Special Collections Department
Seymour Lawrence Publishing Files
related to Kurt Vonnegut
Manuscript Collection Number: 259
Accessioned: Gift of Seymour Lawrence, May 1987.
Extent: 3.5 linear ft.
Content: Correspondence, photographs, royalty sheets, sales reports,
advertisements, articles, brochures, press releases, reviews, clippings, itineraries, essays,
speeches, jacket copy, cover designs, menus, guest lists, posters, and self portrait.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: October 1992 by Anita Wellner.
Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
Table of Contents
Following his graduation from Harvard, Lawrence pursued a publishing career in Boston. From 1952 to 1954 he worked as special assistant to the editor at the Atlantic Monthly. In 1954 Lawrence moved to the Atlantic Monthly Press, and a year later became the Press's director and editor-in-chief. Lawrence left this position in 1964 after arguing unsuccessfully for unexpurgated publication of J.P. Donleavy's "A Singular Man."
Lawrence's next position was at Alfred A. Knopf in New York, where he became editorial vice president. Discouraged by the weekly commute to New York, Lawrence started his own publishing house in Boston in 1965.
With the creation of Seymour Lawrence, Inc., Lawrence and his wife, Merloyd, became independent publishers. The Lawrences contacted authors and developed their own list of books, but they published in association with a large New York publishing house, Dell, and its hardcover division, Delacorte. Dell and Delacorte financed production, promotion, and distribution in return for a share of the profits.
Lawrence first contacted Kurt Vonnegut in 1966. Vonnegut, whose then current book had sold only 1,500 copies, did not have a regular hardback publisher. By January 30, 1967, he had signed a three book contract with Seymour Lawrence, Inc. Lawrence served as Vonnegut's editor and publisher for over twenty years.
During their association, Lawrence maintained a non-interference policy and functioned more as a friend than an editor to Vonnegut. Their years of correspondence reveal a relationship characterized by humor, mutual support, and honesty. Lawrence remained Vonnegut's editor until the publication of Bluebeard in 1987.
After a brief association with Dutton, Lawrence moved his imprint to Houghton Mifflin in February 1988. As of November 1990, Lawrence continues his career as an independent publisher, providing an essential link between large publishing houses and his writers.
Sources:Frede, Richard. "Seymour Lawrence," Publishers Weekly. Volume 205, no. 18. May 6, 1974. pp. 12-13.
International Year Book and Statesmen's Who's Who. East Grinstead, England: Kelly's Directories, 1990. p. 368.
Scope and Content Note
The papers document the publication of the following books: Welcome to the Monkey House (1968), Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), Happy Birthday, Wanda June (1971), Between Time and Timbuktu or Prometheus-5 (1972), Breakfast of Champions (1973), Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons (1975), Slapstick (1976), Jailbird (1979), Palm Sunday (1981), and Deadeye Dick (1982).
Because most of the materials in these files are arranged in chronological order, the list of titles and dates in the previous paragraph may serve as a guideline to finding information related to particular titles written by Vonnegut.
Series I is titled Professional Papers and consists of correspondence and business materials toward the publication of Vonnegut's books. Series II is titled Promotional Files and contains material toward the promotion of each of the books and of Vonnegut in general. Series III is titled Vonnegut Works and includes manuscripts of essays and speeches by Vonnegut, as well as material toward book jackets and preliminary matter for books by Vonnegut. Series IV is titled Promotional Events and consists of correspondence, itineraries, photographs, and other material related to special dinners and trips involving Kurt Vonnegut. Series V consists of photographs of Vonnegut. Series VI consists of Vonnegut's painted self-portrait. Some material is housed in the oversize section, including clippings, tear sheets, posters, and advertisements. The material in Series I, II, IV, and VII are arranged chronologically. The material in Series III is arranged alphabetically by title of the book.
I. Professional Papers, 1966-1983 II. Promotional Files, 1966-1982 III. Kurt Vonnegut Works, 1969-1981 IV. Material Related to Promotional Events, 1971-1979 V. Photographs of Kurt Vonnegut, [n.d.] VI. Kurt Vonnegut Self-Portrait, [n.d.]
