Alan Brilliant correspondence with Ted Wilentz

Biographical and Historical Notes

Alan Brilliant

American author and publisher Alan Brilliant (born 1936) owns and operates the Unicorn Press. Founded in 1966 by Ken Maytag in Santa Barbara, California, the press became known for publishing important works of contemporary U.S. poets and the translations of twentieth-century German and French poets.

Brilliant was born in St. Louis, Missouri. After graduating from Columbia University in 1957, he married novelist, poet, and translator Teo Savory (1907-1989) on February 20, 1958. In 1967, Brilliant and Savory had worked as designers and typesetters for the Unicorn Press, a small independent hand printing press, which they purchased in 1968. The press relocated to Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1972.


Unicorn Press. "About." Accessed April 18, 2014.

"Alan Donald Brilliant." Marquis Who's Who TM. Marquis Who's Who, 2009. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2009.

Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2009. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2009.

Biographical information also derived from the collection.

Ted Wilentz

American editor and author Theodore (Ted) Wilentz (born 1915) was an essential figure to the print culture of Greenwich Village and to the wider avant-garde literary scene.

His Eighth Street Bookshop in Greenwich Village attracted poets like as e.e. cummings and Allen Ginsberg. In 1959, Wilentz and his brother Eli founded Corinth Books. From 1970 to 1973, Wilentz served as president in the Booksellers League of New York.

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains .7 linear feet of personal letters and postcards from Alan Brilliant of Unicorn Press to his former employer and longtime friend, proprietor of Corinth Books Ted Wilentz. Other materials include press catalogs, newsletters, financial records, periodicals, clippings, poems, and other printed ephemera related to the Unicorn Press.

The collection reflects various milestones in the life of the small press. Following a managerial position at Red Lion Book Co., Brilliant purchased Unicorn Press, and for many years sought counsel from Wilentz concerning the book business; applying for grant funding; and placing the press's archival records with an institution. As both men were in the business of print culture, they often met at the New York Book Fair, and their respective organizations maintained a trans-continental relationship in which books and advertising space were cooperatively purchased.