Frances Whyatt papers
Collection Scope and Contents Summary
The Frances Whyatt papers contain materials produced and saved by Frances Whyatt during 1969-2000. The papers document Whyatt’s creative writing practice through drafts, manuscripts, and correspondence, as well as personal and professional networks and involvement with activist and professional organizations. The collection is organized in three series, Series 1 contains Whyatt’s correspondence, Series 2 includes manuscripts and written works, and Series 3 contains ephemera and writing that does not directly pertain to Whyatt’s oeuvre (such as journal entries, miscellaneous research materials, and recipes).
Series 1 includes thirteen boxes of Frances Whyatt’s personal, professional, and administrative correspondence spanning the years 1969-2000, and some undated materials. In addition to letters and attached documents, several folders also contain assorted greeting cards, newspaper clippings, photographs, and a pin. The personal letters within the collection, both incoming and outgoing, reveal the nature of Whyatt’s relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and romantic partners. Correspondence with writer friends, such as Hugh Seidman, Diane Wolff, and Rochelle Ratner, is present in each box and often includes poetry and drafts by these authors and Whyatt herself, providing insight into Whyatt’s approach to writing. Also notable among personal correspondence are the exchanges between Frances Whyatt and her family members, such as brothers Oliver Grannis and Joseph Grannis, which span throughout the entire series. The professional correspondence with publishing houses, universities, and writer’s organizations reveals information about Whyatt's experience as a freelance author and poet in late-20th century New York. There is an abundance of rejection letters present within Whyatt’s papers, but also evidence of many successful publications and reviews, flyers to Downtown poetry readings she participated in, and communication regarding writer’s grants, awards and fellowships. Whyatt’s professional undertakings which are well documented in the series include the Poetry in the Schools program (approximately 1974-79), Macdowell Colony Fellowship (approximately 1974-1980), and consistent involvement with PEN and other writer’s associations. Alongside professional engagements, the correspondence series documents Whyatt’s work with feminist organizations such as Women Against Pornography, Women's Anti-rape Coalition, and National Organization for Non-Parents. The series’ administrative correspondence documents Whyatt’s residences in Florida and New York, a court case, and her divorce from Ron Schiavone.
The Manuscript series contains fifteen boxes of drafts of written works by Frances Whyatt produced from 1973 to 1993. Whyatt’s writing included poetry, prose in the form of short stories, novels and experimental plays. The series includes unpublished and published titles written under the names Frances Whyatt as well as Whyatt’s pseudonym, Shylah Boyd. Titles included are: There was a Time, Everything Under the Sun, “Key Lime Pie”, “Of The Flesh”, Lost Love, American Gypsy, “Electra”, The Book of Maps, American Made, Europe on Five, A Real Man, and Sailor, Sailor!. Some manuscripts and drafts are near completion, in the form of bound galleys or including copyright and title page information, while others include handwritten edits or notes and can be found in the form of loose chapters. The series also includes compilations of poems, some of which were never published, and some of which were published in independent anthologies, collections and literary magazines. Many of Whyatt’s poetic works share titles across compilations, and reference her continuous reworking of themes and ideas. Whyatt’s writing includes characters that frequently reappear throughout her oeuvre of work. Although her work is not directly autobiographical, Whyatt is known to use her own life experience as inspiration for her writing. The name Shylah is used for several protagonists in her novels and short stories, including Everything Under the Sun and the published work, American Made. Plotlines, motifs and locales are similarly repeated across drafts and published works. Whyatt primarily published novels under the name Shylah Boyd, beginning in 1975, whereas her poetry was primarily published under the name Frances Whyatt. Of her poetic works, only the collection American Gypsy has been published in full, although drafts of individual poems can be seen throughout the series in various stages of edit.
Series 3, Additional Materials, contains a book of writings, ephemera, and realia from 1972 to 2000. These are materials which the archivists did not identify as directly connected to Frances Whyatt’s creative writing practice or correspondence, but nevertheless hold evidentiary value about the author’s activities. This includes event flyers, journal entries, research materials, correspondence about animal rights activism, recipes, and a fashion project in collaboration with Mary Grosvenor Boyd, Whyatt’s mother. Other significant materials include correspondence about Robert Hazel, Hazel’s poetry, and a memorial article on Robert Hazel titled "Knowing Bob" written by Frances Whyatt.