1 Series I. Professional Papers, 1966-1983. Present are documents from Seymour Lawrence's files, including correspondence, memoranda, contract information sheets, sales figures, book order forms, editorial forms, printing orders, royalties information, and other papers relating to his work as Vonnegut's editor and publisher. Among the correspondence are approximately 65 of Vonnegut's letters to Lawrence, dating from 1966 to 1980. The presence of Vonnegut's letters is noted in the appropriate folders. The material is arranged in chronological order. F1 1966 Nov-1969 Apr Two Vonnegut letters present. F2 1967 May-Sep 18 Three Vonnegut letters present. F3 1967 Sep 19-Nov Seven Vonnegut letters present. F4 1967 Dec-1968 Mar Two Vonnegut letters present. F5 1968 Apr-May One Vonnegut letter present. F6 1968 Jun-Sep Two Vonnegut letters present. F7 1968 Oct-Nov One Vonnegut letter present and two photographs of Vonnegut. F8 1968 Dec-1969 Jan Three Vonnegut letters present. F9 1969 Feb One Vonnegut letter present. F10 1969 Mar 1-17 Two letters from Joseph Heller present. F11 1969 Mar 19-Apr F12 1969 May-Aug Two Vonnegut letters present. F13 1969 Sep-Dec Two Vonnegut letters present and two photographs of Vonnegut. F14 1970 Jan-Mar Two Vonnegut letters present. F15 1970 Apr-May One Vonnegut letter present. F16 1970 Jun-Oct Two Vonnegut letters present. F17 1970 Nov-Dec One Vonnegut letter present. F18 1971 Jan-Mar One Vonnegut letter present. F19 1971 Apr-May One Vonnegut photograph present. F20 1971 Jun-Sep One Vonnegut letter present. F21 1971 Oct-Dec One Vonnegut letter present. F22 1972 Jan-Feb F23 1972 Mar F24 1972 Apr F25 1972 May F26 1972 Jun F27 1972 Jul One Vonnegut letter present. F28 1972 Aug F29 1972 Sep 7-11 One Vonnegut letter present. F30 1972 Sep 13-29 F31 1972 Oct One Vonnegut postcard present F32 1972 Nov F33 1972 Dec 1-17 One Vonnegut letter present. F34 1972 Dec 20-27 F35 1973 Jan 1-15 F36 1973 Jan 18-30 1 Series I. Professional Papers (cont'd) F37 1973 Feb 1-22 Includes letters from Harry Levin and Derek Bok. F38 1973 Feb 23-28 F39 1973 Mar F40 1973 Apr F41 1973 May F42 1973 Jun One Vonnegut letter present. F43 1973 Jul F44 1973 Aug F45 1973 Sep One Vonnegut letter present. F46 1973 Oct F47 1973 Nov One Vonnegut letter and one postcard present. F48 1973 Dec F49 1974 Jan F50 1974 Feb One Vonnegut letter present. F51 1974 Mar One Vonnegut letter present. F52 1974 Apr 1-10 One Vonnegut letter present. F53 1974 Apr 12-28 F54 1974 May F55 1974 Jun F56 1974 Jul F57 1974 Aug-Sep One Vonnegut letter present. F58 1974 Oct F59 1974 Nov F60 1974 Dec F61 1975 Jan-Feb One Vonnegut letter present. F62 1975 Mar-Apr F63 1975 May-Jun One Vonnegut letter present. F64 1975 Jul-Sep F65 1975 Oct-Dec Three Vonnegut letters present. 2 F66 1976 Jan-Feb F67 1976 Mar One Vonnegut letter present. F68 1976 Apr F69 1976 May One Vonnegut letter present. F70 1976 Jun Two Vonnegut letters present F71 1976 Jul One Vonnegut letter present. F72 1976 Aug F73 1976 Sep F74 1976 Oct Includes a letter from John Irving. F75 1976 Nov One Vonnegut letter present. F76 1976 Dec F77 1977 Jan F78 1977 Feb F79 1977 Mar F80 1977 Apr One Vonnegut letter present. 2 Series I. Professional Papers (cont'd) F81 1977 May F82 1977 Jun F83 1977 Jul F84 1977 Aug F85 1977 Sep-Oct F86 1977 Nov-Dec F87 1978 Jan-Feb F88 1978 Mar-Apr F89 1978 May F90 1978 Jun Two Vonnegut letters present. F91 1978 Jul F92 1978 Aug-Sep Two Vonnegut letters present. F93 1978 Oct-Dec F94 1979 Jan One Vonnegut letter present. F95 1979 Feb Two Vonnegut letters present. F96 1979 Mar F97 1979 Apr F98 1979 May-Jun Three photographs of Vonnegut present. F99 1979 Jul-Sep One Vonnegut letter present. F100 1979 Oct-Dec Two Vonnegut letters present. F101 1980 Jan-Mar One Vonnegut letter present. F102 1980 Apr-Jul 2 Series I. Professional Papers (cont'd) F103 1980 Aug F104 1980 Sep-Dec F105 1981 Jan-Mar F106 1981 Apr-Jul F107 1981 Aug-Oct F108 1982 Feb-Apr F109 1982 May-Jul F110 1982 Oct F111 1983 Mar-Sep Series II. Promotional Files, 1966-1982. Includes advertisements, advertising schedules, articles, brochures, flyers, best-sellers