University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

James Leo Herlihy Papers

1959 - 1986

Manuscript Collection Number: 344
Accessioned: Purchase, July 1996.
Extent: 1.6 linear ft.
Content: Manuscripts, correspondence, notes, photographs,
clippings, reviews, interviews, advertisements, brochures, and programs.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: October 1997 by Shanon Wilson.

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Table of Contents

Biographical Note

James Leo Herlihy's stories about the underside of American culture, told through the experiences of those outside of the mainstream, have garnered their author comparisons with Sherwood Anderson. Herlihy was born in Detroit, Michigan, on February 27, 1927. After leaving high school, he 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. There, Herlihy studied art, music, and literature.

Herlihy formed strong relationships in the Black Mountain community, and his friendships with such figures as Anais Nin and the poet/potter M. C. (Mary Caroline) Richards would provide inspiration and support in his future creative endeavors. After an aptitude test indicated that his abilities might lie in the theatre, Herlihy 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 one of his short stories that would become the title work of his 1959 collection, The Sleep of Baby Filbertson and Other Stories. His first novel, All Fall Down, was published in 1960, and 1965 saw the appearance of Midnight Cowboy. This latter work was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film, and much of Herlihy's lasting fame is based on the popularity of that movie. Despite this acclaim, Herlihy would only publish two more books: a collection of short stories and plays entitled 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).

If Herlihy became more ambivalent about his writing over the years, he developed an increasing enthusiasm for teaching. He led classes in playwriting at City College, New York, in 1967-68, and was a distinguished visiting professor at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, in 1983. He also taught acting and writing at many other institutions, including Colorado College and the University of Southern California.

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. Herlihy died on October 20, 1993.


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. p. 191.

Note: Biographical information also derived from the collection. For supplemental genealogical information, please contact the manuscripts librarian for assistance with the collection folder.

Scope and Content Note

The papers of American author and playwright James Leo Herlihy span the dates 1959-1986. The collection consists of 1.6 linear feet of manuscripts of novels, stories, and plays; reviews; interviews; correspondence; publicity material; and notes.

The collection is organized in three series: I. Works by James Leo Herlihy, II. Correspondence of James Leo Herlihy to Mary Caroline Richards, and III. Miscellaneous Publicity, including photographs and theatre reviews.

The manuscripts of Herlihy's works are arranged chronologically by date of publication or, if unpublished, in order of composition based on editorial revisions. The series includes original typescript drafts of several of Herlihy's plays and novels, some photocopies, two setting typescripts, and several pages of notes. Many of these pages contain numerous autograph revisions by the author. The collection contains multiple drafts of four of the works: Herlihy's unfinished and unpublished musical adaption of Carson McCuller's Member of the Wedding (1967); two short stories, A Story That Ends with a Scream (1967) and Sweet William (1967); and his last novel, Season of the Witch (1971). The series also contains photocopies of reviews and promotional interviews with Herlihy which appeared in newspapers around the country with the release of Season of the Witch.

Section II contains Herlihy's correspondence to M.C. Richards, one of his instructors at Black Mountain College who remained a valuable friend throughout his life. The letters cover the years 1959 to 1986, although the correspondence is sparse in the early sixties and the mid - eighties, and there are gaps in 1971 and 1984. Some letters include enclosures of other correspondence, articles, or photographs.

M.C. Richards (b. 1916) is a poet, potter, and scholar, whose writings include lectures on pottery and education, poetry, and a translation of Artaud's Theatre of Cruelty. An influential member of the Black Mountain community, she helped John Cage bring about the first Happening in 1958. She apparently lived on Herlihy's farm, Jeffers Pond, in Hop Bottom, Pennsylvania, from 1971 to 1975. In his letters to her, Herlihy discussed his writing, acting, and teaching, as well as his experiences with friends in Los Angeles, where he primarily resided from 1973 onward. The correspondence also contains many references to the Black Mountain community, as well as references to Anais Nin, whom he looked after during her final illness, and Tennessee Williams, his fellow Key West resident. In other letters, Herlihy critiques -- sometimes harshly, more often admiringly -- the lectures and writings of his former teacher. Additionally, the correspondence reflects several contemporary concerns of the late sixties and seventies, including communal living and alternative health and nutrition.

Series III contains a miscellany of material that was probably used for promotional purposes. This series contains three black and white photographs of Herlihy from 1964, 1965, and 1967; a scholarly article about Midnight Cowboy; and theatrical reviews from Blue Denim, Terrible Jim Fitch, and the Boston production of Edward Albee's The Zoo Story in which Herlihy starred. Although the material in this series does not present anything close to a comprehensive view of Herlihy's theatrical activities, it does provide an indication of his success on the stage.

Contents List

Box -- Folder -- Contents

1         Series I.  Works by James Leo Herlihy
          Arranged chronologically in order of publication or, if unpublished, of

          Crazy October (1959)
     F1   Draft, n.d.
          Typescript with autograph corrections.

     F2   Clean version, n.d.
          Photocopied, bound

          A Story That Ends With A Scream and Eight Others (1967)
          Folders F3-F9 contain drafts of several of the stories and plays included in
          Herlihy's collection.

