University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department


Lyle Bongé - James Leo Herlihy
Correspondence

1968 - 1993

Manuscript Collection Number: 454
Accessioned: Purchased, November 2002
Extent: .6 linear ft.
Content: Letters, postcards, photographs, news clippings
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: November 2002 by Gerald Cloud

for reference assistance email Special Collections
or contact:

Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
(302) 831-2229


Table of Contents


Biographical Note

James Leo Herlihy

The American novelist and playwright James Leo Herlihy was born in Detroit, Michigan, on February 27, 1927; he died in Los Angeles, October 21, 1993. After leaving high school, Herlihy enlisted in the Navy in 1945, receiving his overseas orders just two days before the end of World War II. From 1947-48, with money from the G.I. Bill, Herlihy attended Black Mountain College in North Carolina, a small, experimental institution whose faculty included Merce Cunningham, John Cage, William De Kooning, and other innovative figures in the arts. At Black Mountain Herlihy studied art, music, and literature, sharing an attic dorm with Arthur Penn and Lyle Bongé.

Herlihy formed strong relationships in the Black Mountain community, and his friendships with such figures as Anais Nin and the poet/potter M. C. Richards would provide inspiration and support in his future creative endeavors. Herlihy made his start in the theater when he moved to California and attended the Pasadena Playhouse College from 1948-1950. Over the next four years, Herlihy performed in about fifty plays in theaters along the West Coast. In the early sixties, he became a member of the Theater Company of Boston, and he continued acting, off and on, throughout his life. Some highlights of his theatrical career included roles in Edward Albee’s Zoo Story (which he performed in Paris and Boston in 1963) and in the film Four Friends (1982).

The Pasadena Playhouse also produced Herlihy’s first plays: Streetlight Sonata (1950) and Moon in Capricorn (1953). In 1953, Herlihy collaborated with his teacher William Noble on the play Blue Denim, which had a successful run on Broadway in 1958 and was adapted into a film in 1959. From 1953-1958, Herlihy wrote scripts for television. In 1959, he directed Tallulah Bankhead in a touring production of his play Crazy October. A trio of Herlihy’s one-act plays, collected under the title Stop You’re Killing Me (1970), included Terrible Jim Fitch (produced in 1965), Bad Bad Jo-Jo (produced in 1969), and Laughs, Etc. (produced in 1973).

Herlihy was also successful as a fiction writer. In 1952, the Paris Review published a short story that would become the title work of his 1959 collection, The Sleep of Baby Filbertson and Other Stories. His first novel, All Fall Down (1960), was followed by Midnight Cowboy (1965). This latter work was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film, and much of Herlihy’s lasting fame is based on the film’s popularity. Herlihy is also the author of a collection of short stories and plays, A Story That Ends in a Scream and Eight Others (1967), and a novel about a young teenage runaway, The Season of the Witch (1971).

Beginning in the late 1960s Herlihy taught acting and writing at many institutions, including playwriting courses at City College, New York (1967-68), and he served as distinguished visiting professor at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, in 1983.

Herlihy traveled extensively throughout the United States and Europe, but lived for much of his life in Los Angeles, California. He also resided in Key West, Florida, in the late sixties and early seventies, and in New York City during various intervals.

 

Lyle Bongé

The photographer, artist, and sailor Lyle Bongé was born November 5, 1929 [cf. letter dated 5 Nov 1987, F17], the son of Dusti Bongé (b. 1903- ), the Southern abstract painter. Originally from Biloxi, Mississippi, Bongé attended Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where he studied art and shared a dormitory with James Leo Herlihy. Bongé has published two photographic collections, The Sleep of Reason: Lyle Bongé’s Ultimate Ash-Hauling Mardi Gras Photographs (1974) and The Photographs of Lyle Bongé (1982). His Mardi Gras photographs are characterized by a close-up intimacy, which tames the wildness of the New Orleans festival, while his landscapes and cityscapes combine strong lines with hallucinogenic abstractions. More recently, Bongé’s art work has extended to metal sculpture and pottery.

Bongé is also an accomplished sailor and boat-maker, and in 1968 he set a world record for a single-handed crossing of the Gulf of Mexico. During the early 1980s he left Biloxi for New York City, where he lived for several years before returning to the Gulf Coast and sailing. His other activities included remodeling old houses, landscaping, cooking, and he also served as director of a family bank in Mississippi.

Sources:

Bongé, Lyle. "Obituary: James Leo Herlihy." The Independent (London), 29 Oct., 1993: 16.

