University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Gene Phillips
Collection of James T. Farrell Papers

1932 - 1954
(bulk dates 1949 - 1952)

Manuscript Collection Number: 368
Accessioned: Gift of Nick MacDonnald, March 1998
Extent: .6 linear feet (116 items)
Content: Letters, diary entries, photographs, manuscripts, typescripts, off-prints, newspaper
clippings, reviews, and essays
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: June 1998, by Meghan J. Fuller.

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Table of Contents

Biographical Notes

James T. Farrell

American author and political activist James T. Farrell (1904-1979) published more than 65 volumes in his lifetime, including 26 novels and novellas, 15 collections of short stories, and more than ten books of criticism and collected essays. He achieved critical success and international recognition by the age of thirty-one with the completion of the Studs Lonigan trilogy, which includes Young Lonigan: A Boyhood in Chicago Streets (1932), The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan (1934), and Judgement Day (1935). Known for his realistic, often gritty, portrayal of life in Chicago's South side (his hometown and the setting for many of his major novels), Farrell has long been considered one of the most influential American writers and thinkers of his time.

Success as a writer did not come easily. In 1931, Farrell relocated to Paris, hoping the change of scenery would prove inspirational. Financial difficulties forced him to return to the United States in 1933, and he took up residence at Yaddo, the rent-free writers' colony in Saratoga Springs that would become his home for the next three years. His productivity increased dramatically. In 1936, he won the Guggenheim Fellowship, followed by a Book of the Month Club Award for the Studs Lonigan trilogy. Despite critical success, his novels were not overnight best sellers, and money was frequently scarce. During one such period of hardship, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer offered Farrell $250 a week to write Hollywood screenplays, an offer which, in the interest of artistic freedom, he promptly refused.

Farrell was also very active politically, attending and lecturing at several international conferences, including the Berlin Conference for Cultural Freedom (1950) and the Paris Conference for the Mobilization of Peace (1949). At the latter, he delivered a speech entitled, "Truth and Myth about America," an experience he describes in detail in a May 17, 1949 letter to Phillips (see F1). In 1933, Farrell invented a satiric alter-ego, Jonathan Titulescu Fogarty, Esq., through whom he delivered many of his biting social and political commentaries.

Farrell died of a heart attack at his home in New York City in 1979.

Gene Phillips

Biographical details about Gene Phillips are not available; however, the collection indicates that Miss Gene Phillips and James T. Farrell were longtime friends and business associates. Based in New York City, Phillips worked for Farrell, transcribing handwritten texts he sent her during his trips across the country and abroad. In October 1951, Farrell sent a letter of introduction on behalf of Phillips to Alfred Frankenstein of the San Fransisco Chronicle:

Farrell and Phillips seemed to have many friends in common, including Phillips' friends Alice and Lionel of Urbana, Illinois, with whom Farrell stayed while on one of his lecture tours. They also had mutual friends in Dwight and Nancy Macdonald, both of whom played an integral role in the founding of the Partisan Review. Upon her death, Phillips bequeathed these papers to the latter, whose son donated the papers to the University of Delaware Library.


Branch, Edward M. A Bibliography of James T. Farrell Writings, 1921-1957. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1959.

Metzger, Linda, Ed. Contemporary Authors. New Revision Series, volume 9. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1984. pp. 158-161.

Note: Biographical information for Gene Phillips is derived from the collection.

Scope and Content Note

The Gene Phillips Collection of James T. Farrell Papers documents a friendship based on shared professional interest in Farrell's writing career. Most of the collection is material which Farrell sent to Phillips, though it also includes other items kept by Phillips relating to Farrell's writing or political interests. Spanning the years 1932-1954 (bulk 1949-1952), the collection consists of .6 linear feet of letters, diary entries, photographs, manuscripts, typescripts, off-prints, essays, newspaper clippings, and miscellaneous material reflecting Farrell's political interests.

The bulk of the material in this collection was written at a pivotal point in Farrell's life -- during the five years preceding his fiftieth birthday. During this period, he travelled and lectured extensively both in the United States and abroad, and the letters and diary entries in the first series indicate that this lifestyle began to take its toll on Farrell. In 1951, he suffered a lengthy illness which eventually necessitated abdominal surgery in 1952.

Perhaps most interesting in this collection are Farrell's diary entries. Written during the span of less than a month (April 1951), these entries explore everything from the political climate in France to the weather in London. Farrell wrote about his travels, the people he encountered on the streets, the lectures he gave, and his difficulty balancing his public life of travelling and lecturing with his private life as a writer. As he confessed in an entry dated April 15, 1951, "It is difficult writing under the conditions of my present life. It is so easy to make appointments to see people -- to talk -- to crowd in other things besides work. Life is like a constant vacation, because I am so constantly in a place that isn't home and am there temporarily" (see F5).

