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Carol Bly papers

Identifier: Mss079

Scope and Content Note

The collection includes correspondence, diaries, drafts of writings, notes for lectures, talks, speeches, and writing workshops, plus early personal papers from 1936 to 2003. There is also material from her business, “Custom Crosswords”, including crosswords composed for clients with accompanying correspondence. The collection contains copies of editions of her published books and essays.


  • 1936-2003

Language of Materials


Restrictions on Access

The collection is open and available for use by researchers in the Andersen Library Reading Room.

Restrictions on Use

Copyright retained by the author.

Biographical Note

Carolyn McLean was born in Duluth on April 16, 1930. She attended private school in North Carolina and obtained her B.A. in English and history at Wellesley College in 1951. She taught at Carleton College, Hamline University, University of Minnesota, and the Vermont Studio Center. She married poet Robert Bly in 1955 (later divorced) and published Fifties and Sixties literary magazines with her husband.

Her publications include: Letters from the Country; The Passionate, Accurate Story: Making Your Heart’s Truth into Literature; Beyond the Writer’s Workshop: New Ways to Write Creative Nonfiction; An Adolescent’s Christmas: 1944; and My Lord Bag of Rice: New and Collected Stories.

Awards that Bly has received include: Edelstein-Keller Author of Distinction, University of Minnesota 1998-99; Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, Northland College 1992; Minnesota Book Award 1991; Minnesota Women’s Press Favorite Woman Author 2000; Minnesota Humanities Award for Literature 2001.


89 boxes


The papers of Carol Bly encompass her writings from childhood through her career as a professional author. The collection is especially rich in correspondence, notes from the many writing workshops and courses she has conducted, and drafts of her works.


The collection is organized into the following series:

  1. Diaries
  2. Lectures
  3. Early School-Related Manuscripts
  4. Undated Correspondence
  5. Correspondence
  6. Custom Crosswords
  7. The Loft
  8. Teaching Notes
  9. Notes for Talks and Speeches
  10. Miscellaneous
  11. Personal
  12. Gethsemance Episcopal Church
  13. Reviews and Writings By and About Bly
  14. Writings (Manuscripts of works)
  15. Publications

Physical Location

Mezz (R67, D1-2) [partially processed]


Collection was acquired from the author, 2003.

Related Material

Related collections in the Upper Midwest Literary Archives include the James Wright Papers (Mss066); Milkweed Editions' Records (Mss080); Bill Holm Papers (Mss100).

Notable Correspondents

This lists notable persons whose letters are located in Bly's chronological correspondence. The list was created by staff as they processed the collection.

  1. Bly, Robert
  2. Buchwald, Emilie
  3. Hampl, Patricia
  4. Holm, Bill
  5. Keillor, Garrison
  6. Wright, James

Processing Information

The collection was processed and the finding aid written by Alan Lathrop, May 2004.

Carol Bly papers
Alan Lathrop
June 2004
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Upper Midwest Literary Archives Collecting Area