MS Am 2604
Raisbeck, Kenneth. Kenneth Raisbeck papers, 1916-1938: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 USA
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Location: Harvard Depository
Call No.: MS Am 2604
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Creator: Raisbeck, Kenneth.
Title: Kenneth Raisbeck papers,
Quantity: 1 collection (.5 linear feet (1 box)
Language of materials: English and French.
Abstract: Papers of American playwright Kenneth Raisbeck.
No accession number. Donor unknown; received: circa 1949? Materials probably belonged to Marjorie C. Fairbanks. Note in papers indicates donor
information in letter of January 19, 1949 from A. Priest, (probably Alan Reed Priest, Harvard A.B. 1920), but this letter has not been located as of April 2008.
2015M-94. Item (19a): Gift of Diane Walton; received: 2015 December 22.
Processed by: Bonnie B. Salt
There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.
This collection is not housed at the Houghton Library but is shelved offsite at the
Harvard Depository. Retrieval requires advance notice. Readers should check with Houghton
Public Services staff to determine what material is offsite and retrieval policies
Kenneth Raisbeck Papers, 1916-1938 (MS Am 2604). Houghton Library, Harvard University.
Kenneth Romaver-Ron Raisbeck (1899-1931) was born in Odell, Illinois, the youngest
of nine children. He graduated from Bloomington High School in Bloomington, Illinois
(Class of 1916) and Harvard College (Class of 1920, A.B. 1921). While at Harvard,
Raisbeck was an assistant to (and later a good friend of) George Pierce Baker for his 47 Workshop play writing course and a close friend of American novelist Thomas Wolfe, whom he
met in 1920. Raisbeck was said to be openly homosexual while at Harvard. In 1926,
Raisbeck toured Paris with Wolfe and other friends, Marjorie Crocker Fairbanks (Mrs. Sydney Fairbanks) and Miss Helen Harding. At some point Wolfe and Raisbeck had an argument and continued their trips separately.
Wolfe and Raisbeck never saw each other again.
Raisbeck became a playwright and screenwriter and lived in various locations in the
United States. As a close friend of G. P. Baker, he spent time at Baker's summer home
in New Hampshire. His plays consisted of Torches (1923), Rock Me, Julie which played for two weeks on Broadway in New York City (1931), and The lady of [in?] Spain which was never produced. Late in the 1920s he worked on screenplay scenarios in Hollywood
and in 1931 he came East again. He was found dead in a Westport, Connecticut cemetery
on September 30, 1931; the cause of death developed into a controversy but many said
he was murdered by strangulation. The killer was never found.
Raisbeck was the model for the character Frank Starwick in Wolfe's second autobiographical
novel, Of time and the river.
Marjorie Crocker Fairbanks was a close friend of Raisbeck, and for a time, the wife
of Sydney Fairbanks. Sydney Van Kleek Fairbanks (1895-1985, Harvard (Class of 1917)
A.B. 1920, JD 1925, AM 1933, PhD 1936) was the founder of the Harvard Poetry Society,
a playwright, and author and former attaché to the Italian Ambassador. Austen Crocker
Fairbanks was their child.
Biographical information taken from: Wolfe, Thomas, 1900-1938. The Starwick episodes; edited, with an introduction by Richard S. Kennedy. Akron, Ohio: Thomas Wolfe Society,
Organized into the following three series:
- I. Correspondence with Kenneth Raisbeck
- II. Compositions by Kenneth Raisbeck
- III. Other materials
Papers include: letters from Raisbeck to his friend, Marjorie Crocker Fairbanks, and
her husband Sydney Fairbanks, and child Austen Fairbanks; a few letters from Marjorie
Fairbanks to Raisbeck; drafts of Raisbeck's plays: The lady of Spain. A play in four acts and Rock me, Julie! A play in three acts; extensive clippings concerning his death and the police investigation and scandal
that ensued, and other materials.
This collection is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. See access restrictions
below for additional information.
- Series: I. Correspondence with Kenneth Raisbeck
- (1). Fairbanks, Austen Crocker, recipient. Letter and telegram from Kenneth Raisbeck, 1926. 1 folders
From "Uncle Ken." Also spelled Austin.
- (2). Fairbanks, Marjorie C. Letters and telegrams to Kenneth Raisbeck, 1927-1931 and undated. 1 folders
- (3). Fairbanks, Marjorie C., recipient. Letters from Kenneth Raisbeck, 1920-1921. 1 folders
- (4). Fairbanks, Marjorie C., recipient. Letters from Kenneth Raisbeck, 1922. 1 folders
- (5). Fairbanks, Marjorie C., recipient. Letters and telegrams from Kenneth Raisbeck, 1925-1926. 1 folders
Some autograph manuscript letters include typescript transcript copies.
