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Alfred Young Fisher papers

Identifier: MRBC-MS-00031

Scope and Contents

Contains the manuscripts of short stories, poems, scholarly studies, proposed movie scripts (sometimes co-authored with Dillwyn Parrish), extensive notes, journals and diaries (especially during his travels), and galley proofs.There are manuscripts of his erotic adventures. There are letters from Harry Duncan, Delmore Schwartz, W.M. Spackman and others. Many of the manuscripts are in bound volumes. Also: Fisher's heavily annotated texts of Joyce's Finnegan's wake and Ulysses; audio tapes made by Fisher.

Dates of Materials

  • 1903 - 1970


Conditions Governing Access

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

Conditions Governing Use

To the extent that he owns copyright, Alfred Young Fisher has assigned the literary rights and copyright in his unpublished works to Smith College; however, copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For instances which may regard materials in the collection not created by Alfred Young Fisher, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical / Historical

Alfred Young Fisher was born July 13, 1902 in New York City to the Rev. Herbert H. Fisher (1868-1934) and Clara A. Young (1876-1966). Shortly after his birth the family moved to Los Angeles, California, where he father was pastor of the Third Presbyterian Church. Fisher was reared in Los Angeles and started college at the University of California, Los Angeles, but after some academic difficulties he withdrew. He went to Princeton University’s preparatory program for a year before entering the University and graduated from Princeton with an A.B. in English literature in 1927. From 1927 to 1929 he was an instructor in English and in charge of the college preparatory program at the Valley Ranch School for Boys in Park County, Wyoming. Fisher married Mary Frances Kennedy on September 5, 1929. That autumn they went to Dijon, France where Fisher attended the Université de Dijon (later to be called the University of Burgundy). He received the “Doctorat de l’University” in 1931; his dissertation was on the comedies of Shakespeare. He held the Anglo-American Field Service Fellowship, 1930-1931 and was a lecturer in English at the Université de Dijon, 1930-1931. Returning to the United States, Alfred and Mary Frances lived at “The Ranch” near Whittier, California, a property owned by Mary Frances’s parents. They later lived in a cottage at Laguna Beach. From 1934 to 1936 he was an instructor in English and the literature of the Bible at Occidental College in Los Angeles, California. The Fishers went to Switzerland in the summer of 1936 at the behest of their friend Dillwyn Parish; the marriage floundered and the Fishers were divorced in 1938. Fisher came to Smith College in 1937 and taught at the College until his retirement in 1967. At Smith College he was particularly known for his seminars on the works of Shakespeare and James Joyce. In a Daily Hampshire Gazette (May 24, 1967) article at the time of his retirement from Smith it was noted that “…Fisher’s rigorous but understanding teaching has been particularly valuable for creative writers, especially poets.” Fisher’s major literary publication was his poem The Ghost in the Underblows (Los Angeles: Ward Ritchie Press, 1940). This long narrative poem was started while he was a doctoral student in Dijon. He described the narrator as “the old fellow who skips in the brains, sowing salt, and pumps the heart full of agony.” Other poems and some scholarly articles by Fisher were published in various small journals. Fisher also “self-published” numerous poetry chapbooks. In June 1939 Fisher married Helen White Eustis (1916 Dec. 31-2015 Jan. 11, Smith College Class of 1938) in Cincinnati, Ohio; their son Adam Eustis was born in April 1940 in New York City while Fisher was on leave of absence from Smith College. After his divorce from Helen Eustis, Fisher married Madeleine Morgan Bond (Smith College Class of 1946) in 1945 with whom he had two daughters: Revan Huntington (Smith College Class of 1968; b. 1946) and Reid Jamieson (Smith College Class of 1970; b. 1948, d. 2001). Madeleine left him in 1957 and a divorce soon followed. Upon retirement from Smith College in 1967 Fisher moved to Perros-Guiree, Brittany, France, to a little stone house where he continued his research on James Joyce and other literary pursuits. He died of a massive coronary in Princeton, New Jersey, on January 3, 1970, while staying at the guest house of his long-time friend from Princeton University days, W. M. Spackman. See: Box 1 (front, item 2) for biographical materials.


10.667 linear feet (23 containers)

Language of Materials



Alfred Young Fisher was an English professor at Smith College from 1937-1967. He was known in academic circles for his study of James Joyce. His papers include manuscripts of short stories, poems, scholarly studies, proposed movie scripts, extensive notes, journals and diaries, galley proofs, letters and audio tapes.


Organized in five series: I. Correspondence (1930s-1964). II. Memorirs and journals. III. Literary writings. IV. Research, scholarly writings and teaching papers. V. Recordings.

Other Finding Aids

A legacy finding aid with more detailed information about this collection is available in this downloadable document: finding aid to the Alfred Young Fisher papers.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Bequest; Alfred Young Fisher, 1970.

Related Materials

Alfred Young Fisher file; Located at; Smith College Archives.  M.F.K. Fisher papers; Located at; Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Harvard University.

Finding aid to the Alfred Young Fisher papers
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2019-10-22: Updated legacy finding aid and published.
  • 2020-02-21: Imported container inventory

Repository Details

Part of the Mortimer Rare Book Collection Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063