Walter Snow Papers
Scope and Content
The Walter Snow Papers contain the surviving manuscripts of Walter Snow (both published and unpublished). These works include short stories, journalistic articles, correspondence, poems, novels, and plays. Most of Snow's surviving correspondence relates to his attempts to get his works published. The bulk of the remaining correspondence contains information about Snow's involvement with The Anvil, which he edited with Jack Conroy and others in the early 1930s. The collection also contains notes, outlines, and print ephemera. This collection contains extensive materials prior to 1940 and for the period from 1956 until his death in 1973. In the early 1930s, Snow began a project on the textile industry in southern New England. While he never finished the novel, the notes on the textile mills may be of use to scholars interested in textile mills during this period.
- undated, 1926-1973
The collection is open and available for research.
Restrictions on Use
Permission to publish from these Papers must be obtained in writing from the owner(s) of the copyright.
Walter Snow (1905-1973) was a pulp fiction writer, mystery novelist, socialist essayist, and newspaper journalist. He spent much of his early life attempting to fulfill his ambition of becoming a great proletariat writer. Snow became, instead, a successful journalist, a prolific writer of adventure and detective stories, and of realistic short fiction. Snow's writing style is characterized by his ability to bring his characters to life. When writing as a journalist, Snow utilized his ability as a detailed storyteller to illuminate the nature of the person he was writing about. Snow was alternately published under the pen names Chris Graham in his early pulp fiction writings as well as Robert Clark in his socialist essays.
Snow was born on 19 February 1905 in Gardner, Massachusetts, to Robert O. Snow and Emma Groszmann. Growing up, Snow attended schools in both Connecticut and Massachusetts. He graduated from South Hadley, Massachusetts High School in 1921. Snow was part of the fifth generation of his family to work as a laborer. Snow began working in the American Thread Company textile mills of South Hadley, Massachusetts, during the summer of 1920. Following high school, Snow worked in Willimantic, Connecticut, at the American Thread Company. From 1921 until 1924, Snow held a variety of positions such as jag boy, thread carrier, Order's Department "chaser", and as Works Department timekeeper and clerk. He was laid off during the retrenchment just before the six-month 1925 strike.
Snow witnessed strikers evicted from their company-owned housing; left to freeze on the roadside of Route 6 during the winter months. National Guardsmen called in and compensated by the mill owners, treated strikers in some cases violently. With the help of a loosely formed union, strikers were able to return to their homes and avoid starvation and death. By working in the mills and witnessing the mistreatment of workers like him, Snow experienced inadequate working conditions, which inspired his social activism and fostered his socialist viewpoints. Following his time working at American Thread, Snow moved to New York City. Upon arriving in New York, he went to work as a stagehand and scene painter for the Providence Playhouse in Greenwich Village under Eugene O'Neil. He also married his first wife, Edith, in 1926.
During the 1920s-1930s, Snow lived primarily in New York City. From 1925-1930, Snow was a police reporter and rewrite man. Throughout the 1930s, Snow worked primarily as a reporter for The Home News reviewing films and plays. Associated with the New York Rebel Poets, Snow began writing prose and poetry for magazines following the Sacco-Vanzetti executions in 1927. He met and worked with contempoJack Conroy and Philip Rahv, who advocated workers rights and socialist attitudes. From the late 1920s to the early 1930s, Snow was actively involved with the Communist party and John Reed Club. In the middle of the 1930s, Snow ceased active involvement in the party and club, but continued his literary involvement in the movement. With Conroy, Snow served as a co-editor of The Anvil until it merged with Rahv's Partisan Review. His articles were also featured in New Masses and International Literature. He served as a volunteer organizer for the Newspaper Guild and the American Labor party toward the end of the 1930s. During this period, Snow moved from New York City to Chaplin, CT, then Willimantic, CT, and by the end of the 1930s was again living in New York City.
