Robert Drake Papers

Identifier: MSS.0117

  • Staff Only


  • 1953 - 1998

Conditions Governing Access

This collection may be viewed only in the reading room of Special Collections in the Jean and Alexander Heard Library. Collections should be requested 2-3 days prior to visiting in order to facilitate easier access. For questions or to request a collection, contact

Biographical Note - Robert Young Drake, Jr.

Robert Young Drake, Jr. was born October 20,1930 to Lillian Wood and Robert Young Drake in Ripley, Tennessee. In 1952 he graduated with a Bachelors Degree in English from Vanderbilt University. While a student at Vanderbilt, he took courses taught by Donald Davidson. He received his Masters Degree in English from Vanderbilt University in 1953. His Master’s Thesis was titled Theme and Rationale in the Short Stories of Saki. Drake graduated from Yale University with a Masers in English in 1954. He then obtained a Doctor of Philosophy from Yale University in 1955. His Dissertation was titled Keats as Pastoral Poet: The Romantic Quest for Arcadia.

In 1955 Drake became an instructor in English at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He held this position till 1958. While at the University of Michigan, he became friends with Austin Warren who encouraged him to write stories. During this time he also met Russel Kirk, then editor of Modern Age.

Drake was an instructor in English at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois from 1958 to 1961. While there, he became friends with Dean Peerman, editor of Christian Century. He was Assistant Professor of English at the University of Texas, Austin from 1961 to 1965. In 1962, Drake visited Flannery O’Connor and her mother at Andalusia Farm in Milledgeville, Georgia. He published his first collection of stories, Amazing Grace from Chilton Press, which won the Fiction Award at the Annual Texas Writers Roundup in 1965. In that same year he became Associate Professor of English at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, a position he held until 1973.

In 1966, Drake published Flannery O’Connor The True Country, a booklet for Eerdmans Publishers Contemporary Writers in Christian Perspective Series. He was Writer-in-Residence for the Writer’s Conference, Glorieta, New Mexico, where he became friends with Allen Tate in 1967. The proceedings of the 1969 Souther Literary Festival, titled The Writer and His Traditions, was edited by Drake. He also served as the chairman of the festival. In 1971 he published The Single Heart, from Aurora Publications.

Drake was appointed Professor of English at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 1973. He published The Burning Bush, from Aurora Publications in 1975. In 1976, Drake wrote the introduction for the University of Tennessee Press Tennessean Editions Reprints of Tennessee Classics publication of Miss Minerva and William Green Hill by Frances Boyd Calhoun.

In 1980, The Home Place, from Memphis State University Press, and The Country of Robert Drake: Hearing and Understanding the voices of West Tennessee, Program at University of Tennessee were published. The second printing of Amazing Grace was released in 1981. Drake taught a course in Southern Fiction at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansa in 1982. During this time, he also gave a lecture for the Bertie Wilson Murphy Symposium in Literature and Langauge at Hendrix College. Survivors and Others, from Mercer University Press was published in 1987.

Drake published the Twenty-firth Anniversary edition of Amazing Grace, from Mercer University Press and wrote the introduction for Tennessee:A Photographic Celebration from American Graphic Publishing in 1990. In 1991, he was the featured writer at SAMLA. My Sweetheart’s House: Memories, Fictions, from Mercer University Press was published in 1993. What Would You Do For an Encore? And Other Stories was published by Mercer University press in 1996. The Home Place, the restored text was published by Mercer University press in 1998. Due to illness, Drake retried from fulltime teaching at University of Tennessee in 1999. He died in 2001.


32.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Physical Location

Offsite Storage, Special Collections & Archives

Finding Aid for the Robert Drake Papers
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Repository Details

Part of the Vanderbilt University Special Collections Repository

Special Collections Library
1101 19th Ave. S.
Nashville TN 37212 United States


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