University of Texas, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

William Goyen:

An Inventory of His Art Collection in the Art Collection at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Goyen, William, 1915-1983
Title: William Goyen Art Collection
Dates: 1929-1954, most undated
Abstract: The William Goyen Art Collection comprises eighteen works from Goyen’s archive. These include works by his Taos associates, Frieda Lawrence, Dorothy Brett, and Frieda Lawrence's second husband, Angelo Ravagli, as well as portrait drawings of Goyen by Don Bachardy and Joseph Glasco.
Extent: 1 box, 3 framed works, 2 ceramics (18 items)
Language: English
Repository: The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Center

Biographical Sketch

Charles William Goyen was born on 24 April 1915 in Trinity, Texas, to Charles Provine Goyen and Mary Inez (Trow) Goyen. When he was eight, the family moved to Houston, where Goyen attended public schools. He graduated from Sam Houston High School and received his B.A. and M.A. degrees in Comparative Literature from Rice University in 1927 and 1939.

Goyen taught at the University of Houston for one year. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II aboard an aircraft carrier, where he began work on his first and most celebrated novel, The House of Breath. After the war he returned briefly to Texas before leaving to pursue a writing career. From 1945 to 1952 he lived for periods in New Mexico, California, and New York City. In Taos, New Mexico, he built a tiny adobe house on land provided by Frieda Lawrence; here he was close friends with Lawrence, Mabel Dodge Luhan, and Dorothy Brett.

After the success of The House of Breath (1950) and his first collection of stories, Ghost and Flesh: Stories and Tales (1952), he was awarded Guggenheim fellowships in 1952 and 1954, which allowed him to spend time in Rome in 1954 and 1955. After he returned from Europe, Goyen stayed in New York City for several years. He started writing plays and stage adaptations of his own fiction; six of his plays were produced, and he won a Ford Foundation Grant for Theater Writing. His theater work also brought him into contact with Doris Roberts, a stage, motion-picture, and television actress, and they married in November 1963. From 1966 to 1971 Goyen worked as an editor at McGraw-Hill. Over the years he taught as a visiting lecturer at various universities, including Brown, Columbia, Princeton, and the University of Southern California. The Goyens moved to Los Angeles in 1975, and he died there of lymphoma on August 29, 1983.

Scope and Contents

The William Goyen Art Collection comprises eighteen works from Goyen’s archive. These include works by his Taos associates -- two works by Frieda Lawrence, a collage by Dorothy Brett, and two ceramic works by Frieda Lawrence's second husband, Angelo Ravagli. There are two portrait drawings of Goyen -- one attributed to Don Bachardy and one by Joseph Glasco. The works are listed alphabetically by artist. Titles are transcribed from the items. Cataloger’s titles appear in brackets.



Open for research. A minimum of twenty-four hours is required to pull art materials to the Reading Room.

Related Material

The Ransom Center also has materials from Goyen's archives in its Manuscripts Collection, Library, and Photography Collection.

Administrative Information


Purchases (R6315, R10755) 1974, 1985, and Gift, 1974

Processed by:

Helen Young, 2003


Gibbons, Reginald. "William Goyen". Dictionary of Literary Biography. Vol. 218, American Short-Story Writers Since World War II, 2nd ser., ed. Patrick Meanor. Detroit: Gale Research, 1999.

"Goyen, Charles William."The Handbook of Texas Online. (accessed 31 October 2002).

Goyen, William. Three Women: a Memoir. Austin, Tex.: Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, 1999.

Item List

1.1 Bachardy, Don (attributed to). [William Goyen, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing right]. Undated.
1 drawing (pencil), irreg. image 30.2 x 22.3 cm.
1.2 Bachardy, Don. [William Goyen, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing front; pencil drawing]. Undated.
1 reproduction, 28 x 21.5 cm.
Painting storage Brett, Dorothy. Sparkle. Ducks in Flight [two ducks and a hawk in flight; blimp in background]. 1942.
1 collage (copper wire, abalone shell inlaid into wood), visible image 34.3 x 44.1 cm.
1.3 Glasco, Joseph. [William Goyen, head portrait facing front]. Undated.
1 drawing (pencil), 20.2 x 12.6 cm.
1.4-7 Lawrence, D. H.. [Under the Hay-Stack; Close-Up (Kiss); Boccaccio Story; Yawning; proofs from Paintings of D. H. Lawrence (Mandrake Press, 1929)]. 1929.
4 reproductive prints, 36.2 x 26.5 cm. or smaller
Painting storage Lawrence, Frieda. [D. H. Lawrence, Frieda Lawrence, Dorothy Brett, Mabel Dodge Luhan, Tony Luhan, and Witter Bynner, in woodland scene; design by D.H. Lawrence; in frame built by D. H. Lawrence]. Undated.
1 embroidery on canvas, 41.6 x 50 cm.
1.8 Lawrence, Frieda. [Shepherd with sheep, fish, angels; ms. note by Goyen states that this represents Goyen returning from war]. 1946.
1 painting (watercolor), 36.9 x 46.4 cm.
Sculpture storage Ravagli, Angelo. [Rose and blue glazed bowl; broken]. 1947/48.
1 bowl, 7.6 x 20 cm.
Sculpture storage Ravagli, Angelo. [Blue glazed pitcher]. 1947/48.
1 pitcher, 16.2 x 19 cm.
1.9 Unidentified. Iris Tree [half-length portrait of woman, facing right]. Undated.
1 drawing (pencil), 21.5 x 18.5 cm.
1.10 Unidentified. Brett [Dorothy Brett, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing left]. 1954.
1 drawing (ink), 21.5 x 18.5 cm.
1.11 Unidentified. Casa Ave [overhead view of house]. Undated.
1 drawing (pencil), 18.5 x 21.5 cm.
1.12 Unidentified. [Head-and-shoulders portrait of man, facing front]. Undated.
1 drawing (pencil), 21.5 x 18.5 cm.
1.13 Unidentified. [Two abstract horses]. Undated.
1 drawing (ink), 21.5 x 18.5 cm.
1.14 Unidentified. [Fat horse]. Undated.
1 drawing (ink), 13.5 x 20.3 cm.