Finding aid prepared by Megan Mummey
Thomas Merton correspondence
University of Kentucky Special Collections
Collection is arranged by format.
Housed with multiple collections.
Collection is open to researchers by appointment.
2012MS039: [identification of item], Thomas Merton correspondence, 1967, University of Kentucky Special Collections.
0.1 Cubic feet
Thomas Merton, the son of two artists, was born in 1915. He attended Columbia University in New York, obtaining B.A. and M.A. degrees. In 1938 he converted to Catholicism and in December 1941 joined the Trappist monks. Merton served as Master of Scholastics and as Master of Novices at the order's monastery in Kentucky, Our Lady of Gethsemani, before being allowed to live as a hermit in 1965. A prolific writer, Merton won acclaim for his books, poems and articles, beginning with the publication of the autobiographical Seven Storey Mountain in 1948. Merton often circulated his writings among his acquaintances for criticism before publication. Among this group from 1951 to 1968 were Carolyn and Victor Hammer of Lexington, Ky., and the then director of the University of Kentucky libraries, Lawrence Thompson. In the 1960s he was known for his concerns about social issues such as peace and civil rights. He also promoted ecumenism between Catholics, other Christians, and non-Christians. He died on December 10, 1968, of accidental electrocution while at a conference in Bangkok, Thailand.
The collection consists of two letters exchanged between Thomas Merton and writer Walter Lowenfels. Lowenfels' letter mentions an enclosed poem (not present) and Merton's letter includes two enclosed poems Hopeless and Felons and A Round and a Hope for Smithgirls.