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Collection Description 35,000 Items (164.5 linear feet) Access: Some restrictions. Contact curator. James Ingram Merrill was born in New York City on March 3, 1926, and grew up in Manhattan and Southampton. He was the son of Charles Merrill, co-founder of the brokerage firm Merrill Lynch, and his second wife, Hellen Ingram. He began writing poems at as a child, and at age sixteen, while he was in prep school, his father had a book of them privately printed under the title Jim’s Book . Merrill’s studies at Amherst College were interrupted by service in the U.S. Army from 1944 to 1945. Another book, The Black Swan , was privately printed in 1946 while he was still in college. Following his graduation in 1947, he taught for a year at Bard College. His first trade book, First Poems , was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1951 to critical acclaim. In 1956 he used a portion of his inheritance to found the Ingram Merrill Foundation, which has since awarded grants to hundreds of artists and writers. Over the next decade he published two novels, The Seraglio (1957) and The (Diblos) Notebook (1965) as well as two books of poems, The Country of a Thousand Years of Peace (1959) and Water Street (1962). His 1966 collection of poems, Nights and Days , won the National Book Award and brought a wider audience to his work. He went on to earn numerous awards for his poetry, including the Bollingen Prize for Braving the Elements (1972), the Pulitzer Prize for Divine Comedies (1976), and a second National Book Award for Mirabell: Books of Number (1978). In 1983, his epic poem The Changing Light at Sandover (1982), consisting of “The Book of Ephraim,” Mirabell, Scripts for the Pageant , and “The Higher Keys,” won the National Book Critics Circle Award. During the 1980s and early 90s, Merrill also authored a book of collected prose, Recitative , three more collections of poetry, and a critically acclaimed autobiography of his twenties spent in Rome, A Different Person . On February 6, 1995 James Merrill died from AIDS in Tucson, Arizona. His last book, A Scattering of Salts , was published a month later. In addition to original manuscripts, drafts, typescripts, diaries, reading notes, college materials, ephemera, and photographs, the collection also consists of an extensive correspondence with his family, friends, and business associates. Audiovisual and personal material document other aspects of Merrill’s life. Also included are the journals and letters of David Kalstone, a close companion of Merrill’s from the 1960s until his early death in 1986, as well as correspondence, scrapbooks, and ephemera belonging to his mother, Hellen Ingram Plummer. Items related to his lifelong companion, David Jackson, are represented as well.