Cawein, Madison Julius Added Papers, 1893-1944

Held by The Filson Historical Society

Creator:  Cawein, Madison Julius, 1865-1914

Title:  Added papers, 1893-1944 (bulk: 1893-1911)

Rights: For information regarding literary and copyright interest for these papers, contact the Curator of Special Collections.

Size of Collection:  1 cu. ft.

Location Number:  Mss. A C383c

Scope and Content Note

The Madison Julius Cawein added papers document the life and literary career of a Louisville poet.  Correspondence in the collection documents the friendship and collaboration between Madison Cawein and Eric Pape, who often illustrated Cawein’s poetic work.  Details about the business side of poetry, especially the interaction between Cawein, his agents, and the publishing industry are also present in the collection.  There are frequent references to difficulties the pair faced in the publication of their work, in particular the publication of “Ode”.  Cawein’s personal struggles with his finances and depression are also documented.  Cawein’s family life is detailed in his correspondence, as well as the letters of his wife, Gertrude, who writes about her social life, travel plans, and her own artistic pursuits.  Additional correspondence includes letters Cawein received from other noted literary figures of the time, which he gifted to Pape.  Also included are manuscripts of Cawein’s “Kentucky Poems” that were given by Cawein to Eric Pape.  Manuscripts of other works are also present, including several written while he was visiting Pape in Annisquam, Massachusetts.  The remainder of the collection includes a few literary works by some of Cawein’s contemporaries, a copy of a poem written by Gertrude Cawein, and miscellaneous material.

Folders 1-2 contain correspondence from Madison Cawein to Eric Pape from 1905-1914.  The letters document their collaboration on the publication of Cawein’s poems (often illustrated by Pape’s artwork), and the difficulties the pair faced in getting works published or selling those that were printed.  Pape’s artistic works are mentioned, including a portrait Pape did of Gertrude Cawein (part of The Filson’s portrait collection, 1988.9).  Cawein’s correspondence also touches on the lives and social circles of their families.  There are references to Cawein’s financial difficulties and his personal and business travel.    After the 1912 stock market crash, Cawein’s letters communicate his despair with his finances and his struggles with depression.  He threatens suicide multiple times.

Folder 3 contains correspondence from Gertrude Cawein to Eric Pape and his wife, Alice Monroe Pape.  Gertrude corresponds about her social life, her trip to Europe, her own writings, and her plans to organize a pageant in Louisville.

Folders 4-5 consist of correspondence written to Madison and Gertrude Cawein.  Many letters in these folders consist of compliments to Cawein on his recent works, comments and criticism of his poetry, and the exchange of works.  Correspondents include other noted poets and writers of the time, including Bliss Carman, Edgar Fawcett, William Dean Howells, Harrison Smith Morris, James Whitcomb Riley, Edmund Clarence Stedman, Henry Van Dyke, and Charles Dudley Warner among others.

Folder 6 contains correspondence from the 1940s regarding this collection of Cawein papers in the possession of Pape.

Folders 7-26 contain the writings of Cawein and others.  There are manuscripts for Cawein’s Kentucky Poems as well as several of his other works.  There are also a few literary works by some of Cawein’s contemporaries and a copy of a poem written by Gertrude Cawein.

Folder 27 contains miscellaneous materials and newspaper clippings.  Clippings relate to the unveiling of the bust of Madison Cawein at the Louisville Free Public Library and a biographical account of his life.  There is also a program featuring some of Cawein’s works, and a list of his publications.

Books acquired with this manuscript collection have been separated and added to the Filson library; many were inscribed by the author to Cawein, and then re-inscribed by Cawein to Eric Pape.


Biographical Note

Madison Cawein (1865-1914) was a poet from Louisville, Kentucky.  Cawein was the son of William Cawein, an herbalist, and Christiana Stelsly.  He spent his childhood years around Brownsboro, Kentucky and New Albany, Indiana where he spent much time in the outdoors.  He was greatly influenced by Reuben Post Halleck, a teacher of literature and psychology at Louisville Male High School, who inspired him to be a poet.  After graduating from Male High School in 1886, Cawein worked in a local poolroom.  He spent his spare time roaming the neighboring woods and writing poetry.