- Creation: 1969-2000, undated
- Whyatt, Frances (Person)
This collection has no restrictions.
Conditions Governing Use
Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Barnard Archives and Special Collections. The Barnard Archives and Special Collections approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; the responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron. Reproductions can be made for research purposes.
Frances Whyatt is an American author, poet and activist. She has published poetry, short stories, and novels under the name Frances Whyatt, as well as under the pseudonym Shylah Boyd. Her published works of fiction and poetry include American Made (1975), American Gypsy (1983), and A Real Man & Other Stories (1990). Her work focuses on themes of gender, sexuality, and feminism.
Whyatt was born Frances Armstrong Grannis on March 8, 1945 in Fort Hayes, Ohio. She spent her early life in Franklin, North Carolina and the Florida Keys, which would later serve as the inspiration for her debut novel American Made. Upon graduating from Coral Shores High School in 1963, Whyatt matriculated at Boston University to study acting. She went on to study creative writing and cultural anthropology at the University of Minnesota. She married Thomas Edward Whyatt in 1964 and following their divorce in 1969, moved to the West Village of New York, where she would remain rooted for the rest of her life. In 1974, Whyatt married Ronald Schiavone; they divorced in 1983. She primarily split her time as an adult living between New York and Florida and as of the writing of this finding aid in 2023 lives in Massachusetts.
Upon moving to New York City, Whyatt worked as a freelance writer and began to publish her poetry in 1969. She published the anthology Equal Time with fellow writer, friend and neighbor at Westbeth Artists Housing, Hugh Seidman, in 1972. In 1973, Whyatt participated in her first of three writer’s colony residencies as a MacDowell Fellow. It was during this period that she began to use the pen name Shylah Boyd, “Shylah” being derived from a cousin’s name and “Boyd” from her mother’s maiden name. Her first novel, American Made, was published in 1975, and was the first publication authored under her pseudonym. In 1983, American Gypsy was published as her first full-length collection of poetry, authored under the name Frances Whyatt. Whyatt primarily published written works of prose, including novels and short stories, under the name Shylah Boyd, and published under the name Frances Whyatt for her works of poetry. The character “Shylah” is featured as a frequent protagonist in many of Whyatt’s prose manuscripts, which include themes largely pulled from her lived experiences.
Whyatt worked as a professor of Creative Writing at Rutgers University and Fairleigh Dickinson University. She also participated in the Poetry in the Schools Program, within the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Over the course of her career, Whyatt took part in several artist residency and fellowship programs, and received numerous awards for her writing, including the Calliope Award in 1974, the Triton International Poetry Contest Award in 1975, and a PEN award for her short story “Clean and Gentle Moments” published in A Real Man & Other Stories (under the name Shylah Boyd). She has published work in the New York Times, The Nation, The New Republic, Chelsea, Southern Poetry Review, Ms. Magazine and Cosmopolitan Magazine. Whyatt’s correspondence reveals a breadth of personal and professional relationships with fellow writers in the New York scene, such as Hugh Seidman, Robert Hazel, Diane Wolff, Daniela Gioseffi, Rochelle Ratner, and Adrienne Rich.
