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Donald Barthelme Collection


1963 – 1991




Manuscript Collection Number 466


Accessioned:  Purchase, 2003


Extent:  1.5 linear ft.


Content:  Galleys, proofs, manuscripts, correspondence, art work, published periodicals, and ephemera.


Access:  The collection is open for research.


Processed:  May 2003 by Gerald Cloud

Table of Contents
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Contents Note
  • Series List
  • Contents List

    Biographical Note

                The American novelist and short story writer Donald Barthelme was born April 7, 1931 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; he died of cancer on July 23, 1989 in Houston, Texas.  Barthelme became interested in writing as a Houston high school student and in his sophomore year of college he edited the University of Houston’s Cougar newspaper.  In the early 1950s Barthelme worked as a reporter for the Houston Post.  After his military service in Korea and Japan he returned to Houston where he held a variety of positions, including founder and editor of the literary magazine Forum (1956 – 1960) and director of the Contemporary Arts Museum (1961-1962).

                The stories that would make up his first book began appearing in literary journals and magazines in 1961 and by 1963 he had settled in New York City, publishing Come Back, Dr. Calgari (1964) and his first novel, Snow White (1967), to critical praise.  In 1963 he also published his first story in The New Yorker, to which he became a long time contributor.  A children’s book, The Slightly Irregular Fire Engine or the Hithering Thithering Djinn (1971), won a National Book Award.  From the 1960s through the early 1980s Barthelme published a steady flow of work and was considered among the most original and significant writers of his generation.

                Best known for his short fiction, Barthelme frequently combined unconventional treatment of traditional storytelling elements, such as plot, character development, and chronology, with a humorous use of parody and satire.  Barthelme’s writing has frequently been called experimental, minimalist, metafictional, postmodern, and surrealist, but none of these terms fully account for his unique style.  During his career he published ten collections of short fiction, four novels, and a variety of essays, articles, and other short works.  His best-known novel is The Dead Father (1978), and the anthologies Sixty Stories (1981) and Forty Stories (1987) collect his best short fiction.

                In addition to his career as a novelist and short story writer Barthelme held teaching positions in the 1970s and 1980s at SUNY Buffalo, Boston University, the City College of New York, and the University of Houston.

                Among the awards Barthelme received are: O’Henry Award, 1964 and 1966; Guggenheim fellowship, 1966; National Book Award for children’s literature (1972), and nominations for National Book Critics Circle Award, PEN/Faulkner Award, and Los Angeles Times Book Prize for the anthology Sixty Stories (1982).




    Barth, John.  “Thinking Man's Minimalist: Honoring Barthelme.” New York Times, New York, N.Y.; Sep 3, 1989; pg. Book Review 9.


    Gordon, Lois.  Donald Barthelme.  Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1981. 


    LeClair, Tom.  “An Interview with Donald Barthelme.” Anything Can Happen.  Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1983.  32-44. 


    O'Hara, J.D. Paris Review Interview.  Summer 1981.  180-210. 


    Scope and Content Note


    The Donald Barthelme Collection spans the dates 1963 – 1991.  The collection contains galleys, proofs, manuscripts, published periodicals, and correspondence by the American writer Donald Barthelme.  Many of the galleys and proofs have been extensively corrected by Barthelme and several of the manuscripts are unpublished.  The primary collection of Barthelme’s papers is housed at the University of Houston.  The University of Delaware’s Donald Barthelme Collection is complemented by extensive holdings of the author’s published works, including galleys, proofs, advanced reader’s editions, signed limited editions, fine press books, art work, and many foreign editions in French, German, Italian, Spanish and other languages.

    The collection is organized in three series.  Series I. Primary Publications contains materials from published and unpublished works by Barthelme and is organized in chronological order.  Items of particular interest in this series include several early typescripts from Come Back, Dr. Caligari (1963) and corrected and revised galleys from Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural Acts (1968), City Life (1970), Guilty Pleasures, (1974), The Dead Father (1975), Amateurs (1976), and Great Days (1978).  In most cases there are multiple copies of the galleys, revealing important compositional and editorial decisions made by the author prior to publication.  The unpublished materials include an early children’s story, “Benjamin Ziff” (n.d.), Snow White, A Play (1974), and a radio play, The Leap (1979).  Additionally, there are several original artworks by Barthelme.  Also included is the typescript for the radioplay, The Conservatory, written in the late 1970s, and a copy of Barthelme’s 1980 Paris Review interview before he extensively re-wrote his replies.

    Series II. Correspondence contains letters both to and from Barthelme, as well as a few items related to the bibliographic scholar Jerome Klinkowitz.  Additionally, the correspondence between Lee Campbell, a book dealer, and Kim Herzinger, editor of The Teachings of Don B. (1992), reveals useful information concerning the unpublished Snow White: A Play with Music; two typescript versions of this piece are included in the collection (F16).  Some ephemera is also included.

