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John Myers O'Hara papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-O'Hara

Scope and Content of the Collection

Collection of incoming correspondence and duplicate copies of some of the works of John Myers O'Hara. There are 446 letters and related items in the collection, 263 of which are from Sara Teasdale. The other correspondents were almost all women poets, with 52 letters from Jessie B. Rittenhouse, and 73 letters from Corinne Roosevelt Robinson. The rest of the collection consists of manuscript duplicates of O'Hara's poems and translations; manuscripts of each of these items are cataloged individually and shelved separately.


  • Creation: 1908-1943



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The John Myers O'Hara papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The John Myers O'Hara papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biography of John Myers O'Hara

Lawyer and stockbroker, but notably a writer of poetry, prose and literary translations.

Born into a wealthy family of Chicago in 1870, John O'Hara was educated and then practiced law in that city until he moved permanently to New York in his early thirties. He worked on Wall Street as a broker and although he and his whole family lost their fortunes in the 1929 crash and the subsequent depression, O'Hara continued not only to work in a brokerage house but carried on his life-long activity of writing and publishing poetry. Much of O'Hara's output was entirely his own, including volumes of sonnets and rather creative translations of Greek, Roman and French authors. He also produced poetical works purported to be translations of foreign literature but which actually were completely original works like Poems of Ming Wu (1941) and Xochicuicatl (1940).

When O'Hara's interpretation of the Poems of Sappho appeared in 1907 it was a critical success and later his own poetry collections, such as Pagan Sonnets, Manhattan, Threnodies and his last book Embers in 1921, received favorable notice. He was well-known and active in the poetical circles of his day, which is evident in his lengthy correspondence with several women writers, most notably Sara Teasdale.

John Myers O'Hara died in 1944.


1.7 Linear Feet (4 boxes)


Incoming correspondence and works of poet John Myers O'Hara. The bulk of correspondence is letters from poet Sara Teasdale, 1908-1914.


Papers are organized in the following series:

Series 1: Incoming Correspondence, 1910-1942
Box 1
Series 2: Sara Teasdale Incoming Correspondence, 1908-1914
Box 2
Series 3: Works, 1936-1943
Boxes 2-4

Collection Stack Location

1 27 6


Gift of John Hervey, 1955

Related Archival Materials note

See also: John Myers O'Hara Letters to John Hervey, 1914-1941 (Midwest MS 171). Other O'Hara works can be found by searching the Newberry's online catalog.

Processed by

Amy Nyholm, 1955; Virginia H. Smith, 2000.


This inventory was created with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this inventory do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Inventory of the John Myers O'Hara papers, 1908-1943
Virginia H. Smith
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2022-07-05: Finding aid updated to include a full folder inventory.

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States