The Pynchon Papers

IN preparing the text of these letters of John Pynchon, the editor has followed the principles set forth by Samuel Eliot Morison in the preface to Of Plymouth Plantation, 16201647 (New York, 1952), viii. All contractions and abbreviations are spelled out; capitalization follows modern usage, as do also spelling and punctuation, unless otherwise indicated by brackets in the text or explained in a footnote. John Pynchon wrote with some clarity, save in a few instances when he was under great pressure, and throughout the editor has sought to preserve his language intact. Because most of the letters come from two repositories, in the headings to each letter they are abbreviated: w. p. for the Winthrop Papers in the Massachusetts Historical Society; and m. a. for the Massachusetts Archives at the State House, both in Boston. Today, the Winthrop Papers are arranged chronologically, but we have also included the former volume and page numbers since citations in earlier works employed them.

The editor agrees with John Milton that he has no mandate to indulge in “a paroxysm of citation.” Wherever possible individuals addressed or mentioned are identified, and some obscure matters are clarified. In general, however, the intent is to assist scholars—the principal readers of such a work—in their investigations of the early history of Massachusetts, and not to write a monograph. Because most of the references in the footnotes are listed below in the Select Bibliography, their places and dates of publication are omitted.

This collection of documents is a tribute to the spirit of cooperation prevailing these days in the Republic of Scholarship. The Colonial Society of Massachusetts, through the editor and compiler, is indeed grateful to the following libraries and institutions for assistance in locating and permission to print these letters and documents. Most of the letters were found in the superb collection of Winthrop Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society; and from the official correspondence in the Massachusetts Archives (State House, Boston) came the next largest number. One or more Pynchon items come from the Boston Public Library, the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum, the Hatfield Library, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Long Island Historical Society, the Massachusetts Medical Library (Boston), the New York Public Library, the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association (Deerfield), the Public Record Office (London), the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library (Hyde Park), and the Yale University Library. To the many devoted archivists and librarians at these repositories we offer sincerest thanks; without their help there would be no volume of Pynchon letters.

We commend Grace Garth for her excellent typing of a difficult text. And Roberta Bridenbaugh deserves special thanks for expert advice on many points and for preparing the index.

The American Philosophical Society generously made two research grants to aid the search for letters and toward the expenses of making the extracts for Volume ii. For these Miss Tomlinson wishes to express her thanks.

juliette tomlinson

carl bridenbaugh


1 September 1981