William G. Thompson Briarwood Writers' Alliance correspondence and publicity records

Biographical and Historical Notes

William G. Thompson (1922-2009) incorporated the Briarwood Writers' Alliance, Inc. on July 1, 1987, in Needham, Massachusetts.

Prior to creating the Briarwood Writers' Alliance, William Thompson served in the U. S. Army during World War II, deployed with the Combat Engineers in Europe and the Pacific. Following his release from the military, Thompson worked in radio broadcasting, at stations in North Adams and Taunton, Massachusetts, and later for RCA Victor Records. Thompson worked as a literary representative for Lordly and Dame, in Boston, Massachusetts until 1987.

Following his employment at Lordly and Dame, Thompson founded his own company, Briarwood Writers' Alliance, Inc. As Briarwood's President, Thompson represented more than 150 writers and poets, including Pulitzer and Nobel prize winners, as well as a few performers. Thompson booked readings, lectures, events for colleges and universities, and literary gatherings.

Through his work Thompson developed close working relationships with numerous twentieth-century poets and writers, including the likes of Margaret Atwood, Eavan Boland, Donald Hall, Joy Harjo, Marge Piercy, W. D. Snodgrass, and Stephen Spender. The company was voluntarily dissolved in the late 2000s prior to Thompson's death in 2009.

Sources

"William G. Thompson," The Needham Times, January 12-19, 2010. http://www.legacy.com/obituaries (accessed December 16, 2013).

Wysak Company Profile for Briarwood Writers' Alliance, Inc. http://www.wysk.com (accessed December 16, 2013).

Additional information derived from the Boston Book Company & Book Annex collection description.

Scope and Content Note

William G. Thompson as President of the Briarwood Writers' Alliance, Inc., represented more than 150 writers, poets, and performers by booking lectures and readings at educational institutions, literary gatherings, and community events.

William G. Thompson Briarwood Writers' Alliance correspondence and publicity records comprise eight linear feet of documents created between 1964 and 2007. The collection is arranged in two series, I. Correspondence and publicity files and II. Financial papers.

Over eighty percent of the collection is part of the Series I.A. Authors, which consists of correspondence between Thompson and the authors he represented; correspondence with some of the authors' publishers; the publicity packets sent by publishers, authors, or agents; as well as clippings and reviews gathered by Thompson. Thompson used the biographical sketches, photographs, dust jackets, press releases, and other publicity sent to him to create brochures and flyers used to promote his clientele to universities and other organizations for speaking and reading engagements. Brochures and flyers in various states, from mock-ups to final product, are present in the files. The author files also include itineraries for an author's speaking tours, contracts, letters of recommendation following an author's successful visit, publishers' catalogs, and books written by the authors.

Obviously the authors' files were Thompson's working file for each client. The other segments of the collection, I. B. Events, geographical and miscellaneous correspondence, and the small second series II. Financial papers, provide supporting information. Series I. B. Events, geographical and miscellaneous correspondence comprises ten folders of files and is arranged alphabetically by event or state, from the Bumbershoot Festival to the state of Wisconsin. Correspondence with institutions and event organizers details the negotiation for speaking engagements and the arrangements for the visits.

Series II. Financial papers, is a small series comprising Thompson's correspondence with his accountant, Frank McNutley regarding a tax issue and a file of contracts for speaking engagements. The contracts are arranged in contract number order and are dated between 1987 and 1990.

Although this collection is an agent's working file, the personable correspondence between Thompson and various authors (for example, Donald Hall, Robert Creeley, and Margaret Atwood) suggests a mutual respect and friendship between Thompson and his clients. The correspondence reveals Thompson's busy schedule juggling campus appearances, promoting poets and poetry, keeping informed about publishing trends, and ensuring that his authors and performers are well treated during their travels and engagements. This collection also reveals William Thompson as an advocate for poets and poetry.