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Publisher, Author, Artist Fleur Cowles’ Archive Comes to UT

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Celebrated for its provocative design, enlightened articles, and sophisticated ad layouts, Flair left an indelible mark on publishing.

As a humanities research library and museum housing some of the world’s finest cultural collections, UT’s Harry Ransom Center has always had a certain flair. Now it has the complete Flair, following the donation of the personal archive of Fleur Cowles (1908–2009).

Cowles published Flair, a magazine celebrated for its provocative design, enlightened articles, and sophisticated advertising layouts, in 1950-51. Its brief run left an indelible mark on publishing, and the archive documents that period with Cowles’ 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. The archive documents Cowles’ efforts to merge literature and art through her wide-ranging relationships and creative endeavors.

Cowles pulled together the new, the controversial, the innovative, and the creative.

Cowles and her husband, Tom Meyer, had a longstanding relationship with the Ransom Center, and the center has an endowment named in their honor. It supports a graduate internship program, the biennial Fleur Cowles Flair Symposium, research fellowships, and a replica of Cowles’ study from her London residence.

“Fleur was very interested in the Ransom Center and our aim to bring together literary and artistic achievements of the 20th century,” says center director Thomas F. Staley. “Her 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 a biography of Dalí, and exhibited her artwork in galleries and museums around the world. Some works are on display in the center’s Fleur Cowles Room.

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