lists, reviews, press releases, radio transcripts, and other materials relating to the promotion of Kurt Vonnegut's works. The materials are arranged chronologically. F112 1966 Oct-1968 Dec F113 1969 Jan-Mar 29 F114 1969 Mar 30-31 F115 1969 Apr 1-6 F116 1969 Apr 7-13 F117 1969 Apr 14-19 F118 1969 Apr 20-24 F119 1969 Apr 25-30 F120 1969 May 1-10 F121 1969 May 11-20 F122 1969 May 21-31 F123 1969 Jun 1-15 F124 1969 Jun 16-30 2 Series II. Promotional Files (cont'd) F125 1969 Jul F126 1969 Aug F127 1969 Sep-Dec F128  F129 1970 Feb-Jul F130 1970 Aug-Sep F131 1970 Oct-Dec 3 F132 1971 Jan F133 1971 Feb-Apr F134 1971 May F135 1971 Jun-Dec F136  F137 1972 Mar F138 1972 Apr-Jul F139 1972 Aug-Dec F140 1973 Jan F141 1973 Feb F142 1973 Mar F143 1973 Apr F144 1973 May 1-10 F145 1973 May 11-31 F146 1973 Jun F147 1973 Jul F148 1973 Aug F149 1973 Sep-Oct F150 1973 Nov-Dec F151  3 Series II. Promotional Files (cont'd) F152 1974 Jan-Apr F153 1974 May F154 1974 Jun F155 1974 Jul F156 1974 Aug-Sep F157 1974 Oct-Dec F158  F159 1975 F160 1976 Jan-Feb F161 1976 Mar-May F162 1976 Jun F163 1976 Jul-Sep F164 1976 Oct-Dec F165  F166 1977 Jan-Mar F167 1977 Apr-Nov F168 1978 F169 1979 Jan-Aug F170 1979 Sep 1-10 F171 1979 Sep 11-30 F172 1979 Oct 1-14 F173 1979 Oct 15-30 F174 1979 Nov F175 1979 Dec F176  F177 1980 3 Series II. Promotional Files (cont'd) F178 1981 Jan-Mar F179 1981 Apr-Oct F180 1982 F181 [n.d.] 4 Series III. Kurt Vonnegut Works, 1969-1981. Includes manuscripts of essays and speeches written by Kurt Vonnegut, some of which contain autograph notes and corrections. Also present is editorial material toward some of Vonnegut's published books. Series III.1. Speeches by Vonnegut, 1974-1980. Includes the manuscripts for various public presentations given by Vonnegut, including graduation addresses, a sermon, an award presentation, several speeches, and tributes. Topics range from anti-nuclear sentiments to a sermon based on the Sermon on the Mount. Most of these speeches were published in Palm Sunday. F182 Graduation Address at Hobart & William Smith Colleges, 1974 May 26. Photocopy of typescript. 15 pp. F183 "Lavina - A Tribute," 1976 Mar 25 Printed copy of eulogy for Lavina Lyon. 2 pp. F184 Speech at Dedication of the New Library at Connecticut College in New London, 1976 Oct 1 Photocopy of typescript of speech which Vonnegut calls "The Noodle Factory." 9 pp. F185 Tribute to Erica Anderson, 1976 Nov 28 Photocopy of typescript of a speech delivered at the dedication of the Albert Schweitzer Friendship House, Great Barrington, Massachusetts. 2 pp. F186 Graduation Address at Fredonia College, Fredonia, New York, 1978 May 20 Photocopy of typescript. 9 pp. F187 Citation for Jugoslavian Writer, Mihajlo Mihajlov, 1978 Jun 12 Photocopy of typescript of speech presenting Mihajlov with an award from The International League for Human Rights. 3 pp. F188 Speech at the Anti-Nuclear Rally, Washington, D.C., 1979 May 6 Typescript. 2 pp. F189 "The Necessary Miracle," 1979 Jul 7 Tear sheet from The Nation of this speech delivered in the Spring of 1979 at the Mark Twain House in Hartford. 1 p. F190 Address at an American Civil Liberties Fund-raiser at Sands Point, New York, 1979 Sep 16 Photocopy of typescript. 3 pp. F191 Speech at Irwin Shaw "Pipe Night" at Player's Club, New York, 1979 Oct 7 Typescript. 3 pp. F192 Speech at The First Parish Church (Unitarian), Harvard Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1980 Jan 27 Photocopy of typescript of speech delivered on two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of William Ellery Channing. 10 pp. F193 Sermon, St. Clement's Episcopal Church, New York, 1980 Mar 30 Typescript and photocopy pages of this Palm Sunday sermon. 7 pp. Series III.2. Reviews, Essays, and Other Short Pieces Written by Vonnegut, 1969-1980 Consists of tear sheets, typescripts, and photocopies of reviews, introductions, forwards, essays, and letters to the editor written by Vonnegut. Also includes the story-line for a musical. Some of these pieces were published in Palm Sunday. Arranged in chronological order. F194 "Excelsior! We're Going to the Moon! Excelsior." 