Peter Taylor Papers
1917: Peter Matthew Hillsman Taylor is born 8 January in Trenton, Tennessee, the fourth child of Matthew Hillsman Taylor and Katherine Baird (Taylor) Taylor.
1924: The family moves to Nashville.
1926: Hillsman Taylor accepts the presidency of the General American Life Insurance Company, and the family moves to St. Louis. There Peter Taylor attends Miss Rossman's
School, 1926-29, and St. Louis Country Day School, 1929-32.
1932: The family settles in Memphis, and Peter Taylor is enrolled at Central High School.
1935: Taylor graduates from high school with a scholarship to Columbia University, where he intends to study writing. This plan is contrary to his father's desire that
he enter Vanderbilt and prepare himself for a career in law. After graduation Taylor and a friend work their way to England on a freighter, and upon his return Taylor delays
1936: In the spring semester Taylor registers at Southwestern at Memphis. His freshman composition teacher is Allen Tate, who persuades him to go to Vanderbilt in the
fall and study under John Crowe Ransom. At Vanderbilt, Taylor begins a lifelong friendship with Randall Jarrell.
1937: In March and April, Taylor publishes his first stories in River, a literary magazine in Oxford, Mississippi. Ransom leaves Vanderbilt for Kenyon
College at the end of the spring term, and Taylor decides not to return to Vanderbilt. Instead he gets a job selling real estate in Memphis.
1938: Taylor enters Kenyon in the fall and forms a close friendship with Robert Lowell, who has also followed Ransom there.
1940: After graduation from Kenyon, Taylor and Lowell (now married to Jean Stafford) begin graduate study at Louisiana State University under Robert Penn Warren and
Cleanth Brooks. Taylor, who has sold a poem to Kenyon Review and two stories to Southern Review, leaves the program at Thanksgiving.
1941: In June, Taylor is drafted. As a member of a company formed in Memphis, he is stationed for the next two and a half years at Fort Oglethorpe, near Chattanooga,
1942: "The Fancy Woman," first published in Southern Review, is selected for The Best American Short Stories 1942, edited by Martha
Foley. This is the first of nine Taylor stories to appear in this manual between 1942 and 1980.
1943: In April, Allen Tate introduces Taylor to Eleanor Lilly Ross of Norwood, North Carolina. A graduate of Women's College of North Carolina at Greensboro, she is
then a student at Vanderbilt. After a courtship of six weeks, they are married on 4 June at St. Andrew's School chapel near Sewanee, Tennessee, by Father James Harold
Flye. In attendance are Robert Lowell and Jean Stafford, Allen Tate and Caroline Gordon.
1944: In February, Taylor's company is sent to Camp Tidworth in England.
1945: Taylor is discharged in December with the rank of sergeant.
1946: Allen Tate arranges a job for him at Henry Holt Publishers beginning in April, and the Taylors rent an apartment in Greenwich Village. In the fall Taylor takes a
position in the English department at Woman's College of the University of North Carolina.
1947: The Taylors and the Randall Jarrells buy a duplex in Greensboro. This is the first of nearly thirty houses that the Taylors will own.
1948: Taylor's first collection, A Long Fourth and Other Stories, is published in March with an introduction by Robert Penn Warren. In the fall Taylor
goes to Indiana University as assistant professor and director of the creative writing program. Katherine Baird Taylor is born 30 September. Taylor begins a long
association with the New Yorker when his story "Middle Age" is published there in November.
1949: He returns to Woman's College at Greensboro. The Death of a Kinsman, his first published play, appears in Sewanee Review.
1950: Taylor's novel A Woman of Means is published in May. He is awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for 1950-51. "Their Losses" is selected for the
O. Henry prize collection for 1950. This is the first of six Taylor stories to appear in the O. Henry annuals between 1950 and 1982.
1952: He is awarded a National Institute of Arts and Letters grant. For the spring term he is a visiting professor at the University of Chicago, and in the fall he
goes to Kenyon College as associate professor in English and drama. Taylor serves as advisory editor for the Kenyon Review from 1953 to 1959.
1954: The Widows of Thorton (eight stories and a short play) is published in April.
1955: The Taylor's second child, Peter Ross Taylor, is born 7 February. Taylor receives a Fulbright grant for 1955-56 to do research in Paris for a play about
Southerners who settled there after the Civil War. Enroute to France, he lectures at the Fourth Conference on American Studies at Oxford University.
1956: The Taylors spend the summer at Rapello, Italy.
1957: Taylor's play Tennessee Day in St. Louis is published in February. It premieres at Kenyon in April. Taylor joins the faculty of Ohio State
University to teach from January to June each year.
