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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Karlton and William Kelm Papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1931-1986
Creator: Kelm, Karlton (1908-1987)
Extent: 7.00 linear feet.
Collection Number: MSC0637
Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Summary: Story writers, novelists and playwrights who did most writing in collaboration. Karlton published two novels: Brother (1936) and The Cherry Bed (1936). Correspondence with noted writers, drafts of plays, short stories, and novels, and material relating to the Dubuque Dia, a literary magazine.

Access: This collection is open for research.

Use: Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Acquisition: These papers were donated to the University of Iowa Libraries in the 1980s by Karlton Kelm.

Preferred Citation: Karlton and William Kelm Papers, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.

Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Address: Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5921
Curator: Greg Prickman

Karlton Kelm (1908-1987) was born in Portage, Wisconsin. He and his older brother William attended Columbia College (now Loras) in Dubuque, Iowa. Kelm published his first short story on the day he graduated from college. He would go on to publish over fifty short stories and two books. In the 1930s, Kelm and his brother were the editors of their own literary magazine, the Dubuque Dial. Later, moving to New York, they continued to write separately and as a team. Three of their plays made it to the Broadway tryout stage. However, disappointed by what they perceived as a lack of success in playwriting, they quit writing altogether and found other work. William Kelm died in 1953. Karlton Kelm did not return to writing until 1982 when he began again to publish short stories in journals such as theNorth American Review. He died on January 12, 1987.

The papers of Karlton and William Kelm are arranged in four inter-related series, and relate primarily to the literary efforts of the two Kelm brothers. Series one contains correspondence written by and to both Karlton and William Kelm. There are letters from: Edward J. O'Brien, Wilbur Schramm, Jean Toomer, Erling Larsen, Raymond Kresensky, Lee Ver Duft, Meridel Le Sueur, and August Derleth. The next section is made up of the works on which the two brothers collaborated. Series three consists of both manuscripts and the published writings of Karlton Kelm, while the final grouping concerns William's works. Materials relating to their literary magazine, the Dubuque Dial, are found throughout the collection.

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