New in the Archives: Research and Biography on Edwin Greenlaw

Edwin Greenlaw, ca. 1920s. From the Portrait Collection (P2), NCC Photo Archives.
Edwin Greenlaw, ca. 1920s. From the Portrait Collection (P2), NCC Photo Archives.

A new collection containing correspondence, research, and writings about legendary UNC English professor Edwin Greenlaw is now available in the University Archives.

Greenlaw came to UNC in 1913 during a period of significant expansion and intellectual growth.  Although only here for a dozen years (Greenlaw accepted a job at Johns Hopkins in 1925), he led the English department through a period of rapid change, tripling the number of faculty members, starting a department of Comparative Literature, and helping to found the UNC Press. His legacy on campus is reflected in Greenlaw Hall, still home to the Department of English and Comparative Literature.

Thomas Wolfe, UNC alumnus and author of Look Homeward, Angel and You Can’t Go Home Again, took classes with Greenlaw and credited him as being a major influence on his development as a writer. A fictionalized version of Greenlaw appears in Wolfe’s novel The Web and the Rock.

The collection was compiled by Edwin Greenlaw’s brother Lowell Greenlaw. Lowell Greenlaw woked for years on a biography of his brother, drafts of which are included in the collection. The collection also includes extensive correspondence between Lowell Greenlaw and many of the people who knew and worked with his brother. These materials were carefully preserved by Carter Greenlaw Baker, Ailsie Baker McEnteggart, and Georgia Lowell Baker, the grandchildren of Lowell M. Greenlaw.  Shirley Greenlaw Baker, daughter of Lowell M. Greenlaw, had been the keeper and organizer of the collection until it was donated by her children to UNC-Chapel Hill.

The Lowell Greenlaw Papers on Edwin Greenlaw are a terrific resource for anyone who wants to learn more about this important and influential scholar and teacher and his role in building and shaping the English Department at UNC.

 

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