1958: The Taylors spend the summer in Bonassola, Italy (while the Randall Jarrells and Robert Fitzgeralds are living at nearby Levanto), and the fall in Rome.
1959: "Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time" wins the O. Henry first prize. Happy Families Are All Alike, Taylor's third collection of stories, is
published in November. It wins the Ohioana Book Award the next year.
1960: Eleanor Ross Taylor publishes Wilderness of Ladies, the first of her three volumes of poetry. The Taylors purchase a cottage at Monteagle,
Tennessee, and establish their pattern of living there in the summers. Taylor spends the 1960-61 school year in London studying at the Royal Court Theatre on a Ford
1961: Taylor's story "Reservations" is presented as "Delayed Honeymoon" on the U.S. Steel Hour in September.
1963: Taylor returns to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro as Professor of English, teaching fiction writing.
1964: Miss Leonora When Last Seen and Fifteen Other Stories appears in February. In the fall Taylor serves as Visiting Professor at Harvard.
1965: Taylor's father dies in Memphis on 13 November. Taylor is awarded a Rockefeller Foundation grant to devote the 1966-67 school year to writing.
1967: Taylor's sister Sally Taylor Fitzhugh dies in Memphis in the spring. Taylor joins the English department at the University of Virginia. With Robert Penn
Warren and Robert Lowell, he edits the memorial volume Randall Jarrell, 1914-1965.
1968: His play A Stand in the Mountains is published in Kenyon Review.
1969: Taylor's mother dies on 18 May in Memphis. He is inducted into the National Institute of Arts and Letters on 21 May. The Collected Stories of Peter
Taylor is published in August.
1970: "Two Images," the first of Taylor's "Ghost Plays," appears in Shenandoah.
1971: A Stand in the Mountains is first performed on 25 May at the Barter Theatre, Abingdon, Virginia.
1973: Presences: Seven Dramatic Pieces is published in February. Taylor serves as Visiting Professor at Harvard for the fall semester.
1974: In the summer Taylor has a heart attack at Clover Hill, his eighteenth-century residence outside Charlottesville. "The Instruction of a Mistress," the
first of his verse-stories to be published, appears in the September issue of The New Review.
1975: Taylor is given a four-year appointment at Harvard. He resigns the appointment in June, and the Taylors buy a house in Key West and begin spending winters
1977: In The Miro District and Other Stories is published in April. Taylor delivers the commemorative tribute to Robert Lowell at the American Academy
and Institute of Arts and Letters in May.
1978: In May, the American Academy and Institute presents Taylor the Gold Medal for the Short Story.
1979: Taylor delivers the commemorative tribute to Jean Stafford at the American Academy and Institute in November.
1983: In May, Taylor is inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters; and in June, he retires from the University of Virginia.
1984: A Woman of Means is reprinted by Frederick C. Beil. The film version of Taylor's story "The Old Forest," produced and directed by
Steven J. Ross of Memphis State University, premieres in Memphis in November.
1985: The Old Forest and Other Stories is published in February.
1986: The Old Forest and Other Stories wins the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. A Woman of Means and the Collected Stories are reissued
in paperback. Frederic C. Beil brings out a limited edition of Taylor's revised version of A Stand in the Mountains. Taylor suffers a stroke on 24 July.
His novel A Summons To Memphis is published in October. Taylor withdraws the novel from the final list of three nominees for the American Book Award.
1987: Taylor wins the Ritz Hemingway Prize for A Summons To Memphis. Taylor wins the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for A Summons To Memphis.
1989: Taylor wins the Internal Literary Prize Chianti Ruffino Antico Fattore.
1990: Kenyon Review publishes Cousin Aubrey and The Witch of Owl Mountain Springs - both of which were rejected by the New Yorker.
1993: The Oracle At Stoneleigh Court is published.
1994: Taylor's novel In The Tennessee Country is published. Peter Taylor passed away on November 2, 1994 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
[Biographical and Historical Notes are from:
1. Conversations with Peter Taylor. Edited by Hubert H. McAlexander. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 1987.
2. Peter Taylor: A Writer's Life. Hubert H. McAlexander. Louisiana State University Press, 2001.]
Overview | Biographical/Historical Note | Complete Finding Aid (pdf)
Series I Listing | Series II Listing |
Series III Listing | Series IV Listing
Series V Listing | Series VI Listing | Series VII and Oversize Box Listing
Special Collections | Heard
Library | Vanderbilt University
Copyright © Special Collections, Jean and Alexander Heard Library, Vanderbilt
Last modified: April 10, 2008
For more information, contact us at: <