- (6). Fairbanks, Marjorie C., recipient. Letters and telegrams from Kenneth Raisbeck, 1927. 1 folders
- (7). Fairbanks, Marjorie C., recipient. Letters and telegrams from Kenneth Raisbeck, 1928. 1 folders
- (8). Fairbanks, Marjorie C., recipient. Letters and telegrams from Kenneth Raisbeck, 1929. 1 folders
- (9). Fairbanks, Marjorie C., recipient. Letters from Kenneth Raisbeck, 1930. 1 folders
- (10). Fairbanks, Marjorie C., recipient. Letters from Kenneth Raisbeck, 1931 and undated. 1 folders
- (11). Fairbanks, Sydney, b. 1895, recipient. Letter from Kenneth Raisbeck, 1920. 1 folders
- (12). Fairbanks, Sydney, b. 1895 and Marjorie C. Fairbanks, recipients. Letters from Kenneth Raisbeck, 1921 and 1923. 1 folders
- Series: II. Compositions by Kenneth Raisbeck
- (13). Caballero : poster, ca. 1927. 1 folders
Poster advertising French version of the Paramount film, The Gay defender (1927). Screenplay by Kenneth Raisbeck, Lay Harris, and Sam Mintz.
- (14). Raisbeck, Kenneth. The lady of Spain. A play in four acts. Act I : typescript carbon, undated. 1 folders
Typed on recto: "Kenneth Raisbeck, 508 Fairfax Hall, Cambridge 38, Massachusetts."
- (15). Raisbeck, Kenneth. The lady of Spain. Act II : typescript carbon, undated. 1 folders
Typed on recto: "Kenneth Raisbeck, 508 Fairfax Hall, Cambridge 38, Massachusetts."
- (16). Raisbeck, Kenneth. Late October : typescript poem, 1916 November 8. 1 folders
Marked: Kenneth Raisbeck '20, Harvard Advocate Vol CII, No 3, page 48.
- (17). Raisbeck, Kenneth. Rock me, Julie! A play in three acts : typescript carbon with manuscript revisions, undated. 1 Volumes
Sheets have been bound in black covers.
Written on inside of front cover: recto: "Kenneth Raisbeck,1437 5th Street, Santa
Monica, California." Another address is crossed out: "1335 Lincoln Boulevard."
Written on front fly leaf: "Kenneth Raisbeck his copy."
- (18). Raisbeck, Kenneth. Rock me, Julie! : clippings, 1930 November 2 - 1931 February 14. 1 folders
Includes advertisements and reviews for the pre-Broadway and Broadway production of
- (19). Raisbeck, Kenneth. Rock me, Julie! : program, 1931. 1 folders
From the Royale Theatre production. Starred Helen Menken and Paul Muni, at the Royale Theatre, 45th Street, New York. Began at the Royale 1931 February 3. Directed by James Light,
produced by Morris Green and Lewis E. Gensler.
- (19a). Raisbeck, Kenneth. Torches : typescript carbon with manuscript revisions, undated. 1 folders
- (20). Raisbeck, Kenneth. Torches : clipping, undated. 1 folders
Announcement of play to be part of the Little Theatre Tournament in Boston.
- Series: III. Other materials
- (22). Miscellany received with papers. 1 folders
Includes: KR annotated New Yorker cartoon; numerous manuscript notes; business card for The Mispah Inn (Syracuse, New
York); business card for William S. Kearns of the Connecticut State's Attorney's Office, County of Fairfield. manuscript notes
concerning KR from back of a folder; and manuscript list of contents of papers.
- (23). Murder of Kenneth Raisbeck : clippings, 1931 October. 1 folders
- (24). Pfau, Edith Raisbeck. Edith's poem read at Kenneth's committal service Hampton, Illinois : typescript, 1931 October 6. 1 folders
Edith Raisbeck Pfau was Kenneth Raisbeck's sister. Poem titled: Trees do not fret-- [first line]. Marked written in 1930.
- Apocrypha. Wisdom of Solomon. chp. 3, Verses I to 9 : typescript. Includes note that "Aunt Sarah" gave a quotation to mourners who regretted
that Kenneth was alone on the night he died.
- Quotation from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass: "This is thy hour O soul!" [first line] : typescript carbon.