Inside the Chronicle: Stalin’s Daughter and the Library

This series gives readers an inside look into the scholarly articles that grace the pages of the Princeton University Library Chronicle.

The following is excerpted from the Spring/Summer 2022 issue; Volume LXXIX, No. 1.

Stalin’s Daughter and the Library, by Alfred L. Bush

In 1970, my good friends the Borels invited me to Svetlana Alliluyeva’s final dinner in Princeton. Armand Borel was then a professor of mathematics at the Institute for Advanced Study. I had been privileged to be included in drinks parties given for Institute mathematicians in the Borels’ Battle Road Circle residence.

Cover images of Svetlana Alliluyeva’s book, “Twenty Letters to a Friend,” in Finnish, Greek, Polish, and Korean, which she donat

Cover images of Svetlana Alliluyeva’s book, “Twenty Letters to a Friend,” in Finnish, Greek, Polish, and Korean, which she donated to Princeton University Library.

This evening, he and his charming Swiss wife, Gaby, were saying farewell to their friend before she left to marry William Wesley Peters, the chairman of Taliesin Associated Architects, based at Frank Lloyd Wright’s renowned compounds in Wisconsin and Arizona. I had received this news with trepidation because Olgivanna, Wright’s widow, continued to run Taliesin with rigid authority. Years before, I stopped at Taliesin with a Princeton graduate student of architecture on a road trip to the West. More than having our architectural expectations confirmed, we were struck by the community we encountered.

As we drove into the compound, a group of apprentice architects was rehearsing modern dance on the lawns. While we were shown about by an apprentice, it became clear that their principal purpose, rather than architectural training, was the entertainment of the Wrights. If an oboe were needed for the small chamber music group and it was discovered that an apprentice candidate played the oboe, he was rushed to the top of the list of those offered internships.

With this image in mind I arrived at the Borels’ home to discover a table set for four.

I was introduced to Svetlana for the first time and offered drinks, whereupon the Borels vanished into the kitchen to finish preparing our meal, leaving me alone with my new and formidable acquaintance. She had been living in Princeton since her defection from the Soviet Union in 1967.

About the Princeton University Library Chronicle
The Princeton University Library Chronicle is an interdisciplinary journal sponsored by the Friends of Princeton University Library since 1930. Its mission is to publish articles of scholarly importance and general interest based on research in the collections of the Princeton University Library (PUL). The Chronicle welcomes submissions of articles relating to all facets of the collections. We also welcome articles relating to the history of the University and the Princeton region. The entire archives of the Chronicle (1939-) and its predecessor, Biblia (1930-1938), are available, open-access, full-text on JSTOR.

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Media Contact: Barbara Valenza, Director of Library Communications

Published October 19, 2022.