Nelson Bentley Papers, 1915-1990  PDF  XML

Overview of the Collection

Bentley, Nelson
Nelson Bentley Papers
1915-1990 (inclusive)
4.9 cubic feet (7 boxes and 1 oversize vertical file)
Collection Number
Papers of poet and former University of Washington Professor of English
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 206-543-1929
Fax: 206-543-1931
Access Restrictions

No restrictions on access to paper-based materials. No user access copies exist for the audio and video recordings. Contact Special Collections for terms of access to these materials.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Nelson Bentley (1918-1990) was a poet and Professor of English at the University of Washington from 1952 until his retirement in 1989. He was born in Elm, Michigan, and received his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Michigan. Bentley studied under W. H. Auden, and was a friend and colleague of Theodore Roethke, among other Northwest poets.

Bentley won the University of Washington Distinguished Teaching Award and the Washington Governor's Award for Service to the Arts. He was co-founder of both Poetry Northwest and The Seattle Review literary journals. In addition, he had a poetry column in The Seattle Times Pacific magazine, conducted poetry readings around Seattle, had regular poetry programs on local radio and television, and founded the Castalia Reading Series, which started at the University of Washington in the mid-1970s and continues today. He also published many books of poetry.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Bentley's papers include manuscripts and student writings by Bentley, correspondence, notebooks, publications, audio and video recordings of Bentley lectures and readings (with others), clippings and artifacts.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Creator's literary rights retained. Contact repository for details.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Arranged into 2 accesstions:

  • Accession no. 5475-001, Nelson Bentley papers, 1940-1990
  • Accession no. 5475-002, Nelson Bentley papers, 1915-1990

Processing Note

Minimally processed.

Related Materials

Beth Singer Bentley Papers

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top


Accession No. 5475-001: Nelson Bentley papers, 1940-1990Return to Top

2.84 cubic feet (5 boxes)

Scope and Content: Bentley's papers include manuscripts and student writings by Bentley, notebooks which include writings and course materials, and audio and video recordings of Bentley lectures and readings (with others).

Arrangement: Arranged into 4 series:
  • Writings, 1940-1989
  • Course materials, 1970-1989, undated
  • Notebooks, 1942-1990
  • Recordings, 1960-1990

Acquisition Info: Source: Sean Bentley, son of Nelson Bentley, 2007.

Restrictions on Access: Open to all users.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Accession
1 5475-001
1 5475-001
Course materials
1970-1989, undated
Box Accession
1 5475-001
University of Michigan
Scope and Content: Spiral notebooks of class writings, notes, and classroom rosters from when Bentley was a student.
2-4 5475-001
University of Washington
Scope and Content: Spiral notebooks of class notes, lesson plans, classroom rosters, and writings from when Bentley was a professor.
Box Accession
5 5475-001
Nelson Bentley
1 sound tape reel
1960 April 11
5 5475-001
Conversations on the Craft of Poetry: Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren with Robert Frost, John Crowe Ransom, Robert Lowell, Theodore Roethke
2 sound tape reels
5 5475-001
CBC, Watkins "Yeats in Dublin"
1 sound tape reel
1967 March 14
5 5475-001
Mrs. Vernon Watkins, Nelson and Beth Bentley, and Dale Nelson reading Vernon Watkins' work
1 sound tape reel
5 5475-001
Highline College
1 sound tape reel
1972 October 18
5 5475-001
Kathie/Jim/Nelson Bentley Bainbridge Island Reading
1 videocassette (VHS)
1987 September
5 5475-001
Nelson Bentley- Art of Teaching lecture at the University of Washington, Savery Hall
1 sound cassette
1989 May 24
5 5475-001
World's Worst by SB
1 videocassette (VHS)
5 5475-001
Castalia Reading #1831, 17th Annual Poems, Stories, and Songs for Children
1 videocassette (VHS)
5 5475-001
The Ballad of the Mari Lwyd-Vernon Watkins, BBC
1 sound tape reel
5 5475-001
2 sound tape reels

Accession No. 5475-002: Nelson Bentley papers, 1915-1990Return to Top

2.06 cubic feet (2 boxes and 1 oversize vertical file)
Arrangement: Arranged as received

Scope and Content: Correspondence, poetry and prose manuscripts, published writings, awards.

Drafts of poems from college and later (handwritten, typed, and photocopied); drafts of poetry manuscripts (including early versions of "Sea Lion Caves"); drafts and finished prose manuscripts (fiction and essays) from college; notebooks with notes for poems and lectures; miscellaneous papers and artifacts, including awards, articles about Bentley, and published writings; and correspondence.

Restrictions on Access: Open to all users

Acquisition Info: Donor: Sean Bentley, son of Nelson Bentley, May 29, 2008.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • College teachers--Washington (State)--Seattle--Archives
  • Poets, American--20th century--History--Sources
  • Poets--Archives
  • University Archives/Faculty Papers (University of Washington)

Personal Names

  • Bentley, Nelson--Archives
  • Bentley, Nelson--Archives

Corporate Names

  • University of Washington--Faculty

Other Creators

  • Corporate Names
    • University of Washington. University Archives