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Mr. and Mrs. John A. Prince papers


Mr. and Mrs. John A. Prince papers
Prince, Mr. and Mrs. John A.
Collection number:
0.25 linear feet
Bulk dates:
Inclusive dates:
Collection Area:
Literature and Rare Books
Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries, Hornbake Library, College Park, MD 20742. Tel: 301-405-9212, Fax: 301-314-2709, Email:

John Prince (b. 1922) developed friendships with several artists and writers during and after World War II. He received his master's arts degree from the University of Missouri in 1950, and taught there for a brief time. After a career in catering, he entered real estate, a field in which he still works. In 1954, he boarded with Marcella Comes Winslow, a Washington artist and friend of Katherine Anne Porter. Prince met Porter through his association with Winslow and was Porter's neighbor and friend in Georgetown from 1959 to 1962. He and his wife corresponded regularly with her for several years after that. The collection contains correspondence, financial and legal documents, photographs, and published copies of Porter's books.

Important Information for Users of the Collection


This collection is open for research.

Preferred citation:

Mr. and Mrs. John A. Prince papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

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Publication rights:

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.


This collection is PROCESSED.

Historical Note

John Prince was born on November 12, 1922, in Norfolk, Virginia. He began his undergraduate studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before World War II but broke them off to enlist in the Army paratroopers. After the war, he returned to Chapel Hill where he completed his degree in English. Mr. Prince developed friendships with several prominent American writers during and after the war, including Caroline Gordon, Allen Tate, and Eudora Welty. After spending almost a year in England, Prince settled in New York City in 1948. He was employed there until he enrolled in graduate school at the University of Missouri. After receiving his Master of Arts degree in English in 1950, he taught at the university for several years. Discouraged by his low teaching salary, Prince, who had developed an interest in cooking, went to Europe to study at the Cordon Bleu. When he returned to the United States in 1954, he settled in Washington, D.C.

Caroline Gordon had advised Prince to locate in Washington, and she arranged for him to board with Marcella Comés Winslow, a Washington artist with whom Katherine Anne Porter had lived in 1944. Prince began work in catering, through which he met Catherine Graves, whom he married in 1955. Catherine, a graduate of Bryn Mawr, was born on May 26, 1927, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where her father was completing his Ph.D. at Harvard University. He accepted a position at the American Council of Learned Societies after receiving his degree, moving his family to Washington, D.C. Aside from her college years, Catherine Prince has lived the remainder of her life in Washington.

The Princes met Katherine Anne Porter through Marcella Comés Winslow in the 1950s and developed a warm friendship that was nurtured by correspondence and occasional visits. In 1959, Porter moved to the Georgetown section of Washington, where she rented a house near the Princes until 1962.

After the publication of Porter's best-selling novel, Ship of Fools, in April 1962, she decided to settle permanently in Washington, D.C. At her request in late 1963, Mr. Prince acted on her behalf to locate a house for her to purchase. Their friendship abruptly terminated in January 1964 as a result of the subsequent failed real estate transaction. John and Catherine Prince continue to live in Washington, where Mr. Prince remains active in real estate.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Prince papers include materials dating from 1957 to 1978. The collection contains correspondence, photographs, financial records, legal documents, and books relating to the Princes' relationship with Katherine Anne Porter.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

Mr. and Mrs. Prince donated their papers to the University of Maryland at College Park Libraries on December 16, 1982.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Processed by: Michelle DeMartino, October 1996.

Processing note:

When processing of the Princes' papers began in September 1996, the collection was arranged by type of material. The processing consisted mainly of arranging the items chronologically within each series. Four newsclippings about Porter were removed from the collection and discarded, because duplicates of the items can be found in Series VI: Clippings in the Papers of Katherine Anne Porter. All materials were placed in acid-free folders and boxes.

Encoded by:

EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Michael Yates.

Arrangement of Collection

The materials have been divided into four series.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Correspondence, 1957-1978 (30 items)

This series consists of three categories of correspondence. The first portion contains eleven letters and twelve postcards written by Katherine Anne Porter to Mr. and Mrs. Prince between December 8, 1957, and January 10, 1964, that concern their mutual interest in cooking and literature, as well as Miss Porter's travels abroad and in the United States. The second portion includes six letters of Katherine Anne Porter and Allen Tate, to one another and to former United States Attorney General Francis Biddle, regarding Miss Porter's abortive attempt to purchase a residence in Washington, D.C., in early January 1964. The last item is Joan Givner's June 12, 1978, request for information for the biography she was writing of Miss Porter. The series is arranged chronologically.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Correspondence , 1957-1964 series 1box 1folder 1
Correspondence , 1965 series 1box 1folder 2
Correspondence , 1978 series 1box 1folder 3

Series 2: Financial and Legal Documents, 1964-1965 (6 items)

