Skip to Content

Panna Grady Collection

 Collection
Identifier: PCMS-0081
The Panna Grady Collection, 1950-2015 (bulk 1960-1970), consists chiefly of correspondence, including letters from William Burroughs, Diane Di Prima, Ed Dorn, Allen Ginsberg, Barbara Guest, Michael Hamburger, Herbert Huncke, Charles Olson, and John Wieners. The collection also contains a number of photographs of Panna with John Wieners and with Charles Olson; a script for a play by Jack Micheline and an annotated manuscript of Revolutionary Letters by Diane Di Prima; an annotated and inscribed broadside, "Hart Crane, Harry Crosby, I See You Going Over the Edge," by John Wieners; and books inscribed to Panna. Panna donated Philip O'Connor's archives to Leed University, but some materials related to his work are included, such as letters from Stephen Spender and a bibliography of O'Connor's work. This collection documents through correspondence Panna's connection to and financial support of writers in New York and London primarily in the 1960s. The letters also reveal the relationships among writers, including collaborations and interactions with each other. Within the series on Correspondence is a file on Parties, which details the elaborate parties given by Panna at her Dakota Building apartment through guest lists, invitations, and responses.

Dates

  • 1950-2015
  • Majority of material found within 1960-1970

Creator

Language of Materials

English

Terms of Access and Use

The Panna Grady Collection, 1950-2015 (bulk 1960-1970), is open for research.

Copyright

Copyright of papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright and the Poetry Collection before requesting photocopies and/or publishing quotations from materials in the collection. Once permission is obtained, most papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures unless otherwise specified.

Extent

4 Linear Feet (6 manuscript boxes, 1 oversize box)

Overview

Panna Grady O'Connor was a patron of writers, primarily poets. Throughout the early to mid-1960s she befriended various writers in New York. After brief relationships with John Wieners and Charles Olson, Panna met Philip O'Connor, with whom she maintained a relationship for over 30 years, until his death in 1998. Shortly after meeting, they moved to France, where Panna still resides. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Panna was known for her parties and her generosity toward poets. The Panna Grady Collection, 1950-2015 (bulk 1960-1970), consists chiefly of correspondence, including letters from William Burroughs, Diane Di Prima, Ed Dorn, Allen Ginsberg, Barbara Guest, Michael Hamburger, Herbert Huncke, Charles Olson, and John Wieners. The collection also contains a number of photographs of Panna with John Wieners and with Charles Olson; a script for a play by Jack Micheline and an annotated manuscript of Revolutionary Letters by Diane Di Prima; an annotated and inscribed broadside, "Hart Crane, Harry Crosby, I See You Going Over the Edge," by John Wieners; and books inscribed to Panna. Panna donated Philip O'Connor's archives to Leed University, but some materials related to his work are included, such as letters from Stephen Spender and a bibliography of O'Connor's work. This collection documents through correspondence Panna's connection to and financial support of writers in New York and London primarily in the 1960s. The letters also reveal the relationships among writers, including collaborations and interactions with each other. Within the series on Correspondence is a file on Parties, which details the elaborate parties given by Panna at her Dakota Building apartment through guest lists, invitations, and responses.

Historical Note

Panna Grady O'Connor was born Louise Marie de Cholnoky in 1936 to Louise Marie St. John, an heiress and poet who died at the age of 38, and Dr. Tibor de Cholnoky, a Hungarian doctor. The family lived in Greenwich, CT. Panna—the name a Hungarian diminutive used to distinguish her from her mother—attended Abbot Academy (now Phillips Academy in Andover) from 1951 to 1954. She enrolled at Wellesley for a year, where she studied with Philip Booth, kindling an interest in literature, before leaving for the University of California, Berkeley. In Berkeley she was introduced to the San Francisco beat scene, and in her house on Mosswood Lane she began what she would come to be most well-known for: Throwing parties attended by overlapping literary and artistic circles. According to Andrew Barrow in Quentin and Philip: A Double Portrait, her first party was organized by William Stine, attended by Allen Ginsberg and had as guest of honor Stephen Spender.

She graduated from UC Berkeley in 1959 with a degree in Psychology, though she also studied literature. She had spent her junior year at Columbia University in the School of General Studies and returned to New York after graduation to study acting at the Berkhof School. In an interview1, Panna indicated that there were so many girls who wanted to act that she decided to get involved behind the camera instead, working with sound, bringing her into further contact with New York underground writers, artists, and filmmakers. She married the poet and playwright Jim Grady and in 1963 had a daughter, Ella. The marriage did not last, and Panna moved with Ella into a large apartment in the Dakota building, where she gave her famous parties and where Andy Warhol filmed Poor Little Rich Girl with Edie Sedgwick.

Throughout the early to mid-1960s Panna continued to befriend writers in New York. Through Robert Lowell she met William Burroughs, with whom she became enamored and felt a particular kinship due to their similar social backgrounds1. The two never dated but continued their friendship. Panna had a relationship with John Wieners, which, though brief, appears to have had a strong effect on him. It ended abruptly in 1966, with Wieners in Buffalo and Panna in London with Charles Olson and Ella, taking up residence at Hanover Place. Panna continued her tradition of hosting writers and artists, with Allen Ginsberg staying for a time in the guest house. The relationship with Olson ended not long after the move to London, and in 1967 Panna met Philip O'Connor, with whom she maintained a relationship for over 30 years, until his death in 1998. Shortly after meeting, they moved to France, where they had two children, Maxim and Felix, and where Panna still resides.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Panna was known not only for her parties but for her generosity toward writers, particularly poets. She funded publications as well as made personal loans because she felt that writers were not paid as if writing were a career. She wanted to support working writers. In particular, she paid to publish Herbert Hunke's journal and helped finance Ed Sanders' Fuck You. She also supported O'Connor throughout their partnership. The correspondence in this collection is full of letters from writers asking for and thanking her for loans, revealing decades of patronage. She has remarked, "I had as much as Peggy Guggenheim to start with but Peggy Guggenheim bought paintings and I paid for books to be published."2

1 Interview with the archivist, June 23, 2016

2 Quentin and Philip: A Double Portrait, Andrew Barrow (Macmillan, 2002)

Arrangement

This collection is arranged in five series:
  1. Correspondence, 1955-2015
  2. Photographs, 1950-1996
  3. Philip O'Connor, 1987-1994
  4. Manuscripts, 1957-1968
  5. Printed Material, 1955-2002

Acquisition Information

Donated to the Poetry Collection in 2015 and 2016.

Accruals

No further accruals are expected to this collection.

Separated Materials

Some items were moved to the Poetry Collection's monographs and periodicals collections. These items may be located by searching the catalog for the Panna Grady Collection.

Processing Information

Processed by Marie Elia, 2016.

Creator

Title
Finding aid for the Panna Grady Collection, 1950-2015 (bulk 1960-1970)
Status
completed
Author
Finding aid prepared by Marie Elia.
Date
2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
eng

Repository Details

Part of the The Poetry Collection Repository

Contact:
420 Capen Hall
Buffalo New York 14260-1674 US
716-645-2917
716-645-3714 (Fax)