     F3   "Laughs Et Cetera," n.d.
          Typescript with autograph corrections

     F4   "Ezra," n.d.
          Typescript with autograph corrections.  Early version of the short story "A Story
          that Ends With A Scream."  One draft entitled "Second Draft,"  along with pages
          of rewrites.

     F5   "You'll Know Him When You See Him," n.d.
          Typescript with autograph corrections.  Early version of the short story "A Story
          That Ends With A Scream,"  which appears to be a revision of the material in F4.

     F6   "Sweet William," n.d.
          Typescript with autograph corrections.  Contains an outline of the story and three
          early drafts.

     F7   "Love and the Buffalo," n.d.
          Typescript with minor autograph corrections. Bound in Ashley Famous Agency

          A Story That Ends with a Scream and Eight Others, 1967 
     F8   Typescript setting copy from Simon and Schuster.  Contains some mimeo. 
          Part I  includes the first four stories: 
          "A Story That Ends with a Scream" 
          "Love and the Buffalo" 
          "The Astral Body of a U.S. Mail Truck"
          "The Day of the Seventh Fire"

1         Series I. Works by James Leo Herlihy (cont'd)

     F9   Part 2 includes:
          "Laughs, Etc"  
          "The Fright of Mrs. Yeager"
          "Terrible Jim Fitch"
          "A Ceremony for the Midget"
          "Sweet William"

          Member of the Wedding
          Drafts and notes for a 1967 unpublished musical based on Carson McCullers'
          1946 novel of the same name.

     F10  Draft A, n.d.
          Typescript with autograph corrections.
     F11  Draft B, n.d.
          Typescript with autograph corrections.  Some xerox. 
     F12  Draft C, n.d.
          Xerox typescript with minor autograph corrections. 
     F13  Notes
          Autograph and typescript with corrections.  Contains a chronology of McCuller's
          novel, an outline for the play, drafts of song lyrics, and drafts of dialogue
          surrounding songs.
          Season of the Witch (1971)
          F14-F29 contain drafts and materials related to Herlihy's novel. Eacb draft has
          been divided into three folders. Divisions occur at the same points in the novel for
          each draft. 

          Season of the Witch, Draft A, n.d.
          Typescript with autograph revisions.

     F14  pps 1-142.
     F15  pps 143-245.
     F16  pps 246-456.

          Season of the Witch, Draft B, n.d.
          Typescript with autograph revisions

     F17  pps 1-142
     F18  pps 143a-245
     F19  pps 246-395

1         Series I. Works by James Leo Herlihy (cont'd)
          Season of the Witch, Draft C, n.d.
          Typescript with minor autograph revisions

     F20  pps 1-142
     F21  pps 143-245b
     F22  pps 246-454

     F23  Notes for Season of the Witch 
          Autograph and typescript materials, many heavily corrected. Much of the notes
          relate to Drafts A, B, and C.
     F24  Notes (cont'd)
     F25  Notes (cont'd)

          Season of the Witch, Setting Copy, 1971
          Typescript from Simon and Schuster.  Proofreader's marks throughout.
2    F26  Setting copy, pp 1- 168
     F27  Setting copy, pp 169 - 290
     F28  Setting copy, pp 291 - 495

     F29  Reviews for Season of the Witch
          Photocopies.  Also includes advertisements.

     F 30 Interviews
          Contains photocopies of written interviews that Herlihy gave while promoting
          Season of the Witch. Includes Simon and book tour intinerary.

     F 31 "The Golden Age," 1969 June 15
          Typescript with autograph revisions.  Records a conversation between Herlihy and
          two others.  Material may relate to Season of the Witch.

          Typescript with autograph revisions.

          Series II. Correspondence
          Consists of the letters from James Leo Herlihy to M.C. Richards, his former
          teacher at Black Mountain College who was a poet and potter.  The letters, which
          are arranged chronologically, describe Herlihy's personal and artistic life.

2    F32  [1959     Sep 16]   ACS       1p
          [1962     Mar 17]   ACS       1p
          1962 Aug 8          ACS       1p
          [1963]              ACS       1p
          [1963     Feb 27]   ACS       1p
          [1963     Apr 22]   ACS       1p

     F33  [1964]              TCS       1p
          [1964     Aug 19]   ACS       1p
          1964 Nov 9          TLS       3p
                     Note: First half of page one autograph.
          1964 Nov 28    TLS       2p
     F34  [1965]    [Jun 30]  TLS       2p
          [1965     Oct 11]   ALS       1p
          [1965     Oct 18]   ALS       5p
          [1965     Oct 30]   ACS       1p

     F35  1966 Jan 12         TLS       1p
          [1966 Jan 17]       ACS       1p
          1966 Jan 28         ALS       1p
          [1966 Mar 18]       ACS       1p
          1966 Nov 26         TLS       1p
               Nov 27         TLS       1p