This series contains financial and legal documents concerning the failed January 1964 real estate transaction. Mr. Prince, acting for the firm of H. A. Gill & Son, was the real estate agent. These materials were created between 1964 and 1965 and include a five-page statement by Mr. Prince (1965), outlining his recollections of what transpired in the course of the attempted sale. The series is arranged chronologically.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Financial and Legal Documents, 1964-1965 series 2box 1folder 1

Series 3: Photographs, Photographs (12 items)

This series contains one color slide of Katherine Anne Porter, one black and white photograph of Miss Porter, and a color photograph of Miss Porter with John Prince. There are also nine other color photographs, mainly of one of Miss Porter's cats; these images, inscribed by Miss Porter, date from 1957 to 1958. The series is arranged chronologically.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Lucifer (cat) on couch -- (Color photograph. On verso: "Ole' Posy-Nose out like a light! 21 June 1957."), 21 June 1957 series 3box 1folder 1
Roses in garden -- (Color photograph. On verso: "First two blossoms on the Damask Rose 'Golden Wings[?]' given me in the fall of 1956 by William Maxwell- bloomed in mid-May to July 1957"; "Series 1."), c. May 1957 series 3box 1folder 2
Lucifer (cat) walking outside -- (Color photograph. On verso: "My sweet Lucifer knows at a distance I am trying to take his picture, so he walks towards the camera! July or August 1957."), July or August 1957 series 3box 1folder 3
Lucifer (cat) on chair -- (Color photograph. On verso: "Lucifer/August 1957."), August 1957 series 3box 1folder 4
Lucifer (cat) by flowers -- (Color photograph. On verso: "Lucifer in August 1957."), August 1957 series 3box 1folder 5
Lucifer (cat) on desk with flower -- (Color photograph. On verso: "Lucifer in the work room"/"with a yellow rose that I found in the back garden") , August 1957 series 3box 1folder 6
Lucifer (cat) in armchair -- (Color photograph. On verso: "Lucifer, October 1957 in the Napoleon Troisieme Armchair"), October 1957 series 3box 1folder 7
Hawthorne tree in bloom -- (Color photograph. On recto: "My Hawthorne in bloom Spring 1958."), Spring 1958 series 3box 1folder 8
Three polo players on horseback at the Bronx Hill Farm Polo Field -- (Color photograph. On verso: "Bronx Hill Farm Polo Field, University of Virginia against Warrington Sunday September 28 1958- my first and only polo at the university/too damned busy- K.A.P."), 28 September 1958 series 3box 1folder 9
Katherine Anne Porter and John Prince in front of fireplace -- (Color photograph), undated[circa 25 December 1960] series 3box 1folder 10
Portrait of Katherine Anne Porter at age 23 -- (Black and white photograph. Photograph orignally taken in 1913; this print made in 1961. On verso: "To my dear friend John Prince from the old [friend?] Katherine Anne Porter, 48 years later! 1961/Georgetown- 20 March."]), 1961 [1913] series 3box 1folder 11
Portrait in profile of Katherine Anne Porter -- (Color slide in red frame), undated series 3box 1folder 12

Series 4: Books, 5 items (1959 and undated)

This series contains four copies of foreign language editions of Flowering Judas (two copies of a Bengali translation and two copies of a Tamil translation), and a Greek translation of The Cracked Looking Glass and Other Stories. One of the copies of the Bengali translation of Flowering Judas and the Greek translation were inscribed to the Princes by Miss Porter in 1961. The series is arranged alphabetically by title.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
The Cracked Looking Glass and Other Stories -- (Greek Translation. Inscribed to Mr. and Mrs. Prince, 8 March 1961), undated series 4box 1folder 1
Flowering Judas -- (Bengali translation. Two copies. One copy inscribed to Mr. and Mrs. Prince, 8 March 1961), 1959 series 4box 1folder 2
Flowering Judas -- (Tamil translation. Two copies.), 1959 series 4box 1folder 3

Related Material

Materials related to the Papers of Mr. and Mrs. Prince may be found in Series I: Correspondence of the Papers of Katherine Anne Porter. This series contains personal correspondence between Porter and John and Catherine Prince, between Porter and Allen Tate, and between Porter and Katherine and Francis Biddle. Related materials may also be found within the legal and financial correspondence of Porter between 1960 and 1964. Some of these items duplicate those in the Prince collection, while others mention the failed real estate transaction that terminated the friendship between Porter and the Princes.

Other related materials may be found at Princeton University's Firestone Library which is the repository for the papers of Caroline Gordon and Allen Tate, who were friends of Porter, the Princes, and the Biddles.

For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.

Selected Search Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the University of Maryland Libraries' Catalog. Researchers desiring related materials about these topics, names, or places may search the Catalog using these headings.


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