His first book, “Blooms of the Berry” was published in 1887.  Through careful saving and investing of his money, he freed his whole time for writing by 1892.  Cawein published 36 volumes of poetry during his lifetime and found much of his inspiration from the landscapes of the Louisville area. Louisville’s parks and the Indiana Knobs were the chief settings for many of his poems.  Cawein’s work “The Wasteland” (1913) likely influenced T.S. Elliot’s poem of the same name (1922).

Cawein married Gertrude Foster McKelvey in 1903.  They had a son, Preston Hamilton (b. 1904), whose name was changed to Madison Cawein II in 1917.  Although he was a well-respected poet, Cawein found himself in dire financial straits just prior to World War I.  The responsibility of a family, the expenses accrued by a lavish lifestyle, the mortgage on his elegant house on St. James Court, and his own poor health, all combined to contribute to his death in 1914.  Cawein is buried in Cave Hill Cemetery.

From: The Encyclopedia of Louisville. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2001.


Folder List


Folder 1: Correspondence, Madison Cawein to Eric Pape, 1905-1908

Folder 2: Correspondence, Madison Cawein to Eric Pape, 1909-1914

Folder 3: Correspondence, Gertrude Cawein to Eric & Alice Pape, 1908-1917

Folder 4: Correspondence to Madison Cawein, 1893-1903

Folder 5: Correspondence to Madison & Gertrude Cawein, 1905-1911

Folder 6: Correspondence regarding Pape collection on Cawein, 1943-1944


Folder 7: Kentucky Poems manuscripts, 1902, 1911

Folder 8: Kentucky Poems manuscripts, 1902

Folder 9: Kentucky Poems manuscripts, 1902

Folder 10: Kentucky Poems manuscripts, 1902

Folder 11: Kentucky Poems manuscripts, 1902

Folder 12: Kentucky Poems manuscripts, 1902

Folder 13: Kentucky Poems manuscripts, 1902

Folder 14: Kentucky Poems manuscripts, 1902

Folder 15: Kentucky Poems manuscripts, 1902

Folder 16: The Poems of Madison Cawein, Of Harp and Pipe, Volume 5 typescript for Pape, circa 1904

Folder 17: Index to Poems of Madison Cawein, alphabetical, circa 1907

Folder 18: Ode (Gloucester Memorial Monument Dedication) by Madison Cawein, 1907

Folder 19: Annisquam Poems by Madison Cawein, 1908

Folder 20: The Garden of Shadows [The Shadow Garden], 1909

Folder 21: The Witch: A Miracle manuscript by Madison Cawein, 1909

Folder 22: Dedications to Alice Monroe Pape by Madison Cawein, 1911

Folder 23: Whatever the Path, by Madison Cawein, 1913

Folder 24: Gertrude Cawein poetry, (Beloved, If Tonight-), 1908

Folder 25: Poetry by Others [Anne Abbott, Henry Van Dyke], 1908-1911, undated.

Folder 26: The House of Rimmon, play by Henry Van Dyke.


Folder 27: News clippings and miscellaneous, 1909, 1913, circa 1917/1918, 1921, 1929.


Subject Headings

American poetry


Authors and publishers

Booksellers and bookselling

Carman, Bliss, 1861-1929

Cawein, Gertrude, 1873-1918

Clothing and dress – Kentucky

Europe – Description and travel

Fawcett, Edgar, 1847-1904

Finance – Personal

Greeting cards

Howells, William Dean, 1837-1920

Kentucky – Description and travel

Louisville (Ky.) – Social life and customs

Literary agents

Marital conflict

Mental illness

Morris, Harrison S. (Harrison Smith), 1856-1948

Monuments – Massachusetts

New York – Description and travel

Pape, Alice Monroe, d. 1911

Pape, Eric, b. 1870


Poets, American – Kentucky – Correspondence

Riley, James Whitcomb, 1849-1916

Stedman, Edmund Clarence, 1833-1908


Van Dyke, Henry, 1852-1933

Warner, Charles Dudley, 1829-1900

Woman’s Club of Louisville (Louisville, Ky.)

Women – Societies and clubs

Women poets