1969 Feb 13 Photocopy of an essay published in the New York Times Magazine. 3 pp. F195 "A New Scheme for Real Writers," 1974 Jul 14 Photocopy of an essay published in the New York Times and a second photocopy of the same essay as published in the Minneapolis Tribune as "Creative Writing Course for Gifted Wanderers and Articulate Hoboes." 2 items 2 pp. F196 Review of Joseph Heller's Something Happened, 1974 Oct 6 Photocopy of printed review. 2 pp. F197 [Untitled] Essay, 1976 Mar 24 Photocopy of a typescript of an essay for the editorial page of the Long Island edition of the New York Times, with a TNS from Vonnegut to Lawrence. 2 items 3 pp. F198 Movie Review for "All the President's Men," 1976 Apr Photocopy of a typescript for More. 2 pp. F199 Introduction to The Incomplete Mark Twain, 1976 Apr 24 Photocopy of the typescript introduction to this Running Press edition. 7 pp. F200 Forward to the Franklin Library Edition of Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five, 1976 Oct Photocopy of typescript. 2 pp. F201 Citation for Parthian Shot, 1976 Photocopy of typescript for a citation for Loyd Little's Parthian Shot, as winner of The Ernest Hemingway Prize for Fiction in 1976. F202 Message to Members of The First Edition Society of Slapstick, 1976 Photocopy of letter to the membership by Vonnegut. 3 pp. F203 "Your State of Mind," 1977 Mar Tear sheet of Vonnegut's response to the question, "What keeps you up?" for Vogue. 1 p. F204 Introduction for the Book of the Month Club Edition of Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, 1977 Photocopy of typescript for this introduction. 5 pp. F205 "Only Kidding, Folks?" 1978 May 13 Photocopy of essay for The Nation on Stanislaw Lem. 1 p. F206 "Shilling Shocker," 1978 Jun 15 Photocopy of typescript of a story line for a seven scene musical titled "Shilling Shocker." The musical is based on the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Includes a photocopy of letter from Vonnegut to Lee Guber describing the material. 2 items 4 pp. F207 [Untitled] Essay, 1978 Jul 30 Typescript of an essay concerning Vonnegut's daughter, Nanette. The essay was rejected by the New York Times opinion editor. 4 Series III. Kurt Vonnegut Works (cont'd) Series III.2. Reviews, Essays (cont'd) F208 Comment on Leaked Cabinet Minutes, 1978 Aug 18 Photocopy of typescript of an untitled essay which comments on leaked cabinet minutes. The essay was written for The Nation. A photocopy of the proof for the printed essay is also present. 2 items 3 pp. F209 "The Happy Conservative," 1979 Jan-Feb Tear sheet of Vonnegut's review of William F. Buckley, Jr.'s A Hymnal, the Controversial Arts, published in Politics Today. 1 p. F210 Essay on Literary Style for an International Paper Company Literacy Campaign, 1980 Apr Photocopy of typescript with autograph note. 9 pp. F211 Forward to the Franklin Library Edition of Jailbird, [n.d.] Photocopy of typescript with autograph corrections. 2 pp. F212 Introduction to Celine's Rigadoon, [n.d.] Tear sheets of Vonnegut's introduction to the Penguin paperback edition of Louis-Ferdinand Celine's Rigadoon. 9 pp. Series III.3. Material Toward Books Written by Vonnegut, 1967-1981 Includes magazine excerpts, jacket copy, flap copy, page proofs, cover designs, typescripts of introductions, revised ending, and other material related to the publication of some of Vonnegut's books. Arranged alphabetically by book titles and then chronologically within each folder. F213 Between Time and Timbuktu, 1972 Includes typescript of Vonnegut's introduction, as well as material for the copyright page, jacket copy, title page, and other preliminary matter for the published playscript. F214 Breakfast of Champions, 1972 Sep Typescript and typescript carbons of preliminary matter, jacket copy, as well as proofs for two different jackets. Also includes jacket for the Editorial Extemporaneos, Mexico edition. See also F236. F215 Happy Birthday, Wanda June, 1971-1977 Includes a Playbill for the Edison Theatre production of this play. Also includes preliminary matter, jacket copy, and a photocopy of