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University Libraries

James Dickey Library

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).

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.

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.

Since the initial acquisition of James Dickey's books, the collection has been joined by a comprehensive collection of Dickey's own writings, donated by Dr. Matthew J. Bruccoli and Dr. and Mrs. Donald J. Greiner.  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.  Additional gifts from Paula Goff and Joyce Morrow Pair followed.

James Dickey's Library and the Bruccoli and Greiner Collections of James Dickey are an important collection held by the Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections.

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