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Alfred Lewis literary papers

Identifier: MC-057

Scope and Contents

The bulk of the collection consists of multiple drafts, in typescript, of Lewis’s unpublished and published works, including novels, poems, plays, and short stories. There are manuscripts for 9 novels, written from the late 1940s through the early 1970s. His only novel to be published during his lifetime was Home is an Island, in 1951. The collection contains a number of edited and annotated drafts for this novel, as well as correspondence, press clippings and a scrapbook about its publication. There are typescript versions of 6 plays, 43 short stories and some 200 poems in English and in Portuguese. Very few manuscripts were dated by Lewis. Dates are estimated where possible, based on correspondence from literary editors and agents. The collection also includes magazine and newspaper clippings of his poems and short stories that were published. His notes are heavily annotated with lively sketches of animals and faces.

The collection is divided into 5 series: I. Personal and business correspondence and documents, 1928-1979 II. Manuscripts of novels written, 1950s-1970s III. Short stories, 1940s -1970s IV. Poetry and other writings, plays 1940-1943 V. Plays, 1940-1943 VI. Clippings of published works, reviews and other articles, 1951-1978 VII. Books from his library


  • 1928-1977

Language of Materials

materials in English and Portuguese

Conditions Governing Access

No known restrictions

Biographical / Historical

Alfred Lewis’s literary accomplishments include nine novels, six plays, around two hundred poems, and forty-three short stories, that we know of. One novel was published during his lifetime. Home is an Island, published by Random House in 1951, tells the tale of a young man in the Azores about to immigrate to America. It became a bestseller and was reviewed in the New York Times Book Review, Chicago Sunday Tribune and the San Francisco Chronicle, among other publications. The sequel to Home is an Island, Sixty Acres and a Barn, was published posthumously in 2005 by the Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

Lewis’s many poems, written in English and Portuguese, were published in journals and newspapers. An important compilation of his poems entitled Aguarelas florentinas e outras poesias (Angra do Heroismo), was published in the Azores in 1986. To Lewis’s credit, his short stories, some of which were published, were twice referenced in Best American Short Stories in 1949 and 1950. All through his life, Lewis wrote articles, short stories and poems for the Portuguese-American press, - O Liberdade, O Lavrador Portuges, and O Jornal de Noticias - and a column entitled "The Far Corner," for local papers.

Born in 1902 on the island of Flores, Alfred Lewis emigrated from the Azores to the United States in 1922; he first arrived in Providence, Rhode Island and then moved on to California, where he lived for the rest of his life. He married Rose Cecelia Rimola in 1930; they had one daughter, Suzanne. At age 12 Lewis experienced an attack of poliomyelitis, to which he attributed his lifelong passion for sitting and reading, and ultimately writing, as opposed to physical pursuits.

In California, Lewis worked diverse jobs at different times to earn a living - he became a typesetter, clerked in a dry goods store, and worked as a wireless operator. Lewis also worked in real estate and insurance and did translations. He taught himself to write in English, studied law, and served as a city judge from 1938 to 1947 in Los Banos, California. He was somewhat of a local celebrity in Los Banos, where he lived. He later considered his most important contribution to be a counselor of sorts to Portuguese immigrants in the San Joaquin Valley. He helped them write letters, read documents, and navigate banks and other institutions, all for no remuneration.

He died in Los Banos in 1977.


12 Linear Feet (19 manuscript boxes and 4 oversize boxes)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of John and Suzanne Dutra, 2005.

MC 57, Alfred Lewis literary papers
Maura McGurk and Judy Farrar
June 2006
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the UMass Dartmouth Ferreira-Mendes Portuguese-American Archives Repository

Ferreira-Mendes Portuguese-American Archives
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
285 Old Westport Rd.
N. Dartmouth MA 02747 USA