Kendle, Burton S. "James Leo Herlihy," Contemporary American Dramatists. Ed. K.A. Berney. Detroit: St. James Press, 1994. pp. 261-265.

"James Leo Herlihy, 66, Novelist who wrote Midnight Cowboy." New York Times, 22 Oct., 1993: B9.

Olendorf, Donna, ed. Contemporary Authors. Volume.143. Detroit: Gale Research Co, 1994: 191.

Roberts, Gregory. "A Sailor and the Sea." The Times-Picayune, Dixie Magazine, 1 July, 1984: 6-10.

Note: Biographical information also derived from the collection.


Scope and Content Note

The correspondence of James Leo Herlihy and Lyle Bongé spans the dates 1968 – 1993. The majority of the letters in the collection were written by Bongé (indicated “LB to JH” in the finding aid), but a significant number of Herlihy’s letters are present, providing a consistent sense of the dialogue between the two lifelong friends.

The letters are arranged chronologically, with the exception of a few undated letters and fragments and a small number of letters between other correspondents, which are housed separately at the end of the collection. Also included in the collection are several notes and cards from Herlihy’s desk.

Although the letters begin in 1968, Herlihy’s and Bongé’s friendship dates from their days as dormitory-mates at Black Mountain College during the late 1940s, and their letters are personal and intimate. The general topic of discussion includes the various projects and activities of each correspondent and news of their mutual acquaintances. Art and literature are frequently mentioned by both writers and the overall collection provides a good sense of each correspondent’s ideas and philosophies on these topics. The other dominant topics include financial advice and money concerns, daily and family life, travel plans and experiences. The later letters, most of which were written by Bongé, are dominated by a passion for sailing, appreciation of good food and cooking, opinions on financial matters, and, of great interest to both correspondents, sex.

The general tone of the correspondence is upbeat and displays the strong bond of friendship that existed between Bongé and Herlihy. The correspondence runs until the month before Herlihy’s death and the collection’s final letter reflects on mortality and the physical and mental decline that comes with age and disease.

Related Collections:

Ms 344 James Leo Herlihy Papers

Ms 163 Paul Bowles Papers


Contents List

Box -- Folder -- Contents


 		  Herlihy – Bongé Correspondence

1    F1   1968 Tuesday   TLS    2p      LB to JH
               
          1969 Jan 10    TLS    1p
               Jan 19    TLS    1p
               Aug 11    TLS    1p
               Aug 11    TLS    1p
               n.d.      TLS    1p
               n.d.      TLS    1p
               n.d.      TLS(x) 1p      LB to JH
     
     F2   1970 Jul 1     TLS    1p
               Nov 23    TLS    1p
     
     F3   1971 Jul 22    ALS    1p
               Nov 21    TLS    1p
     
          [1972]         Jul 12 TLS     1p   LB to JH
     
     F4   1973 Jan 31    ALS    1p
               Feb 22    ALS    1p
               Apr 25    ALS    1p
               May 5     ALS    2p
               Dec 8     ACS    1p
               n.d.      TLS    1p
               n.d.      TLS    3p      LB to JH
     
     F5   1974 Mar 27    ALS    2p
               [Nov]     TLS(x) 2p      LB to JH
               n.d.      ALS(x) 1p      LB to JH
     
     F6   1975 Apr 5     TLS    1p
               Jun 8     ALS    1p
               n.d.      TLS    1p      LB to JH
               Includes photocopy of “The Banshees” 12pp.
     
               Aug 14    TLS    1p
               Aug 17    ALS    1p
               Sep 24    ALS    1p      (with envelope)
               Oct 26    TLS    1p
               Nov 30    ALS    1p
     
     F7   1976 Aug 16    TLS    2p
               [Nov 12-3]       TLS     3p   LB to JH
               Includes photocopy of the letter with autograph notes
     
     F8   1977 Jan 11    TLS    1p
               Jan 20    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Mar 23    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               May 6     TLS    2p
               n.d.      TLS    3p      LB to JH
               June      ALS    3p      (with envelope)
               Includes letter and envelope from Henry Faulkner to JH:
               Jun 8     ALS    5p      Faulkner to JH
     
               n.d.      TLS    3p      LB to JH
               Aug 3     TLS    1p
               Aug 10    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Sep 26    TLS    1p
     
     F9   1978 Nov 13    TLS    1p
               [Sep 9]   TLS    1p      (with envelope)
     