    Series III. contains published periodicals ranging from the earliest appearance of Barthelme’s work in literary journals such as Shenandoah and Fiction to his later work in The New Yorker and Esquire.  The series represents the variety of publications where Barthelme published from the beginning of his career until the end of his life.

    Series List

    I.          Primary Publications Series

    II.         Correspondence Series

    III.       Periodical Series


    Contents List

    Box -- Folder -- Contents

                            I. Primary Publications Series


    1          F1        Benjamin Ziff (unpublished children’s book), n.d.

    Typescript with typed and autograph corrections, 27 pp.


    F2        “The Joker’s Greatest Triumph” (unpublished), 1963

    Photocopy of a typescript, 9 pp.


    F3        “On Channel Seven” (published as “Shower of Gold”), 1963

    Typescript with minor autograph and typed corrections, 16 pp.


    F4        Publisher’s questionnaire, 1963

    Typed replies to publisher’s general information questionnaire concerning Barthelme’s activities as a writer.  Dated 17 Nov 1963. 8 pp.


    Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural Acts, 1968

    F5        Galley proofs 1

    Autograph corrections in Barthelme’ s hand, signed in pencil.  “AUTHOR’S PROOF | NOV 8 1967” stamped on all sheets (pages 1-2 also stamped “NOV 6”).  The story “Alice” is lacking. 


    F6        Galley proofs 2

    Author’s typed and autograph corrections on a few pages, signed by Barthelme in pencil.  Alice” included.


    F7        Uncorrected proof from Garrar, Straus & Giroux

    Spiral-bound proof with paper covers, “Alice” is not included. 



    F8        “Kierkegaard Unfair to Schlegel,” n.d.

    Photocopy of typescript with “OLD VERSION” circled in pencil in [Barthelme’s] hand.  11pp.



    City Life, 1970

    F9        Galley

    Typesetter’s copy with autograph corrections in Barthelme’s hand, including inserted typed additions.  72 leaves.


    F10      Uncorrected galley proof, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (publication date April 1970)

    Spiral-bound proof with paper covers.  Publisher’s letter to advance readers, 1/13/70, laid in.  Autograph notes on a few pages.



    F11      “A Nation of Wheels,” 1970

    Reprinted from the New Yorker June 13, 1970.

                I. Primary Publications Series (cont’d)


    Guilty Pleasures, 1974

    1          F12      Galley 1

    Editor’s and printer’s copy; “Long galleys” with some autograph corrections in Barthelme’s hand, “date received 7/12 1974.” 


    F13      Galley 2

    Page proofs/editor’s copy with autograph correction, 8/1/1974.


    F14      Galley 3

    Page proofs with autograph and typed corrections by the author.  Includes 3 typesetting layout sheets.  Signed by Barthelme in pencil.



    F15      “The music critic Peter Yates,” 1974

    Typescript photocopy with autograph corrections and signed by Barthelme, 8pp.  2 copies. 


    F16      Snow White: A Play With Music, 1974

    (Unpublished) typescript with autograph corrections by Barthelme, signed in pencil on title page.  79pp.  Housed in a custom made slipcase.  See F43.


    F17      “A Manual for Sons,” April 10, 1975

    “One section of The Dead Father.” Photocopied New Yorker galleys with autograph corrections; TL(x)S from Barthelme; cover memo from Roger [Angell].  24 pp.


    The Dead Father, 1975

    F18      Galley 1

    Stamped “MASTER PROOF” in red dated “JUL 3 1975.”  Autograph corrections in Barthelme’s hand and one other.  Signed by Barthelme. 


    F19      Galley 2

    Autograph corrections by Barthelme.



                            Amateurs, 1976

    F20      Galley proofs 1

    Stamped “JUL 14 1976” in black ink and “MASTER PROOF” in red ink.  Autograph corrections “in black” and signed in pencil by Barthelme.  Includes the story “The Death of Edward Lear.”


    F21      Galley proofs 2

    Typed and autograph corrections by Barthelme, stories re-ordered and “Lear” dropped. 


                            I.  Primary Publications Series (cont’d)


    Amateurs, 1976 (cont’d)

    F22      Galley proofs 3

    Minor corrections in the author’s hand, stories in their new order, signed in pencil by Barthelme.


    F23      Blue line proofs, 2 copies. 

    6 unbound and unsewn signatures.

    Copy 1: dated “9/22/76” with minor correction throughout in an unknown hand.

    Copy 2: uncorrected and smaller in dimension with edges trimmed. 



    Here in the Village, [1978]

    F24      Camera-ready artwork for the frontispiece for Here in the Villiage.


    F25      Loose pages.