     F36  1967 Feb 6          TLS       1p
               Jun 4          TLS       2p

3    F37  1968 Jul 15         TLS       3p
                    Note: Includes drawing on letter.
               Aug 15         TLS       2p
               Aug 21         TLS       3p
               Sep 30         ALS       3p
                    Note: includes a 2p TLS from Herlihy to Jake Ross.
          [1968 Nov 1]        TLS       2p

3         Series II. Correspondence (cont'd)

     F38  [1969]              ACS       1p
          1969 Jan 23         ALS       1p
               Apr 16         TLS       1p
               Sep 28         TLS       3p

     F39  1970 Mar 14         TLS       1p
               Jun 19         TLS       2p
          [1970 Nov 13]       TLS       2p
     F40  [1972]              TLS       4p
          [1972]              ALS       6p
          [1972 Mar]          ALS       2p
                    Note: second page typed.
          1972 Mar 14         ALS       2p
               Mar 19         ACS       2p
               Apr 3          ALS       1p
               Oct 16         ALS       1p
                    Note: includes Playboy article on film criticism.

     F41  [1973 Jan 17]       TLS       1p
          1973 Mar 28         TLS       1p
               Apr 25         ALS       2p
                    Note: includes 2p TLS from Joe Frazier to Herlihy.
               Jun 14/15      TLS       5p
               Nov 1          TLS       1p
               Oct 30         TLS       3p

     F42  1974 Jan 19         ALS       2p
                    Note: includes brochure for Villa Vegetariana.
               Feb 18         TLS       1p
               May 4          ALS       3p
               May 6          ALS       2p

          1974 Jul 20         TLS       2p
                    Note: includes US Department of Agriculture inventory/evaluation
                    of Jeffers Pond.
               Aug 31         TLS       7p
                    Note: last page autograph.
          [1974 Sept 17]      ACS       1p
          1974 Nov 2          ACS       1p
               Dec 9          ACS       4p

     F43  [1975 Mar 3]        TLS       1p
          1975 Mar 9          ALS       5p
               May            TLS       3p
                    Note: Last half of third page autograph.
               Aug 4          ALS       2p
               Oct 23         ALS       2p

     F44  1976 Feb 22         TLS       3p
                    Note: includes LA Times review of Anais Nin's A Woman Speaks.
          [1976 Apr]          TLS       1p
                    Note: includes LA Times article on John Cage.
          1976 Oct 1          TLS       2p
          [1976 Dec 8]        ACS       1p
          1976 Dec 21         TLS       13p

     F45  1977 Feb 2/3        TLS       10p
               Feb 22         ALS       3p
                    Note: includes interviews with Herlihy in In Touch, The Advocate,
                    and Gay Weekly. Also includes Plutarch photocopy.
               Apr 29         TLS       1p
               Sep 12         TLS       1p
               Nov 13         TLS       2p

     F46  1978 Apr 2          TLS       3p
          [1978 Oct 3]        ALS       1p
          1978 Dec 28         ALS       2p

     F47  1979 Mar 27         ALS       2p
               Nov 26         TLS       4p

     F48  1980 Aug 27         TLS       2p
               Nov 19         ACS       1p
               Nov 25         ACS       1p

     F49  1981 Jan 14/15      TLS       4p
               Sep 22         ALS       1p

3         Series II. Correspondence (cont'd)
     F50  1982 May 22         ACS       1p        
               Jun 21         ACS       1p
               Jul 6/8        ALS       10p
               Dec 6          ALS       1p
                    Note: includes two drawings.

     F51  1983 Apr 1          TLS      2p

     F52  1985 Feb 25         ACS       1p
               Mar 5          ACS       2p
               Jul 9          ALS       1p

     F53  1986 Feb 9          ACS       2p
                    Note: includes two photographs.
     F54  Undated letters
          [n.d.]              TLS       3p
          [n.d.]              TLS       5p
          [n.d.]              TLS       1p
          [n.d.]              ALS       1p
          [n.d]               ALS       2p
                    Note: includes drawing.
          [n.d.]              TLS       4p
          [n.d.]              ALS       2p
          [n.d]               ACS       2p
          [n.y.]    [6 March] ACS       1p
          [n.d.]              TCS       1p
          [n.d.]              ACS       3p
          [n.d.]              ALS       2p
          [n.d.]              TLS       1p
          [n.d.]              TLS       1p
          [n.y.] Jan 12       ALS       4p

3         Series III. Miscellaneous Publicity
          Contains photographs of Herlihy, flyers, programs, and theatre reviews.
     F55  Photographs
          Contains three photographs of Herlihy from 1964, 1965, and 1967.

     F56  Midnight Cowboy
          Contains a German advertisement for the film, a 1966 Dell Books flyer promoting
          the book, and a photocopied article in the Classical Review by Charles F. Saylor
          entitled "Orpheus in New York: The Classical Descent of Midnight Cowboy."

     F57 Theatre
          Contains a photocopy of an August 13, 1962 Boston Globe review of Albee's Zoo
          Story,  a April 27, 1973 Hollywood Reporter review of Terrible Jim Fitch, a
          program from a Det Norske Teatret production of Blue Denim, and a photocopy of
          two Norwegian reviews of the play, dated February 1 and 9, 1973. 

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