          1979 Feb 19    TLS    1p      (with envelope)
               Jul 31    ALS    1p      (with envelope)
               n.d.      TLS    1p      LB to JH
               Oct       TLS    1p      LB to JH
               Nov 24    ALS    3p
     
1    F10  1980 Feb 18    ALS    1p
               Feb       ALS    1p      (with envelope)
               Jul 2     ALS    3p
               Jul 30    TLS    1p      (with envelope)
     
     F11  1981 Feb 28    TL(c)  1p      LB to JH
               Mar 5     TLS    3p      (with envelope)
               Includes 1p “excerpt from letter to Thygesen, March 5”
     
               May 12    TLS    1p
               Jun 10    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               n.d.      ALS    2p      LB to JH
               Sep 1     TLS    1p      (with envelope)
               Dec 1     ALS    3p      (with envelope)
     
     F12  1982 (?)       TLS    1p      LB to JH
               Feb 25    ALS    1p      (with envelope)
               Feb       TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Mar 18    TLS    2p      (with envelope)
               Includes Bongés’s “Lessons for Myself 1968.”

     
               Mar 26    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Includes photocopied article on Bongé.
     
               Mar 26    TLS    1p      LB to JH
               May 25    ACS    1
               Jun 21    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Oct 26    TLS    2p
               Sunday    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Sep 24-5  TLS    2p      LB to JH
               n.d.      TLS    2p      LB to JH
     
     F13  1983 Jul 31    TLS    2p
               Aug 13    TLS    3p
               Aug 30    TLS    4p      LB to JH
               Aug 31    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Sep 16    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Sep 17    TLS    1p
               Dec 23    TLS    2p
               Late Dec  TLS    3p      LB to JH
               Friday    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               n.d.      TLS    3p      LB to JH
               n.d.      TLS(x) 2p      LB to JH
     
     F14  1984 Monday    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Includes “Life in the Institution” 2p
     
               Apr 25    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               May 17    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Jun 1     TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Jul 4     TLS    1p      LB to JH
               Includes news clipping from Dixie magazine
     
               n.d.      TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Nov 8     TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Dec 8     TLS    1p      LB to JH
     
     F15  1985 Jan 8     TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Jan 23    TLS    2p      (with envelope)
               Jan 30    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Includes photocopy.
     
               Feb 3     TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Mar 5-12  TLS    4p      LB to JH

     
               May 4     TLS    4p      LB to JH
               Includes 2p photocopy of “Zeroes Above”
     
               May 27-Jun 6     TLS     1p   LB to JH
               Jun 6 or 7       TLS     5p   LB to JH
               Jul 1     TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Jul 25    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Aug 5     TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Aug 8     TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Sep 12    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Oct 7     TLS    4p      LB to JH
               Nov 10    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Nov 15    TLS    2p
               Nov 26    TLS    2p      LB to JH
     
     F16  1986 Jan 1     TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Jan 11    TLS(x) 2p      LB to JH
               Jan 26    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Feb 7     TLS    2p
               Feb 21    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Mar 19    TLS    1p      LB to JH
               Mar 27    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Apr 14    TLS    1p      LB to JH
               Apr 24    TLS    1p
               Apr 28 or 29     TLS     2p   LB to JH
               May 26    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Late May  TLS    2p      (with envelope)
               Jun 10 or 11     TLS     2p   LB to JH
               Jul 6     TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Jul 25    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Aug 1     TLS    3p      (with envelope)
               Aug 3     TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Aug 7     TLS(x) 1p      LB to JH
               Aug 14    TLS    1p
               Sep 3 or 4       TLS     2p   LB to JH
               Sep 16    TLS    4p      LB to JH
               Sep 30    ACS    1p      (with envelope and 5 photographs)
               Oct 6     TLS    3p      LB to JH
               Nov 3     ACS    1p
               Nov 17    ACS    1p      (with envelope)
               Dec 12    TLS    3p
               Dec 25    TLS    2p      LB to JH
     F17  1987 n.d.      TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Jan 11    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Jan 27    TLS    1p
               Feb 1     TLS    3p      LB to JH
               Feb 21    TLS(x) 2p      LB to JH
               Mar 22    TLS    1p      (with envelope)
               Mar 27    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Apr 12    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               May 3     TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Jun 12    TLS    2p
               Jun 25    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Jul 23    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Jul 26    TLS    4p
               Jul 31    TLS    4p      LB to JH
               Aug 22    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Aug 25    TLS    2p
               Aug 28    TLS/ALS        1p
               Sep 3     TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Sep 27    TLS    2p
               Oct       TLS    5p      LB to JH
               Oct 19    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Oct 29    TLS    3p
               Nov 5     TLS    1p      LB to JH
               [Nov 16]  TLS    3p      LB to JH
               Nov 20    TLS    2p
               Dec 25    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               n.d.      TLS    1p      LB to JH
               n.d.      ALS    2p      LB to JH
               Monday    TLS(x) 1p      LB to JH
     