    Frontispiece and colophon, signed by Barthelme.  2 leaves.



    F26      “In the morning post I received…” [1978]

    Typescript photocopy of a questionnaire for Writer’s Digest on writing and drinking.  2 pp.



    F27      “The Leap,” [1979]

    Typescript of [unpublished] “radio play, ” “N.P.R,” in clamshell box.  29 pp.



    Great Days, 1979

    F28      Galley proofs 1

    Typed and autograph corrections by Barthelme and taped in revisions; signed by Barthelme in pencil; includes “Alexandria and Henrietta.” 


    F29      Galley proofs 2

    Autograph corrections in Barthelme’s hand and taped in revisions; signed by Barthelme.  Includes “Alexandria and Henrietta” and bookseller’s description laid in.  Stamped “MASTER SET” in blue ink.


    F30      Galley proofs 3

    “Page proofs | Printer’s marks” written in pencil on first sheet, stamped “MASTER SET” in blue ink; signed by Barthelme in pencil.  Alexandria and Henrietta” replaced by “Concerning the Bodyguard.”


                I.  Primary Publications Series (cont’d)


    Great Days, 1979 (cont’d)

    F31      Galley proofs 4

    “REVISED | GALLEYS” written in ink on first sheet, stamped “MASTER SET” in blue ink.  Autograph note on verso of final sheet dated “9/11/78.”


    F32      Dust jacket art work and printer’s proofs

    Design not used for the published edition.


    Theatre program, June 1983

    American Place Theatre, New York, directed by J. Ranelli.


    F33      The Conservatory, n.d. [before 1979]

    Typescript radio play with autograph corrections by Barthelme, signed in pencil on title page.  29pp.  Housed in slipcase.  First published in The Teachings of Don B. (1992), but the script also contains material from Great Days (1979). 



    F34      New Yorker Film Review manuscripts, 1979

    Typescripts with autograph and typed corrections, galleys,

    Proofs, and tear-sheets for 7 film reviews for the New Yorker magazine in 1979.


    F35      Sunny Marge, [Toothpaste Press for Bookslinger, 1980]

    Camera-ready artwork, paste-up, and proof print of broadside, printed on occasion of author’s reading at Walker Art Center, May 1, 1980 [St. Paul].  With TLs, Barthelme to Mr. Kornblum, all housed in portfolio 16 Broadsides, Walker Art Center Reading Series, 1979-1980.


    F36      Bread and Butter Letter, [1980]

    Color photocopy collage.  One of perhaps 5 copies created for Ann Beattie.


    F37      Paris Review Interview, “Rough Draft #1,” [1980]

    Typescript photocopy of the original interview, before Barthelme’s extensive changes.  37 pp.


    F38      Overnight to Many Distant Cities, 1983

    Photocopy of corrected typescript with ANs, Al Silverman to Clifton Fadiman, 4/19/83. 100 pp.


                II. Correspondence Series


    1          F39      Letters from Barthelme to Herman Gollob, editor at Little, Brown.


    [1963]                    TLS                       1p

    [1963]                    TLS                       1p

    [1963]                    TLS                       1p

    [1963]                    TL                          1p

    [1963]                    TLS                       1p

    n.d.                        TLS                       1p

    16 Jul 1963            TL(c)                     1p

    n.d.                        TLS                       1p

    [1963]                    TLS                       2p (includes contents list for Dr. Calgari)



    F40      Letters to Barthelme from Dorothy McKittrick, Doubleday & Co., concerning the O’Henry Awards


    [20 Aug 1964]       TLS                       1p

    26 Aug 1966          TLS                       1p



    F41      “Insatiable Art and the Great American Quotidian,” 1973

    Typescripts of Jerome Klinkowitz’s review of Barthelme’s Sadness.  Includes multiple drafts heavily corrected by Klinkowitz and photocopy of the published article (Chicago Review, Fall 1973)


    Jerome Klinkowitz correspondence, 1972 – 1976

    Letters to Klinkowitz (Dept of English, Univ of Northern Iowa) concerning Barthelme from Robert Giroux, Richard Hack, and Henry Robbins.  8 TLs. 



                II. Correspondence Series (cont’d)


    1          F42      Barthelme correspondence with Jerome Klinkowitz, 1972 – 1980

    All correspondence is TLS from Barthelme to Klinkowitz unless otherwise noted.  Includes 17 typed envelopes from DB to JK.  Most of the letters are dated in pencil in [Klinkowitz’s] hand. 


    n.d.                        1p

    n.d.                        1p

    5/30/72               1p              Includes 6pp photocopy typescript of an interview between DB and JK and 2pp TLS from JK to DB.



    8/2/72                 1p

    8/14/72               1p

    “8/18?/72”             1p              Includes 5pp typescript of DB’s writings compiled by JK and annotated by DB, also a 1p TLS from JK to DB.


