Skip to main content

Louise Varèse papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00167

Scope and Contents

The Louise Varèse Papers consist of correspondence, photographs, writings, printed materials, research notes, and memorabilia. There is a large amount of correspondence, both personal and professional. It includes correspondence with her friend Maryette Charlton (1971-83), to Edgard Varèse (n.d.), from her son Michael Norton and daughter Sylvia (1930-74), regarding the death of Edgard Varèse (1965), and with various well known art and literary people including Jacques Barzun (1965-73) and Anais Nin (1963-71). There is also professional correspondence regarding music, museums, publishing, and Varèse; A Looking-Glass Diary. Also contained in the papers is material related to Louise Varèse's published and unpublished translations: reviews, manuscripts, correspondence, and printed materials. There is also material related to Edgard Varèse; research notes, proofs, manuscripts for both Volume 1 and 2 of Varèse; A Looking-Glass Diary, as well as reviews of Volume 1; and programs and memorabilia related to his work. Maryette Charlton collected and added much of the material related to Varèse, including two tape recordings, photographs, biographical chronologies, and memorabilia.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1883 - 1989


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to cite the papers for quotations or for publication beyond "fair use" must be obtained from the Sophia Smith collection. The copyright owner for the Varèse Papers is unknown. Diane Bouchard owns copyright to letters and photographs by her father, Thomas Bouchard. Copyright to materials authored by other persons may be owned by those individuals or their heirs or assigns. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Biographical / Historical

Louise Varèse was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, November 20, 1890, daughter of John Lindsay McCutcheon and Mary Louise Taylor. She attended Smith College (class of 1912), leaving in the fall of 1911 to marry Allen Norton. A son, Michael, was born in 1912. She was separated from Norton in 1916, and they were divorced in 1920. In 1922 she married composer Edgard Varèse, throughout her life she translated works of French authors and poets into English, including Rimbaud, Proust, Sartre, Stendahl, and Simenon, among many others and was awarded Chevalier de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Republic of France in 1969. She also wrote articles, stories, and poems. Following the death of Edgard Varèse in 1965, she published Varèse; A Looking-Glass Diary, Volume I, 1893-1928 in 1972. Volume 2 was in progress when she died July 1, 1989.


12.542 linear feet (20 containers)


Biographer and translator. Personal and professional correspondence; photographs; writings; published and unpublished translations of reviews, manuscripts, correspondence, and printed material; research notes; and memorabilia. Material related to Edgard Varèse includes research notes, proofs, manuscripts, and reviews for the Varèse; A Looking-Glass Diary; and programs and memorabilia related to his work. Notable correspondents include Edgard Varèse, Jacques Barzun, and Anais Nin.


This collection is organized as follows:

  5. V. BOOKS AND PERIODICALS [on shelf]


This collection has been added to over time in multiple "accessions." An accession is a group of materials received from the same source at approximately the same time.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Louise Varèse Papers were donated to the Sophia Smith Collection in 1975 to 1987 by Louise Varèse and Maryette Charlton.

Processing Information

Finding aid revised by Jesse Kline, 2012.

Processing Information

Between September 2022 and February 2023, Smith College Special Collections renumbered many boxes to eliminate duplicate numbers within collections in order to improve researcher experience. The following changes were made in this collection: Accession 1987-S-0077, Boxes 1-3 renumbered as Boxes 18-20

Louise Varèse papers
Finding Aid
Finding aid prepared by Jesse Kline.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:18-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063