2    F18  1988 Jan 8     TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Jan 9     TLS    2p
               Mar 11    TLS    2p      (with envelope)
               Mar 14    TL     2p      LB to JH
               Mar 21    TLS    2p
               Arp 7     TLS    4p      LB to JH
               Apr 8     TLS    4p
               Apr 25    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               May 22    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Jun 3     ALS    2p      (with envelope)
               Jun 8     TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Jul 5     TLS    2p
               Jul 11    TLS    3p      LB to JH
               Includes 1p fragment TL(x)

               Jul 14    TLS    1p      LB to JH
               Jul 23    TLS    3p      (with envelope)
               Jul 28    TLS    3p      LB to JH
               Aug 4     TLS    1p      LB to JH
               Aug 4 or 5       TLS     1p   LB to JH
               Aug 5     TLS    2p
               Aug 6     TLS    3p      LB to JH
               Aug 9     TLS    1p      LB to JH
               Aug 21    TLS(x) 2p      LB to JH
               Aug 22    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Aug 30    TLS    2p      (with envelope)
               n.d.      TLS(x) 2p      LB to JH
               Sep 7     TLS    2p      (with envelope)
               n.d.      TLS    2p      LB to JH
               n.d.      TLS    1p      LB to JH
               Sep 11    TLS    1p      LB to JH
               Sep       TLS    3p      LB to JH
               Sep 20    TLS    3p      (with envelope)
               Oct 6     TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Oct 8     TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Oct 16    TLS    1p      LB to JH
               Oct 17    ALS    3p      (with envelope)
               Includes  TLS    1p dated Sep 15
     
               Oct 24    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Nov 8     ALS    2p      (with envelope)
               n.d.      TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Nov 27-9  TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Dec 24    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               n.d.      TLS    2p      LB to JH
               n.d.      TLS    1p      LB to JH
     
     F19  1989 n.d.      ACS    1p
               Jan 12    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Mar 11    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Mar 11    ALS    1p
               Mar 31    TLS    2p
               Apr 6     TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Apr 24    TLS    1p      (with envelope)
               May 17    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Jun 2     TLS    3p      LB to JH
               Jun 13    TLS    2p
               Jun 17    TLS    5p      LB to JH
               Jun 24    TLS    1p      (with envelope)

                n.d.      TLS    1p      LB to JH
               Includes brochure with photo of Dusti Bongé and
               biographic infomation.
     
               Jul 7     TLS    1p      LB to JH
               Includes 2p letter from “Charlotte Lyle.”
     
               Jul 26    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Aug 11    TLS    3p
               Aug 19    TLS    1p      LB to JH
               Typed on the verso of a Mississippi Museum of Art
               letter announcing “The Bonges: Three Generations”
               exhibition.
     
               Sep 6     TLS    4p
               Nov 7     TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Nov 9     TLS    1p
               Nov 16    TLS    1p      LB to JH
               Thanksgiving     TLS     2p   LB to JH
               Dec 4     TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Dec 16 or 17     TLS     2p   LB to JH
     
     F20  1990 Jan 8     TLS    1p
               Feb 14    TLS    3p      LB to JH
               Feb 20    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Mar 10    ALS    1p
               Apr 16    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               May 14    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               May 17    TLS    1p
               May 21    TLS    2p      LB to JH (with news clipping)
               May 27    TLS    2p
               Jun 2     TLS    4p      LB to JH
               June      TLS    2p
               July      TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Jul 11-2  TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Summer    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Aug 18    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Sep 6     TLS    4p
               Sep 10    TLS    4p      LB to JH
               Sep 13-4  TLS    2p      LB to JH
               September TLS    3p      LB to JH
               Oct 1     TLS    3p      (with envelope)
               Oct 2     TLS    2p      (with envelope)
               Oct 13    TLS    4p      (with envelope)
               Oct 17    TLS(x) 2p      LB to JH
               Oct 26    ACS    1p
     
