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Robert Duncan, Letters

Identifier: MS-0186

Scope and Contents

Letter from Robert Duncan to Melvin Lyon about a work in progress.


  • Creation: 1971, Nov. 12


Conditions Governing Access

The letter is open for research.

Biographical / Historical

Robert Duncan was born on January 7, 1919 in Oakland, California as Edward Howard Duncan Jr. His mother died during childbirth, and his father was unable to afford him, which lead to Duncan’s adoption in 1920 by Edwin and Minnehaha Symmes. The couple were strong Theosophists and decided on his adoption after consulting horoscopes and astrological charts relating to his birth. His exposure to the occult later informed and inspired some of his writing. He began studying at the University of California, Berkley after the death of his adopted father and started to write poetry. Duncan developed a reputation as a bohemian and only briefly attended Black Mountain College in 1938. He was a student of H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) who is mentioned in this letter. He went through a number of relationships, both male and female, during the 1940s. During this time period he played a significant role in gay culture, especially with his publication of "The Homosexual in Society." He achieved many artistic successes as a poetry writer living in San Francisco during the 1960s. In 1988, Duncan passed away after a long struggle with kidney disease.


0.01 Linear Feet (1 folder)

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Repository Details

Part of the Archives & Special Collections, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries Repository

Archives & Special Collections
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries
P.O. Box 884100
Lincoln NE 68588-4100 United States