Robert Cantwell papers , 1908-1978

Overview of the Collection

Cantwell, Robert, 1908-1978
Robert Cantwell papers
1908-1978 (bulk)
1866-1987 (inclusive)
60.23 linear feet, (49 containers)  :  24 record storage boxes, 4 manuscript boxes, 1 clamshell box, 9 photo boxes, 9 flat boxes, 2 oversize flat boxes
Collection Number
Coll 020
Robert Cantwell (1908 January 31 – 1978 December 8) was a novelist, biographer, essayist, and editor for several publications including, Time (1935-1936, 1938-1945), Fortune (1937), Newsweek (1949-1954), and Sports Illustrated (1956-1978). The Robert Cantwell papers contain correspondence, diaries, literary manuscripts, research files, published works, clippings, and photographs.
University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives
UO Libraries--SCUA
1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR
Telephone: 5413463068
Access Restrictions

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time. Collection includes sound recordings, moving images, and digital files to which access is restricted. Access to these materials is governed by repository policy and may require the production of listening or viewing copies. Researchers requiring access must notify Special Collections and University Archives in advance and pay fees for reproduction services as necessary.

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Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Historical NoteReturn to Top

Robert Cantwell (1908 January 31 – 1978 December 8) was a novelist, biographer, essayist, and editor for several publications including, Time (1935-1936, 1938-1945), Fortune (1937), Newsweek (1949-1954), and Sports Illustrated (1956-1978). Robert Emmett Cantwell was born in Little Falls (now Vader), Washington to Charles James Cantwell and Nina Adelia (Hanson) Cantwell. He married Mary Elizabeth Chambers February 2, 1931 and had three children: Joan McNeice (Mrs. George Stolz, Jr.), Betsy Ann (Mrs. Walter Pusey III), and Mary Elizabeth Emmett (Mrs. Lars-Erik Nelson).

Cantwell attended the University of Washington (1924-1925) and spent four years (1925-1929) working as a veneer clipper man for Harbor Plywood Co. in Hoquiam, Washington. After selling a short story to The American Caravan in 1929, Cantwell moved to New York where he began work on his first novel, Laugh and Lie Down (1931). Upon completion of the novel, Cantwell engaged in freelance writing and published articles for several publications, including The New Republic and The Nation, among others. He published a second proletarian novel, The Land of Plenty, in 1934 and began work, in collaboration with Lincoln Steffens, on a biography of Boston merchant E.A. Filene (which was never completed). Over the next ten years, Cantwell worked on the editorial staffs for Time (1935-1936) and Fortune (1937), ultimately becoming an associate editor for Time, 1938-1945. Throughout the 1930s, Cantwell became acquainted with numerous literary personalities, including John Dos Passos, James, T. Farrell, Ernest Hemingway, Edmund Wilson, Malcolm Crowley, Whittaker Chambers, and Henry Luce.

Over the next three years (1945-1948), Cantwell researched and wrote the biography, Nathaniel Hawthorne: The American Years (1948). From 1949 to 1954, Cantwell worked as the literary editor for Newsweek and then took up freelance writing again until 1956. At this time, Cantwell began an association with Sports Illustrated that lasted the rest of his life. Of the numerous articles composed for Sports Illustrated, three became books: Alexander Wilson: Naturalist and Pioneer (1961), The Real McCoy (1971), and The Hidden Northwest (1972).

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Robert Cantwell papers contain incoming and outgoing correspondence regarding Cantwell's personal life and writing endeavors; bound personal journals, notebooks, and daily planners; drafts for several of Cantwell's novel-length works and articles; illustrations and printing ephemera; research files; notes related to general research topics, as well as Cantwell's writings; financial records; newspaper and magazine clippings; maps; collected sheet music; and photographs of Cantwell's immediate and extended family, activities related to his writings, family and work-related travel, and family homes and properties.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Authors, American--20th century
  • Sports journalism--Authorship