter, Ella.
Wolfe, Bertram D. (Bertram David), 1896-1977.

Corporate Bodies

American Civil Liberties Union.
Macmillan Company.
New School for Social Research (New York, N.Y. : 1919-1997)
Yaddo (Artists' colony)

Associated Titles

New leader (New York, N.Y.)
New masses.
Saturday review.


American literature -- 20th century -- History and criticism.
Authors, American.
Biographers -- Authorship.
City and town life -- United States.
Communism -- United States.
Communism and education.
Communism and intellectuals.
Community life.
Critics -- United States
Literary historians.
Literary quarrels.
Literature -- History and criticism.
Marxist criticism.
Novelists, American.
Publishers and publishing.
Radicalism -- United States.


United States -- Intellectual life -- 20th century.

Genres and Forms

Book reviews.
Clippings (information artifacts)
Drafts (documents)
Manuscripts for publication.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Granville Hicks Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Majority gift of Granville Hicks. A few items, gift of others, as noted in the inventory below.

Table of Contents

Correspondence - subject files



Printed material

Unrevised galleys, proofs and review copies

Manuscripts and published material about Granville Hicks

Miscellaneous material