Richard Morgan Kain
Special Collections and Archives
University Libraries, University of Louisville, KY
Collection: Richard M. Kain Library & Papers
Richard Morgan Kain was an internationally recognized authority on the work of James Joyce. His career as a professor and chairman of the humanities division at the University of Louisville was periodically interrupted with visiting professorships at Harvard and University College, Dublin, and by his lectures at universities around the world and at Joyce Symposia in Dublin, Trieste, Paris, and Monte Carlo.
In 1944 he broke new ground by offering one of the first college courses on James Joyce to be given anywhere. His first book, Fabulous Voyager (1947), stands as a landmark — one of the earliest significant critical works on Joyce.
Kain's academic interests also included Shakespeare, English Renaissance culture, and the modern novel. His research on Joyce grew to encompass all the writers of the Irish Literary Renaissance, including Yeats, A.E., Synge, Gogarty, Lady Gregory, and Tynan, as well as later writers such as Brendan Behan, Edna O'Brien, and Susan L. Mitchell.
His working library includes a wealth of editions, including editions of Joyce, a complete file of Little Review with the first appearance of Ulysses, including the rare suppressed issues, and a comprehensive collection of first editions (often signed) of Yeats and all other writers and personalities of the Irish Literary Renaissance. He also collected material on Irish politics and history, as well as extensive documentation of Dublin, its history, architecture, and culture.
All of these topics are represented through books — both original editions and criticism — and periodicals (including early 19th-century newspapers), along with manuscripts, drawings, photographs, and ephemera. Throughout his career Kain's wife Louise Yerkes Kain traveled and collected with him, selecting hundreds of volumes representative of 16th- and early 17th-century English printing, history, and literature. These include the 1587 edition of Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland by Raphael Holinshed (d. 1580), used by Shakespeare as the source for his histories.
In addition to his library, the University of Louisville holds Kain's papers, including his correspondence, research notes, manuscripts for his lectures, articles and books, and documentation of Dr. and Mrs. Kain's civic involvement as patrons of the arts in Louisville, KY, particularly the Louisville Orchestra.