Collection ID: LMC 2690
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Collection context


Weaver, William Fense, Eco, Umberto, and Morante, Elsa, approximately 1912-1985
The Weaver, W. mss. II, 1833-2006, consists of the correspondence, writings, research, photographs, and teaching materials pertaining to the life and work of literary critic and translator William Weaver, 1923-2013.
27 Boxes
Materials are in English and Italian .
Preferred citation:

[Item], Weaver, W. mss. II, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.


Biographical / Historical:

William Weaver, 1923-2003, was an American literary translator and critic. Weaver was born on July 24, 1923 in Washington, D.C. to Henry Byrne and Beatrice Weaver. He graduated summa cum laude with his BA from Princeton University in 1946. Weaver withdrew from Princeton in good standing on November 16, 1942 in order to enter the Armed Forces of the United States, where he served as an ambulance driver in North Africa and Italy during World War II. He continued to live primarily in Italy after the end of the war. Prior to conducting his postgraduate work at the University of Rome in 1949, Weaver was an English instructor at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville.

In the years to follow, he would produce several English translations for Italian works such as Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose and Baudolino, Italo Calvino's Cosmicomics, Primo Levi's If Not Now, When?, Italo Svevo's Zeno's Conscience, Alberto Moravia and Alain Elkann's Life of Moravia, Elsa Morante's History: A Novel, and many others. His awards for literary translation include The Lewis Galantiere Prize, the National Book Award for Translation, the PEN/Book–of–the–Month Club Translation Prize, and the John Florio Prize.

Weaver is also known for his work on opera and Eleonora Duse. He produced works such as Verdi Librettos, Puccini Librettos, Seven Verdi Librettos, and Seven Puccini Librettos, as well as providing single libretto translations for live performances. A well-known opera critic, Weaver wrote opera reviews for the Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, and Panorama; he was also a speaker on Texaco-sponsored Saturday afternoon opera broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera House. Among his several biographies and opera histories are Duse: A Biography, The Golden Century of Italian Opera from Rossini to Puccini, The Verdi Companion, Verdi: A Documentary Study, and A Legacy of Excellence, The Story of Villa I Tatti.

Later in his life, Weaver delivered many lectures and conducted translating workshops and courses at several American and Italian institutions, including Princeton, Yale, Pisa, Duke, Oxford, and the University of Rome. He was a professor of literature and a Bard Center Fellow at Bard College in New York. He was known by his students for being a generous host of class get-togethers at his house, where he would cook delicious meals. (A copy of Weaver's Joy of Cooking with his annotations is included in his book collection.) Honorary degrees were awarded to Weaver from the University of Leicester in the UK, and Trinity College in Connecticut. He died on November 12, 2013.

Scope and Content:

Correspondents include: Umberto Eco, Elsa Morante, Darryl Pinckney, Ned Rorem, Winston Silcott, Darina Silone, as well as correspondence with publishers, institutions, and organizations.

Writings includes the following subseries: Fiction, Non-Fiction, Translations, Lectures, and Writings not by Weaver. Within each of these subseries are edited typescripts, edited galley proofs, and research materials.

Articles and Clippings includes both articles by Weaver and articles about him taken from a variety of publications. This series also includes book reviews and materials pertaining to the controversy surrounding Italian author Ignazio Silone.

The Diaries series includes Weaver's diaries from 1943 to 1993, as well as undated diaries and diaries pertaining to the translation of Umberto Eco's The Island of the Day Before. The Address Books series also includes a few of Weaver's address books.

The Photographs series includes photographs of members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Leonard Bernstein, Maria Callas, Charles Clarke, Aaron Copland, Charles Darden, Elvira Green, Giuseppe Patroni Griffi, Jarmilla Novotna, Bidu Sayao, William Weaver, and the Weaver family. The Framed Items series also includes photographs, as well as several documents relating to Weaver's enrollment at Princeton University.

The Opera Programs series includes programs for several operas, including Aida, Don Carlo, Macbeth, Rigoletto, and La Traviata. Many of the program's contain Weaver's notes.

Bard Course Materials includes correspondence and miscellaneous materials pertaining to Weaver's time as a professor of literature at Bard College in New York.

Honors and Awards consists primarily of materials relating to the P.E.N. American Center's Renato Poggioli Translation Award.

The Audio/Visual Materials series consists of selections of Weaver's writings and interviews with Weaver.

The Miscellaneous Items series includes various notes and papers, materials relating to Weaver's trip to Japan in the 1990s, and a yellow sweater that belonged to Weaver.

Books in the collection are catalogued in IUCAT.

Acquisition information:
Acquired: 2009
Processing information:

Processed by staff.


The collection is organized into the following series: I. Correspondence; II. Writings; III. Articles and Clippings; IV. Diaries; V. Photographs; VI. Opera Programs; VII. Bard Course Materials; VIII. Honors and Awards; IX. Address Books; X. Audio/Visual Materials; XI. Miscellaneous Items; XII. Framed Items.

Physical location:
ALF (Auxiliary Library Facility)



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[Item], Weaver, W. mss. II, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.

Indiana University Bloomington
1200 East Seventh Street
Bloomington, Indiana 47405-5500, USA
Indiana University Bloomington
(812) 855-2452