               Nov 10    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               November  ALS    3p
               Dec 9     ALS    3p      LB to JH
               Dec 23    TLS    1p      LB to JH
               Dec 26    TLS    2p      (with envelope)
     
     F21  1991 Jan 5     TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Jan 18    TLS    1p      LB to JH
               n.d.      TLS    1p
               Jan 27    ALS    1p      (with envelope)
               Feb 3     TLS    3p      (with envelope)
               Mar       TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Mar 16    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Apr 2     TLS    1p      (with envelope)
               Apr 21    TLS    4p      LB to JH
               May 6-7   TLS    3p
               May 11    TLS    4p      LB to JH
               Jun 17    TLS(x) 2p      LB to JH
               Jun 28    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Jul 6     TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Jul 27    TLS    2p      (with envelope)
               Aug       TLS    4p      LB to JH
               Aug 7     TLS    1p      LB to JH
               Aug 21    TLS    2p
               Aug 30    TLS    3p      LB to JH
               Sep 12    TLS    1p      LB to JH
               Sep 17    TLS(x) 1p      LB to JH
               Sep 22    TLS    3p
               [Sep] 29-30      TLS(x)  3p   LB to JH
               Nov 8     TLS    1p
               Nov 21    TLS(x) 1p      LB to JH
               Dec 9     TLS    2p      (with envelope)
               Dec 13    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Dec 22    TL     1p
               Dec 28    TLS    1p      (with envelope and news clipping)
     
 1    F22  1992 Jan 4     TLS    4p      LB to JH
               Jan 13    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Jan 22    TLS    2p      with 1p ACS
               Jan 26    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Feb 1     TLS    1p      LB to JH
               Feb 2 or 3       TLS     2p   LB to JH
               Feb 15    TLS    1p      LB to JH
               Feb [20]  TLS    2p      LB to JH

               Apr 7     TLS    1p      LB to JH
               Apr 8     TLS    5p      LB to JH
               May 10    TLS(x) 2p      LB to JH
               May 15    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Jun 12    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Jun 26    ACS    1p
               Jul 11    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Jul       TLS    4p      (with envelope)
               Jul 27    TLS(x) 3p      LB to JH
               Aug 6     TLS(x) 4p      LB to JH
               Aug 21    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Includes undated 2p fragment and “Natasha Goldowski,” 2p.
     
               Aug       TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Sep 6     ALS    2p
               Sep 14    TLS    1p      LB to JH
               Oct 2     ALS    5p
               Nov 14    ALS    1p      (with envelope)
               Nov 20    ALS    4p
               Nov       TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Nov 27    TLS    2p      LB to JH
               Nov 28 ALS     1p   discusses the return
               of Bongé’s letters.
               Nov 29 TLS(x)  5p   LB to JH
               Dec 9  TLS     3p
               Dec 13 TLS     2p   LB to JH
               Dec 20 TLS     2p   LB to JH
               Dec 25 TLS     2p   LB to JH
     
    F23 1993  Jan 7     TLS    2p      LB to JH
                Feb 12 TLS     2p   LB to JH
                [Feb 20]       TLS  2p   LB to JH
                 Feb 27 TLS     3p   LB to JH
                 Feb 19 TLS     2p
                 Mar 7  TLS     1p   LB to JH
                 Mar 27 TLS     2p
                 May 11 TLS     2p   LB to JH
                 May    TLS(x)  2p   LB to JH
                 Jun 9  TLS     2p   LB to JH
                 Jun 28 TL(x)   1p
                 Jun 13 TLS     2p   LB to JH
                 Jul 8  TL(x)   2p   LB to JH (fragment)
                 [Jul 10]       TLS(x)    2p   LB to JH
                 Jul 20-30      TLS  2p
                 Jul 19 TLS(x)  3p   LB to JH
                 Aug 3  TLS(x)  2p   LB to JH
                 Aug 5  TLS(x)  2p   LB to JH
                 Aug 18 TLS(x)  1p
                 Aug 19 TLS(x)  4p   LB to JH
                 [Sep 2]  TLS(x)/ALS(x)  5p
                         Includes what may be fragments from different letters
                 Sep 9  TL(x)   1p   LB to JH
                 Oct 22 Photocopy of Herlihy’s obituary from the London
						 Independent, written by Lyle Bongé.
     
     F24       Undated letters and fragments, 26 items.
     
     F25       Miscellaneous letters from other correspondents,
               10 items.
     
     F26       James Leo Herlihy desk notes, 14 items
     

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