November 29, 2020

New York Public Library is Acquiring Tom Wolfe’s Papers for $2.15 Million

From The New York Times:

The $2.15 million acquisition, largely paid for with a private donation, was approved by the library’s board on Wednesday afternoon. It will add significantly to the library’s holdings not just in American literature but in the history of New York City as well, said Anthony W. Marx, the library’s president and chief executive.

[Clip]

Mr. Wolfe, 83, is known for his gargantuan novels, and his archive also puts up some impressive numbers. It includes roughly 190 boxes of material — or about 100 linear feet, in archivist-speak — including drafts, outlines and research materials for his four novels and 12 other books as well as his uncollected journalism.

It also contains more than 10,000 letters to Mr. Wolfe dating from 1955 to the present from friends like Hunter S. Thompson, William F. Buckley and Gay Talese, as well as from people he had written about, not all of whom were happy.

Read the Complete Article (Including Comments from NYPL CEO, Anthony Marx)

From the NYPL:

Some general highlights from the collection include:

  • Dozens of notebooks for each of his two major works of non-fiction: The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and The Right Stuff.
  • Notes, notebooks and drafts that comprehensively document Wolfe’s development as a writer, his innovations in journalistic methodology, as well as the composition and creation of particular works. Wolfe’s notebooks offer ample evidence for investigating the techniques he employed to achieve some of the characteristic devices of New Journalism, including scene-by-scene construction and extensive character dialog.
  • Over 10,000 letters dated 1955 to the present, which range from responses to his work (sometimes from his subjects) to personal notes from friends such as Hunter S. Thompson and William F. Buckley to requests for interviews and speaking arrangements.
  • Original drafts of Bonfire of the Vanities, which were first serialized in Rolling Stone magazine. The notebooks and drafts show the transformation of his works from outline to published work, and include original research that did not make it into any of Wolfe’s published writings.

The Library was able to acquire the $2.15 million collection – which will be part of the Manuscripts and Archives Division – with a generous donation from NYPL Trustee Katharine Rayner.

Appearance at NYPL

Here’s a brief clip from a NYPL “Live” event from 2012 featuring Tom Wolfe.

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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