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Merton's Correspondence with:

John Beecher; Barbara Beecher; Beecher, Barbara

Beecher, John, 1904-1980  printer


Descriptive Summary

Record Group: Section A - Correspondence
Dates of materials: 1963-1966
Volume: 4 item(s); 7 pg(s)

Scope and Content

This exchange of letters, two from Merton and two from John Beecher, gives an account of the opposition that authors on civil rights, non-violence, and social reforms faced in the 1960's from within the Church and in secular society. Beecher struggled with the Jesuit administration of Santa Clara University around the time Merton's work on nuclear war was banned, while both speak with a positive voice about the future of the Church.


John Beecher was a poet whose works often expressed social concerns such as civil rights, non-violence, and workers' rights. During the 1960's, his work on the publication Ramparts got him dubbed a "Communist" by Governor George Wallace of Alabama, which Beecher claimed was an "honor". He would return to Alabama, where he claimed the KKK wanted him dead, in 1966 to serve as a visiting professor at Miles College, a traditionally black institution. He and his wife Barbara were received back to the Catholic Church in 1965, and he describes the changes in the Church in Birmingham since his boyhood days there. He and Barbara were also art printers, and Merton approached them to do specialty additions of some of his work.

Usage Guidelines and Restrictions

Please click here for general restrictions concerning Merton's correspondence.

Related Information and Links

See published letter from Merton in Witness to Freedom, p. 97.

Series List

This Record Sub-Group is not divided into Series and is arranged chronologically.

Container List

#DateFrom/ToFirst LinesPub ✓Notes
 y/m/dMerton Scan ✉ 
1. 1963/01/29 TL[c] from Merton Many thanks for the fine and beautifully printed poem about the Cistercian Breviary: done with your The Merton Reader / printing project for Merton's translations of poems by Raissa Maritain and a "selection of 'versions' from Chuang Tzu" / "unpublishable book on war" and told to stop writing about nuclear war / Breakthrough to Peace / rights of the Indian / violation of treaty with the Senecas «detailed view»
2. 1964/04/24 TAL[c] from Merton You know that for a long time I have been cooking up a printing project for your press. I am still working on Chuang Tzu / "J" [Laughlin] / "Message to Poets" and "Art and Freedom" for a pamphlet - can't be a book and upset Farrar Straus / John Beecher's book of poems / "beautifully printed little thing" from the Benedictine Nuns of Stanbrook in England «detailed view»
3. 1966/01/02 TALS to Merton Why I address you thus instead of as Dear Tom you will understand when I reveal to you that Barbara John and Barbara's return to the Catholic Church / writer's block from U.S. racial problems and Vietnam War / resignation from Santa Clara University professorship / Selma-Montgomery March / called Communist by Governor Wallace on TV / Ku Klux Klan / killer of Jonathan Daniels trials / Cuernavaca - Ernesto Cardenal «detailed view»
4. 1966/03/17 TLS to Merton It was a great lift to the spirit to find in our mail your note and the preface to Redeeming Redeeming the Time / plans to teach at Miles College in Birmingham / Ku Klux Klan out to get him / the Church's progress in Birmingham / Byzantine rite English liturgy with Fr. Joseph Raya / writing autobiography «detailed view»

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