In addition to her writing career, Whyatt was an active feminist, humanist and environmentalist. She was a member of Women Against Pornography, as well as the National Organization for Non-Parents. She remained vocal in feminist activism throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
Equal Time, Equal Time Press, co-editor with Hugh Seidman (1972)
“Path,” Nation (1972)
Poems appear in Loves, Etc., edited by Marguerite Harris. Knopf Doubleday (1973)
“Ode of Anger,” New Republic (1973)
American Gypsy, Countryman Press (Woodstock, VT): Farrar, Straus & Giroux (1975); Fawcett Publications, Literary Guild, and Macdonald & James (1984)
“Knowing Bob: A Look Back,” Southern Quarterly (2002)
A Real Man & Other Stories, British American Publishing with Simon & Schuster (1990)
American Made, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (1975)
“Cherry-Shiree” in Bearing Life: Women’s Writings on Childlessness, New York: Feminist Press at the City University of New York (2000)
12.5 Linear Feet (30 full size document boxes)
Frances Whyatt (born 1945) is an American author, poet and activist. She has published poetry, short stories, and novels under the name Frances Whyatt as well as under the pseudonym Shylah Boyd. Her published works of fiction and poetry include American Made (1975), American Gypsy (1983), and A Real Man & Other Stories (1990). Her work focuses on themes of gender, sexuality, and feminism. The Frances Whyatt Papers (1969-2000) document Whyatt’s personal and professional relationships, creative writing practice, and her activism in feminist organizations such as Women Against Pornography. Materials in this collection include drafts, manuscripts, and correspondence. The collection also contains ephemera and miscellaneous materials, such as journal entries, research notes, fashion sketches, and recipes.
The Frances Whyatt papers are arranged into the following series and subseries and described at the folder level:
Series 1, Correspondence
Series 2, Manuscripts and Written Works
Subseries 2.1, Poetry
Subseries 2.2, American Gypsy
Subseries 2.4, The Book of Maps
Subseries 2.5, Sailor, Sailor!
Subseries 2.6, Manuscripts
Subseries 2.7, A Real Man & Other Stories
Subseries 2.8, Everything Under the Sun
Subseries 2.9, Europe on Five
Subseries 2.10, There was a Time
Subseries 2.11, American Made
Subseries 2.12, Publications
Series 3, Additional Materials
Series 1 is arranged chronologically; the order of the materials when they arrived at the archives was maintained within folders.
Series 2 is arranged into subseries by title of individually written works. Drafts are grouped chronologically, or in assumed chronological order. Titled unpublished works have been kept together according to their titles, reflecting Whyatt’s working titles as well as the progression of such titles as they evolve into later works. Untitled or unlabeled drafts, or miscellaneous poems, have been grouped together into the subseries: Manuscript (drafts) and Poetry (drafts).
Series 3 is arranged chronologically, with undated materials at the end of the series.
This collection is located in the Barnard Archives and Special Collections, Barnard Library. To use this collection, please contact the Barnard Archives and Special Collections at 212.854.4079 or email@example.com.
Prior to donation to Barnard, the collection was split between the homes of Joseph Grannis (Whyatt's brother) and Eric Grannis (Whyatt's nephew).
Donated to the Archives by Frances Whyatt via her family, Joseph Grannis (Whyatt's brother) and Eric Grannis (Whyatt's nephew), 2017.
Archivists removed and destroyed records which contained Whyatt’s Social Security Number, bank account information, and will.
No additions are expected.
This collection was processed by Harris Bauer, Jenny Cheng, Olivija Liepa, and Lizzy Zarate in November 2023, as a part of the New York University course Advanced Archival Description, taught by Martha Tenney. The Finding Aid was written by Bauer, Cheng, Liepa, and Zarate using Describing Archives: A Content Standard with supervision and advice from Martha Tenney.
Initial inventory was created and the collection was rehoused by Barnard Archives staff after donation. Initial correspondence with donors and appraisal of the collection was conducted by Shannon O’Neill.
After grouping files physically within their original legal boxes, materials were arranged into three series based on the information displayed in the initial inventory, such as titles on individual folders, and through cursory exploration of the materials within each folder. After recording the original location of files across all series, the team physically arranged materials into boxes that would hold either “Correspondences” and “Manuscripts”, with a single document box holding “Other materials”. Olivija Liepa and Lizzy Zarate arranged the “Correspondences” and “Other Materials” series. Harris Bauer and Jenny Cheng arranged the “Manuscripts” series.
The archivists would like to note that the titles of one of Whyatt’s published works, American Gypsy, contains a term that we consider to be a slur. The term has historically been associated with anti-Roma discrimination, and the archivists processing this collection do not condone its use in the title of Whyatt’s book.
- Guide to the Frances Whyatt papers
- Harris Bauer, Jenny Cheng, Olivija Liepa, Lizzy Zarate with support from Martha Tenney
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description