The James Dickey Library

and the
James Dickey Poetry Seminar Room

James Dickey
James Dickey, 1996. Photo © Gene Crediford.

The James Dickey Library at the University of South Carolina commemorates one of its most distinguished faculty members and preserves his extensive personal book collection for the use of scholars and students.

The late James Dickey (1923-1997), poet, novelist, and critic, taught at the University as Poet-in-Residence and First Carolina Professor of English for nearly thirty years. Dickey first won recognition with his early volumes of poetry, Into the Stone (1960) and Buckdancer’s Choice(1965), and in the mid-1960s he served as poet-in-residence at the Library of Congress. Shortly after he came to Carolina, his first novel Deliverance (1970) and the film that followed brought him a different kind of popular recognition. Later volumes of poetry included Zodiac (1979), Puella (1982), The Eagle’s Mile (1990), and Collected Poems (1992). Dickey’s other books included his novels Alnilam (1987) and To the White Sea (1993), and two volumes of essays and criticism,Babel to Byzantium (1968) and Self-interviews (1984).

The Thomas Cooper Medal
The Thomas Cooper Medal

Dickey was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the National Book Award for Poetry, and the French Prix Medicis. Among his many other honors, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of South Carolina and the Thomas Cooper Medal, from the library’s Thomas Cooper Society.

 

James Dickey playing guitar
James Dickey, 1993. Photo © Gene Crediford.

As his students and friends knew, James Dickey’s writing was nourished by an extraordinary breadth of reading in literature, philosophy, history, and other subjects. The library he gathered, from the nineteen-forties on, includes first and other significant editions by many of the most important American and European authors of his lifetime. Mr. Dickey had himself expressed the wish, during the seventieth birthday celebrations held for him by Thomas Cooper Library in 1993, that his books should be transferred after his death to the University. With the cooperation of his Estate, this has now been accomplished. This major acquisition—some 18,000 volumes in all—provides inspiration to those at the start of a writing career, and is also a rich resource for scholars researching Dickey’s work and the literary culture of his times.

 

The James Dickey Poetry Seminar Room
The James Dickey Poetry Seminar Room

The James Dickey Poetry Seminar Room, entered through the Graniteville Room on the library mezzanine, provides an appropriate setting for the kind of discussion-based teaching that Dickey himself did so well. The room houses pictures, photographs, and other memorabilia from Dickey’s career, along with a display of books by Dickey, and some of the books from James Dickey’s own library, many presentation copies inscribed to him by their authors.

Since the initial acquisition of James Dickey's books, the collection has been joined by a comprehensive collection of Dickey's own writings, donated in 2001 by Professor Matthew J. Bruccoli.  The photographs shown here of Dickey among his books are from a series of twenty-four photographs by Gene Crediford, donated to the library by Professor Crediford in 1999.

After accessioning and cataloguing, the books will be housed in Thomas Cooper Library's Department of Rare Books and Special Collections and available for study in the Graniteville Room.

For more information, contact:

Rare Books and Special Collections
Thomas Cooper Library
University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC 29205
Phone: 803-777-3847
Email: TCLRareBooks@mailbox.sc.edu

 

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