Walter Van Tilburg Clark Letter to Dorothy Day

Identifier: 2017-36

Scope and Contents

Walter Van Tilburg Clark Letter to Dorothy Day contains one letter with illustrations sent to Dorothy Day from Walter Van Tilburg Clark. The letter, two pages in length, contains advice from Clark to Day about her acting as well as Clark's illustrations drawn on both sides of another sheet depicting Las Vegas, Nevada in the summer where Clark lived at the time the letter was written. At the very end of the letter, Clark mentions working on a book, although it is unknown which book this may have been or if it was published. Also included is a photocopy of a postcard of Cazenovia Central School in Cazenovia, New York, the school where Day had Clark as a teacher.


  • March 30, 1942


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials must be used on-site; advance notice suggested. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.

Biographical Note

Walter Van Tilburg Clark (1909-1971) was a western author, editor of the Journals of Alfred Doten, a lecturer at the University of Nevada, Reno, and the writer-in-residence at the University of Nevada, Reno, from 1962-1971.

Clark may be best known for his first published novel, The Ox-Bow Incident, published by Random House in 1940 due to the fact that it was made into a feature film in 1943 starring Henry Fonda. However, many of his short stories, such as “Hook,” “The Buck in the Hills,” and “The Wind and the Snow of Winter,” earned him respect nationally. In 1949, Random House again published another of his works, Track of the Cat, which was well received. Additional works, such as his novel, The City of Trembling Leaves, and a short story collection, The Watchful Gods and Other Stories, are also well known publications.

While Clark lived in Vermont, Maine, New York, New Mexico, California and Montana at various times during his life, he moved his family to Virginia City, Nevada in 1942 where he taught at the local high school for the 1950/1951 school year. In 1952, he accepted a half-time position at the University of Nevada, Reno, but resigned in protest in 1953 over a faculty and administration dispute. In 1954 he moved away but contracted to work on a Nevada-related topic, the Alfred Doten diaries editing project and biography. He published the 3-volume work, The Journals of Alfred Doten, 1849-1903, in 1973 (University of Nevada Press). He moved to the San Francisco Bay area and taught creative writing at San Francisco State. By 1968, he and his wife had moved back to Virginia City, Nevada, and he remained there until his death on November 10, 1971.

Dorothy Day (DeeDee or D-D as she was addressed by Clark) grew up in New York and was a student of Clark's at Cazenovia Central School in Cazenovia, New York.


0.41 Linear Feet (1 item)

Language of Materials



Walter Van Tilburg Clark (1909–1971) was an American novelist, short story writer, and educator. He is one of Nevada's most distinguished literary figures of the 20th century and was the first inductee into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame in 1988. The collection includes one letter with illustrations by Walter Van Tilburg Clark sent to former student Dorothy Day in Cazenovia, New York in 1942. The two-page letter is dated March 30, with its postmarked envelope from Las Vegas, Nevada.


Arranged without hierarchy.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Harold Lieberman in April 2017.

Related Materials

Related archival materials held by the UNR Special Collections Department:

NC527, Walter Van Tilburg Clark Papers

Guide to the Walter Van Tilburg Clark Letter to Dorothy Day
Jessica Maddox
August 2017
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Nevada, Reno. Special Collections Department Repository

Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center
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Reno Nevada 89557-0322 USA
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