Paul Engle

Paul Engle

1945 - 1991
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Flannery O’Connor Meets Paul Engle

Iowa Writers' Workshop (Dey House)
507 North Clinton Street, Iowa City, Iowa

Flannery O’Connor was accepted to the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 1945 and obtained her Master of Fine Arts degree in 1947. She was then offered a post-doctoral fellowship at the Workshop and spent another year in Iowa City.

The story of her arrival at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, situated at the beginning of theComplete Stories, is many readers’ first image of the eccentrically named author: a woman, plainspoken, charming, shy and yet sure of her self, and with good reason, the story suggests, for she had been exceptional all along.

Her scholarship was is journalism, but she called on the director of the Writers’ Workshop, named Paul Engle, and made a special request in her best Deep South voice. He asked her to say it again. She did so. He looked at her as if she had spoken in tongues. The he gave her pad and pencil and asked her to write it down. In her schoolteacherly script, she explained herself: My name is Flannery O’Connor. I am not a journalist. Can I come to the Writers’ Workshop? 


Elie, Paul. The Life You save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003. 145.


Paul Engle Creates the International Writing Program

Shambaugh House
430 North Clinton Street

In 1967, Paul and Hualing Engle founded the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa.

The notion to start a program for foreign writers came to her one day in 1966, while she and Engle were on an outing at the Coralville Reservoir. As Paul swam, she thought about her troubles integrating into the community of writers that Engle had brought to Iowa City. When he rejoined her for a boat ride on the lake, she mentioned her desire to start a similar program exclusively for established foreign writers. His immediate reaction was: “That’s the craziest idea I’ve ever heard!”

The idea worked and today over 1,500 writers have attented the IWP. In 1976, over three hundred writers nominated the Engles for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Alumni, University of Iowa. “Brothers and Sisters of the Pen.” Iowa Alumni Magazine: Brothers and Sisters of the Pen, 1987


Robert Penn Warren Visits Paul Engle

Paul Engle's Home
1218 Friendly Ave., Iowa City, IA

When Robert Penn Warren visited Iowa City, he very often stayed with Paul Engle. In 1945, Warren wrote a letter to Engle at 1218 Friendly Avenue, discussing the visit he would soon make, and how much he was looking forward to staying at Engle’s home again. This letter can be viewed at Special Collections, in the UI Main Library.

Special Collections, in the UI Main Library

Paul Engle (1908 – 1991), noted American poet, editor, teacher, literary critic, novelist, and playwright. He acted as the long-time director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and as the founder of the International Writing Program (IWP), both at the University of Iowa.


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