Despite numerous attempts to make their marriage a success, Snow was no longer married to his wife Edith by the beginning of World War II. Snow served in the military in Georgia during World War II in 1943. It is unclear how long he was active in the armed forces. Snow wrote sparingly during this decade.
Following World War II, Snow left New York and returned to Connecticut. Snow eventually met Flora Huffman whom he would marry and remain married to for the duration of his life. He had a daughter and a stepson, Maurice Isserman. In the early the 1950s, Snow was primarily writing for the pulp fiction market. Snow was published in pulp fiction magazines including Gang World, Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, Short Stories, and Suspect Detective Stories. Seven of his mysteries were anthologized in six hardcover and three paperback books including 1951's 20 Great Tales of Murder, and 1970's With Malice Towards All. Snow wrote two mystery novels, 1952's The Golden Nightmare, and 1972's The Gauguin Murders (unpublished). His final work The Glory and the Shame, a collection of his poetry from 1927-1972, was published in 1973.
While never abandoning writing fiction, by the middle of the 1960s, Snow was making a transition back to journalism. Snow started working as a free-lance correspondent for the Willimantic Chronicle. He continued to work in a variety of positions for the Chronicle until his retirement in 1973. Snow was a correspondent who covered the Connecticut General Assembly, a part-time reviewer of plays at the University of Connecticut, as well as the paper's editor, a position that his father once held. Snow was a member of the Laurel Club>, which is an organization of legislative correspondents. He was known as a conscientious newsman who was deeply interested in civil rights and the human condition.
Walter Snow died in 1973.
7.5 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
The papers include the correspondence, short stories, journalistic articles, correspondence, poems, novels, and plays of journalist, essayist, novelist and pulp fiction writer, Walter Snow.
Series I: Biographical Material (undated, 1930-1973) includes portions of Snow's journal, notebook, and an extensive collection of biographical information that Snow gave to editors. Obituaries and articles written about Snow are also contained in this series. Finally, this series contains information about the merger of The Anvil and Partisan Review from Snow and Jack Conroy.
Series II: Correspondence (undated, 1927-1930, 1971-1973) contains surviving correspondence not filed with published works. The bulk of the correspondence was with fellow writers and/or editors including Hayden Carruth, Jack Conroy, Seymour Ponds, and A.H. Sinks.
Series III: Journalistic Work (undated, 1927-1941, 1959-1973) is divided into manuscripts and clippings of published works. The bulk of the manuscripts are articles submitted to publications such as The Anvil. The earliest clippings are film and drama reviews for The Home News. Starting in 1959, Snow returned to journalism. He wrote reviews of plays at the University of Connecticut as well as travel pieces, which are also evidenced in the clippings.
Series IV: Fictional Works (undated, 1928-1973) encompasses primarily typed manuscripts of Snow's novels, plays, and poetry. It includes not only the written works, but also any notes and correspondence relevant to Snow's writings.
Series V: Short Fiction (undated, 1928-1933, 1941-1970) includes typed manuscripts of Snow's short stories with notes and correspondence. Writing for mostly pulp publications, short stories are the most extensive genre of fiction in which Snow wrote. The items are order chronologically by place of residence as indicated by Snow and then by date.
Series V: Notes (undated, 1926-1972) contains outlines and notes by Snow for potential works. It also contains some analysis of works of fiction by other writers.
Series VI: Ephemera (undated, circa 1930-1973) includes a wide variety of materials. The bulk of this series contains newspaper clippings written by others. It also contains typed manuscripts of three stories for The Anvil by other authors that were possibly edited by Snow.
Series VII: Pulp Literature (1931-1968) contains published copies of Snow's work. These items are very fragile and access is at the Curator's discretion.
Eric Carlson, a friend of Snow and professor of English at the University of Connecticut, organized the papers originally. In 1981, staff reorganized pieces of the collection and created the original finding aid.
The materials in this collection were donated shortly after Walter Snow's death in 1973.
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- A Guide to the Walter Snow Papers
- Archives & Special Collections staff
- 2006 May
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