The diary entries also provide a unique look into the life of a writer and the joys and frustrations of the writing process itself. As Farrell began one entry, "I am writing this diary entry as much with the aim of getting into work as for any reason. As a kind of warm-up." He often expressed the frustration of "being blocked," particularly in reference to Bill Lenihan, a novel that may have been published under a different name, if it was published at all.

Many of the diary entries are nostalgic; Farrell himself admits in one entry to being in a "slight Proustian mood," and he frequently describes cherished moments from his past. These entries were written nineteen years to the month after the publication of his first novel, Young Lonigan: A Boyhood in Chicago Streets.

Related collections:

MS 214 James T. Farrell Papers

David T. Bazelon Papers

Arrangement Note

The Gene Phillips Collection of James T. Farrell Papers is organized into five small series of material: letters; diary entries and photographs; writings by James T. Farrell; writings by others; and miscellaneous items.

Series I. Letters, 1932-1952 comprises letters written either to or from Farrell and Phillips during the years 1932 to 1951. Within each folder, the letters are arranged chronologically.

Series II. Diaries and Photographs includes those diary entries written by Farrell between April 9 and May 1, 1951, and two unidentified photographs, though Farrell and (presumably) Phillips are in both.

Series III. Writings by James T. Farrell includes typescripts, manuscripts, notes, and off-prints, only some of which are dated. They are arranged chronologically, with all undated material arranged alphabetically by title at the end.

Series IV. Other Writings contains writings about or in some way related to Farrell, including newspaper clippings, a critical essay, a review of Farrell's 1953 novel, The Face of Time, and a typescript of a one-act play written by Farrell's second wife, Hortense Alden Farrell, in collaboration with Randolph Carter. This material is arranged chronologically, with all undated material listed alphabetically by title at the end.

Series V. Miscellaneous Material includes three items which reflect Farrell's political interests, including a copy of "The Geneticists Manifesto" signed by the author, H.J. Muller; and a transcript of the Plaintiffs' statement in the case of William Fortunato, Leroy Galperin, Robert Oppenheimer, and Albert Ettinger versus William E. Knickerbocker, William C. Davis, and the New York Times, Co.

Series Outline

I.   Letters, 1932-1952
II.  Diary Entries and Photographs
III. Writings by James T. Farrell
IV.  Other Writings
V.   Miscellaneous Material 

Contents List

Box -- Folder -- Contents

1         Series I.  Letters, 1932 - 1952
          Primarily written by Farrell to his friend, Gene Phillips, while he was lecturing in 
          the United States and abroad.  His letters (both typed and handwritten) include
          thoughts on writers and the writing process, politics both at home and 
          internationally, his difficulty writing under the stress of traveling and lecturing,
          and his bout with an illness that would require abdominal surgery in 1952.  

     F1   Letters from James T. Farrell to Gene Phillips, 1948-1949
          12 items  (12 leaves)  14pp.

     F2   Letters from James T. Farrell to Gene Phillips, 1950
          8 items  (8 leaves)  9pp.

     F3   Letters from James T. Farrell to Gene Phillips, 1951
          8 items  (8 leaves)  11 pp.

     F4   Letters from James T. Farrell to Gene Phillips, 1952
          12 items  (13 leaves)  18 pp.

     F5   Other Correspondence, 1932-1952, n.d
          10 items  (23 leaves)  27 pp.
          Includes letters either to or from James T. Farrell or Gene Phillips, several
          letters from mutual friends in which either one or both are mentioned, as well
          as Farrell's undated letter of recommendation for Calder Willingham, Jr. to the
          Geuggenheim Foundation.

1         Series II.  Diary Entries and Photographs

     F6   Diary Entries, April 9 - May 1, 1951
          35 items  (51 leaves)  88 pp.
          Written by Farrell, these entries reflect his struggle to overcome writer's block 
          while lecturing and traveling throughout the United States and Europe. 

     F7   Photographs, n.d
          2 items

2         Series III.  Writings by James T. Farrell
          Written between 1949 and 1954, some of these pieces appeared in such places as
          The Humanist, The Kansas City Review, and The General Magazine and
          Historical Chronicle (of the University of Pennsylvania); others may be first
          drafts of pieces that would be retitled later, while others may not have been 
          published at all. Two pieces were written under the pseudonym Jonathan
          Titulescu Fogarty, Esq.
     F8   Partial Bibliography of Published Articles, 1947-1950
          1 item  (5 leaves)  5 pp.

