The personal archive of publisher, author and artist Fleur Cowles has been donated to the Harry Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin.
In 1950, Cowles published Flair magazine, a work known for its provocative design, enlightened articles and sophisticated advertising layouts. Published from February 1950 to January 1951, the magazine’s one-year run left an indelible mark on publishing history.
Cowles (19082009) and her husband, Tom Meyer, had a longstanding relationship with the Ransom Center, which led to the creation of the Fleur Cowles Endowment in 1992. The endowment supports a graduate internship program, the biennial Fleur Cowles Flair Symposium, research fellowships and a replica of Cowles’s study from her Albany residence in London.
The archive contains Cowles’s correspondence, manuscripts, galleys, research material, albums, books, press clippings and photographs.
With Flair, Cowles prescribed a rich mix of works from writers, artists, critics and other notables, including Tennessee Williams, W.H. Auden, Simone de Beauvoir, Salvador Dalí, Jean Cocteau, Rufino Tamayo and Gypsy Rose Lee. The heart of Flair was its success in pulling together the new, the controversial, the innovative and the creative.
“Fleur was very interested in the Ransom Center and our aim to bring together literary and artistic achievements of the 20th century,” said Thomas F. Staley, director of the Center. “Fleur’s archive documents many of her efforts to merge literature and art through her wide-ranging relationships and creative endeavors.”
In addition to her work in publishing, Cowles was an author and artist. She wrote more than 15 books, including collections of autobiographical anecdotes such as “Friends and Memories” and “All Too True,” and an authorized biography of Dalí.
Cowles’s paintings, filled with animals and flowers, first received international recognition at the São Paulo Biennale in 1965. She exhibited her artwork more than 40 times in galleries and museums around the world. The Ransom Center already held some of Cowles’s artwork, which is on display in the Center’s Fleur Cowles Room.
The materials will be accessible once processed and cataloged. High-resolution press images are available.