    5/5/75                 1p

    10/9/75               1p

    2/13/76               1p

    9/14/76               1p              Includes 1p typescript list with corrections.

    2/4/77                 1p

    7/28/77               1p              Typed reply on JK’s letter dated January 27, 1977.

    2/6/79                 1p

    “4/79”                    1p              Photocopy of news clipping with autograph note.

    3 Jan 1980             1p

    24 Mar 1980          1p

    31 Oct 1980          1p



    F43      Lee Campbell – Kim Herzinger Correspondence, 1991

    Correspondence between Campbell and Herzinger discussing two Barthelme typescripts, Snow White: a Play with Music and the unpublished Benjamin Ziff story.  Includes photocopies of Herzinger’s manuscripts and two TLs dated November 4, 1991 and November 11, 1991.  See F16 and F1.


    F44      Ephemera, 1971 – 1989 (3 items)

    Poetry Center flyer, autographed by Barthelme, Grace Paley, and Richard Gilman, 29 Nov 1971.  UCLA public lecture flyer, February 11, n.y.  University of Houston Memorial Service flyer, 24 Sept 1989. 


                III.  Periodical Series


    Contributions by Barthelme are cited in quotation marks.


    Forum (Houston: The University of Houston)

    2          F45      Summer 1960, Donald Barthelme, editor

    “The Emerging Figure,” Summer 1961

    Spring/Summer 1964


    F46      “The Hiding Man,” in First Person, (Boston) Spring/Summer 1961.

                “The Big Broadcast of 1938,” in New World Writing 20.  Philadelphia: Lippincot, 1962.


                F47      “Viennese Opera Ball,”

                            in Contact: the San Francisco Collection of New Writing, Art, and Ideas.  Sausalito: Angel Island Publications, June 1962.


                F48      “The Darling Duckling at School,”

                             in Contact: the San Francisco Collection of New Writing, Art, and Ideas.  Sausalito: Angel Island Publications, February 1961. (2:7)

                “To London and Rome” in Genesis West 5.  San Francisco: Chrysalis West Foundation, Fall 1963. (2:5)


                F49      “Will You Tell Me?”

                            in Art and Literature: an International Review. Lausanne: S.E.L.A., March 1964. No. 1

                “Can We Talk,” in Art and Literature: an International Review. Lausanne: S.E.L.A., Summer 1965. No. 5

                 “Then,” by Barthelme and Laura Lee Hope, in Mother: a Journal of New Literature. Northfield, Minn., Nov/Dec 1964.  No. 3.


                F50      “Several Garlic Tales,” in Paris Review, Spring 1966.  No. 37.

                Alice,” in Paris Review, Summer 1968.  No. 43. 


    F51      “Mouth,” in Paris Review, Fall 1969.  No. 48.  (2 copies.) 



    F52      “Robert Kennedy Saved from Drowning,”

                            in New American Review Number 3. New York: New American Library, 1968.

                Alexandria and Henrietta,” in New American Review Number 12. New York: Simon and Schuster Touchstone Book, 1971.


    The Dutton Review.  New York: E.P. Dutton, 1970.  No. 1 (nothing by DB)


    III.  Periodical Series (cont’d)


                F53      Fiction. New York: Fiction, Inc., 1973. Vol. 1, no. 4.  Layout by Barthelme

    “The Angry Young Man,” in Fiction.  New York: Fiction, Inc., 1973.  Vol.2, no. 1.


                F54      “The Farewell Party,” in Fiction.  New York: Fiction, Inc., 1980. Vol 6, no. 2


                “A Symposium on Fiction,” Donald Barthelme, William Gass, Grace Paley, Walker Percy in Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee University Review.  Lexington: Washington and Lee University, Winter 1976.  Vol. XXVII, No. 2.


    F55      “Thomas B. Hess,” in Art in America, Nov/Dec 1978.  Vol. 66, no. 6.


                F56      “Aria,” in The New Yorker, Mar 12, 1979.

    “The Current Cinema,” in The New Yorker, Oct 1, 1979.


    F57      “The Emerald,” in Esquire, Nov 1979.  Vol. 92, no.5.

                            Paradise Before the Egg,” Aug 1986.  Vol. 106, no.2.


                F58      “The Educational Experience,” in Harper’s, June 1973.  Vol. 246, no. 1477


    F59      “The Expedition,” in Audience.  New York an dBost: Hill Publishing Co.,  Jul/Aug 1972.  Vol. 2, no.4


    F60      David Salle, 27 April to 25 May, 1985 [exhibition catalog]

                            Mary Boone / Michael Werner Gallery, 417 West Broadway, New York.  Introduction by John Hawkes.  With envelope. (Nothing by Barthelme)


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