     F9   Book Reviewing in the Early 1930s, 1949  (2 items)
          AMS  January 12, 1949  57 pp.
          TMs  [n.d]  8 pp.  (3 copies)

     F10  The Best Runner on Fifty-First Street, 1949  (1 item)
          AMsS  August 14, 1949  34pp.
          Inscribed "To Gene Phillips, Affectionately, Jim Farrell, September 1, 1949"
          Possibly a draft of what would become "The Fastest Runner on Sixty-first Street,"         
          first published in Commentary, 1950.
     F11  Arrival in America, 1949  (1 item)
          AMsS  December 1, 1949  19 pp.

     F12  The American Communists, n.d.  (1 item)
          AMsS "John Titulescu Fogarty"  2pp. 
          inscribed "For Gene Phillips, Affectionately, Jim Farrell" and "To [illegible]
          Mrs. Phillips, from John Titulescu Fogarty" 

     F13  Orbis Family, n.d.  (3 items)
          TMs  28 pp.  (2 copies)
          TMs  16 pp.
          Possibly an early draft of "The Mowbray Family: A Comedy in Three Acts,"
          written by Farrell and Hortense Alden Farrell and published in When Boyhood
          Dreams Come True, 1946.

     F14  Some Observations on Trade Union Education, n.d.  (1 item)
          TMs  with holograph notations  34 pp.
          Possibly an early draft of "A Note on Trade Union Education," published in the 
          New Leader, 1948.

2    Series III.  Writings by Farrell (cont'd)

     F15  Notes on Summer Tryout, n.d.  (1 item)
          TMs  with holograph notations  4 pp.
     F16  Summer Tryout, n.d.  (1 item)
          TMs  with holograph notations  53 pp.

     F17  Off-Prints of Writings by Farrell, 1947-1951  (5 items)

          Fogarty, Jonathan Titulescu (James T. Farrell).  "Texas by the Potomac."  Dallas:
              The Times Herald, 1950. 

          ___.  "An American Dream Girl."  The General Magazine and
                 Historical Chronicle. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania General
                 Alumni Society  52:3  (1950): 143-148.

          ____.  "Some Correspondence with Theodore Dreiser."  The General Magazine
                 and Historical Chronicle Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania               
                 General Alumni Society   53:4  (1951): 237-251.

          ___.  "The Social Obligations of the Novelist: I.  Is the Obligation to the  State' or
                 Society'?"  The Humanist, n.d.  [1947]
          ___.  "Tolstoy's War and Peace as a Moral Panorama of the Tsarist Feudal  
                Nobility."  The University of Kansas City Review, n.d.

2         Series IV.  Other Writings
          Writings about Farrell, including newspaper clippings, 
          reviews, a critical essay, and a play written by Farrell's first wife, Hortense 
          Alden, in collaboration with Randolph Carter.

     F18  Newspaper Clippings, 1952-1954  (5 items)    

          Kemton, Murray.  "Spit."  New York Post,  13 April 1954.   p.34
          (2 copies)

          Bookman.  "To amerikanere, [illegible] italiener og en jyde." Radio, 16                   
                    March 1952.

2    Series IV.  Other Writings (cont'd)

          Poore, Charles.  "Books of the Times."  The New York Times,  7
                     November 1953.

          Shannon, William V.  "Farrell Writes on, Unscarred."  New York Post,  7 
                     March 1954.  p.2M

     F19  Review, The Face of Time, 1953  (1 item)
          "Back to Chicago."  Review of The Face of Time, by James T. Farrell.  Time,           
                     23 November 1953.  p.128-129

     F20  Irvin Stock, "The Critics of James T. Farrell: An Examination,"  n.d.  (1 item)
          TMs with holograph notations  14 pp.

     F21  Hortense Alden and Randolph Carter, "Manhattan at Midnight,  n.d.
          TMs with holograph notations  18 pp.  (2 copies)
          Hortense Alden was Farrell's second wife; they were married from 1941 to 1955.

2         Series V.  Miscellaneous Items Reflecting Farrell's Political Interests
     F22  Miscellaneous Material (3 items)
          Peck, Jim.  Underdogs Versus Upperdogs: A Picture-Story of the Struggle 
               Against Social Injustice.  New York: Mat Kauten, 1951.
               15 pp.  includes a holograph note inscribed "Thought you would like to see
               one, Jim" 

          "The Geneticists Manifesto"
          1 pp.  (2 leaves)  
          signed by one of the authors, H.J. Muller

           Typescript of the Plaintiffs' Statement in the case of William Fortunato,
           individually and as President of the Student Council of the City College of the
           City of New York, Leroy Galperin, Robert Oppenheimer and Albert Ettinger
           Against William E. Knickerbocker, William C. Davis, and the New York Times, Co.
           7 pp.  (7 leaves)

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