a revised ending (1977). F216 Mother Night, [n.d.] Jacket proof for the Dell paperback edition. F217 Palm Sunday, 1980-1981 Tear sheets of excerpts of Palm Sunday as published in Book Digest Magazine, promotional ads, and a typescript of the table of contents. F218 Player Piano, [n.d.] Jacket proof for the Dell paperback edition. F219 The Sirens of Titan,  Proof of cover design. F220 Slapstick, 1976 Includes tear sheets of excerpts as published in Playboy, typescript and carbon copies of the flap copy and copyright page. See also F236. F221 Slaughterhouse-Five, 1968 Typescript of flap copy written by Vonnegut, typescript and carbon copies of preliminary matter, proofs of title and sample pages, tear sheets of excerpts published in Ramparts, and two different cover designs for the Dell paperback edition. See also F236. F222 Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons, 1973-1974 Tear sheets of excerpts as published in Book Digest Magazine, proof of cover design, photocopies of preliminary matter and jacket copy. F223 Welcome to the Monkey House, 1967-1968 Carbon copy of typescript of copyright page and jacket copy, as well as proofs of cover design, title page and preface. 4 Series IV. Material Related to Promotional Events, 1971-1979 Includes material documenting dinners honoring the publications of several of Vonnegut's books, as well as items related to tours promoting his publications in Europe and the Soviet Union. Material is arranged chronologically. Series IV.1. Dinners, 1971-1979 Includes guest lists, invitations, menus, seating charts, correspondence, photographs, and other material relating to five dinners planned by Seymour Lawrence. Three of the dinners were held in honor of the publication of new Vonnegut books; the other two dinners were held in Germany in honor of Vonnegut's foreign publishers. F224 Dinner in Germany for Vonnegut's Foreign Publishers, -225 1971 Aug-Nov Held at the Schlosshotel Kronberg in Taunus on October 15, 1971. Includes photographs of Vonnegut. F226 Dinner Marking the Publication of Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons,  Held May 20,  in New York. F227 Dinner Marking the Publication of Slapstick, 1976 Held October 6, 1976 in New York. Includes a note from Vonnegut. F228 Dinner in Germany for Vonnegut's Foreign Publishers, 1976-1977 Held October 14, 1977 at the Schlosshotel Kronberg. Includes note from Vonnegut. F229 Dinner Marking the Publication of Jailbird, 1979 Held September 18, 1979 in New York. Includes a letter from Vonnegut. Series IV.2. Promotional Tours of Europe and the Soviet Union by Vonnegut, 1974-1977 Includes material related to trips taken by Vonnegut to promote his books. Includes correspondence, itineraries, photographs, etc. F230 Trips to the Soviet Union, 1974-1977 Includes pamphlets related to the Soviet Union, a copy of the 1977 USSR Travel Agents' Manual, and a portion of an essay about Vonnegut and Russia. F231 European Tour, 1976-1977 -233 Includes itineraries, correspondence, photographs, clippings, and other material related to the September 25-October 15, 1977 promotional trip to Europe. Includes a letter from Vonnegut. 4 Series V. Photographs of Kurt Vonnegut, [n.d.] Consists of twelve photographs of Vonnegut taken by Jill Krementz and Bossi. Photographs are also found throughout this collection. F234 Photographs, [n.d.] Series VI. Kurt Vonnegut Self-Portrait, [n.d.] Consists of one painting done by Vonnegut of himself. The image was used for one cover design of Breakfast of Champions (Delacorte Press). Stored in the safe. F235 Vonnegut Self-Portrait, [n.d.] Oil on board painting (14 inches x 17.5 inches) by Kurt Vonnegut of himself. Oversize F236 Oversize Material, 1966-1982 -239 Consists of posters, brochures, booklists, clippings, tear sheets, and design copy for advertisements. The material relates promotions for various books by Vonnegut, articles about Vonnegut, information on the 1977 European trip, and other material. Preservation copies are available in the appropriate folders in Series II-IV.
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