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Bertha West Nealey papers

Identifier: SCL-MS-9273

Included in the Bertha West Nealey papers are poems and their numerous revisions from her two published books, White Plum Thickets (1978) and Altars to Kuan Yin Goddess of Mercy (1981); poems for two unpublished books, Sea Poems and Unsieved Songs of My Years; miscellaneous poems and their revisions; short stories; poems and short stories written by classmates in a creative writing class; correspondence, 1922-1981; news articles; and pencil sketches. Born in Chesterfield County, S.C., on 26 Oct. 1893 to William C. and Harriet Keenan Armstrong West, Bertha was the eldest of two sisters and one brother. After graduating from Coker College in 1916, she taught for one year at McBee High School in McBee, S.C. From 1918 until 1956 she lived in New York City and Connecticut. During these years Nealey wrote poetry, free lance and for a local weekly paper, the Wilton (Conn.) Bulletin; attended creative writing courses at local universities; worked as a copywriter for advertising agencies; studied art and interior decorating with the New York School of Design and Lucy D. Taylor; opened an interior decorating business; and developed "Constant Comment" tea. In 1956, Nealey returned to South Carolina with her husband James Barton Nealey. After his death in 1957, she continued to study art and creative writing in Columbia. In addition to various drafts of poems from Nealey's two published books, White Plum Thickets (1978) and Altars to Kuan Yin Goddess of Mercy (1981), and poems for two unpublished books, Sea Poems and Unsieved Songs of My Years, the collection includes series of children's poetry, love poems, and poems intended for a second book dedicated to Kuan Yin. These series are arranged alphabetically by title.


  • 1913 - 1982


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

All rights reside with creator. For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact The South Caroliniana Library.


5 Linear Feet (4 boxes 1 audio cassette)

Biographical / Historical

1893 Oct. 26 Born Chesterfield County, S.C., daughter of William C. and Harriet Keenan Armstrong West 1916 Graduated Coker College, Hartsville, S.C. 1917 Teacher, McBee High School, McBee, S.C. 1918-1922 Employed in New York as fashion writer, freelance writer, and theater artist 1923 Editor,Furriers Fashions 1924 Feb. 24 Married James Barton Nealey 1926 Published weekly poetry column in Wilton Bulletin, Wilton, Conn. 1932-1934 Enrolled in writing classes at New York University; courses at Columbia University 1956 Moved to Columbia, S.C. 1958-1978 Presented poetry readings at Furman University and Coker College 1978 PublishedWhite Plum Thickets 1981 Published Altars to Kuan Yin Goddess of Mercy 1981 Recipient of Archibald Rutledge Poetry Award for "Lynches River" 1988 Jan. 15 Died


Also includes accession number 11957.

Repository Details

Part of the South Caroliniana Library Repository

910 Sumter St.
University of South Carolina
Columbia SC 29208 USA
(803) 777-5747 (Fax)

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