Chester Kallman Papers

Collection Summary

Title: Chester Kallman Papers
Call Number: MS 89-01
Size: 0.5 linear feet
Acquisition: Purchased, circa 1988
Processed by: KJC, 10-1-1991; JEF, 10-5-1998; MN, 11-26-2013
Note: Related collection, MS 89-03, W. H. Auden Papers
Restrictions: None

Literary Rights

Literary rights were not granted to Wichita State University. When permission is granted to examine the manuscripts, it is not an authorization to publish them. Manuscripts cannot be used for publication without regard for common law literary rights, copyright laws and the laws of libel. It is the responsibility of the researcher and his/her publisher to obtain permission to publish. Scholars and students who eventually plan to have their work published are urged to make inquiry regarding overall restrictions on publication before initial research.

Content Note

The collection of Chester Kallman contains 34 sheets of typescript poems and three playbooks. The poems, titled The Sense of Occasion, are written by Chester Kallman as are the two plays. Two playbooks are original typewritten copies, The Tuscan Players and Anne Boleyn: Tragic Opera in Two Acts. The third playbook is a mimeographed copy of The Tuscan Players.


Chester Kallman (January 7, 1921-January 18, 1975) was an American poet, librettist and translator. His post secondary education was at Brooklyn College and the University of Michigan. Kallman published three literary works, Elegy (1951), Storm at Castle Franco (1956) and Absent and Present (1963).

Kallman was considered a witty, resourceful, most musical poet and operatic scholar. He wrote a libretto for Carlos Chavez, The Tuscan Players, and made singing translations of other operas ( L’incoronazione de Poppea, Falstaff and Bluebeard’s Castle). His greatest contribution to the realm of fine arts were his collaborations with Wystan Hugh Auden. They formed a corporate personality, writing melodious, elegant poetry.

Auden considered Chester Kallman responsible for his interest in opera. They collaborated on a libretto for Stravinsky’s“The Rake’s Progress,” published Delia (a delicate masque) and two librettos Elegy for Young Lovers and Bassard.

Detailed Description: Series Listing

Series 1 Box 1 FF 1 Poems. Consists of typescript poem collection, The Sense of Occasion.
Series 2 Box 1 FF 2-4 Playbooks. Contains playbooks of The Tuscan Players: Lyric Drama in Three Acts and Anne Boleyn: Tragic Opera in Two Acts.

Detailed Description: Box and Folder Listing

Series 1 ‒ Poems

Box 1 FF 1 “The Sense of Occasion: Poems by Chester Kallman.” Typescript pages include originals and photocopies with handwritten annotations. Poems include Winter’s Journey; The Feasting Tune; On Edge; The Happy Ending; Dead Sender; The Christening; The Middle of The Night: The Hands; Song For A Round Game; Two’s Company; The Matrix; Theaters; The Body’s Complaint to the Soul; Amoretti; Epilogue to a Lost Comedy for J. B.; Salome Dance (2 pages); The Capital of Away; The Solitudes: A Little Cantata for Elizabeth; Soderstrom & Kersten Meyer (2 pages); Like As Not; Out of Bullfinch; Overture to Collaboration on a Libretto of The Bacchae for Hans Werner Heuze; Delphi for Alan Ansen (2 pages); The African Ambassador a suite for William Meredith; His Birthday Wishes for You; His Private Collection; His Credentials; His Folly His Forbears; His Upper Class Love Affair; His Bohemian Love Affair; His Epitaph His Tour of Naples; His Night Voyages; His Colleague’s Tactics; His Reason for Locking Doors; His Likeness; His Rhapsody Against the Moon; His Tactics; His National Anthem; The Honey Divines. Poems were published under same title in 1971 by G. Braziller.

Series 2 ‒ Playbooks

Box 1 FF 2 Contains a playbook by Kallman, The Tuscan Players: Lyric Drama in Three Acts.
Box 1 FF 3 Contains a copy playbook by Kallman, The Tuscan Players: Lyric Drama in Three Acts.
Box 1 FF 4 Contains a playbook by Kallman, Anne Boleyn: Tragic Opera in Two Acts.