University of Delaware Library

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The Ishmael Reed Papers

See below for collection citation and reference information.

IX. Legal and Publishing Correspondence, 1966 - 1993

Extent: 1 linear ft.

Contents: Letters, greeting cards, brochures, flyers, circulars. contracts, announcements, clippings, financial statements, legal documents, telegrams, book jackets, photographs.

Arrangement: Series IX is divided into three subseries: Agents, Legal Representatives, and Publishers. All three are arranged alphabetically by names of individuals or businesses. In Series IX.1. the arrangement is by the name of the agent or agency if no specific agent appears to be working directly as Reed's representative. The files for individual agents are in chronological order, with separate folders representing changes in agency names. A single folder at the end of the subseries contains information and solicitations from various agencies which Reed did not use to represent him. A similar arrangement is used for Series IX.2., which is alphabetical by the name of the individual attorney, with files for each attorney in chronological order and with separate folders representing changes in the names of the law firms. Series IX.3. is in alphabetical order by the name of the publishing company. Each company's files are arranged in chronological order, with some overlap in the chronology due to the use of separate folders for different editors and different types of materials (i.e. royalty statements, promotional materials). The last two folders contain publishing information with no publisher identified.


The Legal and Publishing Correspondence files consist primarily of business correspondence sent to Reed by the literary agencies, law firms, and publishers who represented his literary interests. Materials other than correspondence include advertising flyers and brochures, catalogs, royalty statements, and a few contracts. Some letters from Reed are also included. Significant correspondence is included from literary agents James F. Seligman (1966-1974) and Barbara Lowenstein (1978-1989); from attorney Ellis J. Freedman (1976-1989); and from editors Lynn Deming (1966-1970), Anne Freedgood (1973-1984), and Ken McCormick (1971-1976).

Literary agent James F. Seligman was retained in 1966 to market the publication rights to Reed's first novel, The Free Lance Pallbearers. Seligman negotiated an agreement with Doubleday for the book and a contract with an English publisher, McGibbon & Kee. Seligman entered into partnership with Oscar Collier in October, 1968, and continued to represent Reed until March 31, 1969. After that time, he continued to play a limited role in foreign marketing of The Free Lance Pallbearers and Yellow Back Radio Broke Down, Reed's second novel, and correspondence relating to these endeavors continued through 1973.

Correspondence files for agent Barbara Lowenstein begin in 1978. The first and second folders relate predominantly to securing a contract with Richard Marek Publishers for Reed's novel The Terrible Twos and marketing the novel to overseas publishers. The remaining two folders of correspondence relate to publication of Reckless Eyeballing and New and Collected Poems, and to re-publication of his earlier novels.

Program Corporation of America represented Reed as a speaker between 1974 and 1978. The correspondence in this folder supplements other files related to Reed's speaking engagements in section VI., Appearances.

Abraham Friedman was the attorney retained by Reed to represent his literary interests from 1966 until Friedman's death in March, 1972. Friedman handled financial matters relating to Reed's contract with Doubleday and other contracts negotiated by Seligman as well as the process of terminating Seligman's contract.

Ellis Freedman, who was involved in Reed's legal affairs along with his partner Abe Friedman, became Reed's representative after Friedman's death. Their association continued through at least 1989. Correspondence relates to contracts with publishers, including University of Massachusetts Press (Conjure), Doubleday (Mumbo Jumbo and This One's On Me), Bantam (Mumbo Jumbo paperback), Random House (Chattanooga, Last Days of Louisiana Red, Flight to Canada), NOK (A Secretary to the Spirits), Garland (God Made Alaska for the Indians), and St. Martin's Press (The Terrible Twos), as well as contracts for motion picture rights to Yellow Back Radio Brokedown and Freelance Pallbearers. Other correspondence relates to permission and copyright for reprinted poems (see also Series VIII.3) and reports on advances and royalties. There is a small amount of scattered correspondence relating to Reed, Cannon, and Johnson and Before Columbus Foundation. There are also some letters relating to Reed's divorce from his first wife and custody and child support arrangements. A few letters from Reed to Freedman, generally carbon copies, are also found in this series.

Howard Moore, Jr., was Reed's representative in the case of Yardbird vs. Reed (1978-1980), in which Reed and co-defendant Al Young were accused of improperly using the name, assets, and records of Yardbird Publishing Company. Copies of court documents related to the judgement and correspondence related to the case are contained in this file.

Stephen C. Skinner represented Ishmael and Carla Reed in McKinney vs. Reed. This case involved a financial award to the Reeds, but the exact nature of the case is not apparent from the contents of the four letters in the file.

Doubleday was the first major publisher to handle Reed's books, and his interests there were handled by four different editors: Lynn Deming (Free Lance Pallbearers, Yellow Back Radio Broke Down), Anne Freedgood (19 Necromancers From Now, Mumbo Jumbo, Chattanooga) Ken McCormick (Mumbo Jumbo, This One's On Me), and Betty Prasher (Shrovetide in Old New Orleans). Folders in the Doubleday subseries include correspondence about the publication of these works, some typed letters, generally unsigned copies, from Reed. The correspondents are primarily the editors named, but letters from other members of the editorial staff, fans, and other interested parties are included in the files. Book covers for Shrovetide in New Orleans are included in the Betty Prasher file, and photostatic copies of a longhand letter to be reproduced in Mumbo Jumbo are included in the Ken McCormick files. Correspondence also relates to permission and copyright matters for works previously published, for articles and poems by Reed published or reprinted elsewhere. Scattered throughout the files are responses to Reed's requests for the publishers to obtain copies of books for him, which could be useful for documenting the author's reading during this time. There is also a folder of royalty statements for the years 1979-1987.

In 1971, editor Anne Freedgood left Doubleday for Random House. Ken McCormick continued work on Reed's projects at Doubleday, but after some negotiation, Reed signed a contract with Random House. Anne Freedgood became his editor for Chattanooga and also worked with him on The Last Days of Louisiana Red and Flight to Canada. The Random House files include correspondence relating to these works and related promotional appearances, publicity, and a few reviews. Three 1973 draft letters from Reed to Freedgood with extensive notes and corrections are foldered separately (F48). These include two drafts of a proposal for his novel The Last Days of Louisiana Red (then called "Bloom Dido"), the second dated March 12, 1973, and a nine-page draft letter dated June 9, 1973 with detailed responses to Freedgood's criticisms of a draft of the same novel. An undated draft letter to Freedgood which explains his decision to submit a novel to a different publisher also bears extensive notes and corrections and is also foldered separately (F50). Random House files also include newsletters, royalty statements, and letters from Charles Harris, Random House editor for Books for Young Readers and co-editor of Amistad magazine.

University of Massachusetts Press published Conjure, Reed's 1972 volume of poetry. A contract for the publication is included in the files with correspondence, receipts, and publicity relating to the publication process. Editor Malcolm L. Call also read Reed's autobiographical manuscript This One's On Me and the files contain two letters with his comments. Royalty statements are also included.

Margaret Talcott was Reed's editor at Atheneum, which published Writin' is Fightin', The Terrible Threes, and New and Collected Poems, as well as paperback editions of his previous books. The Atheneum file contains correspondence related to the editing and publication process, cover design, rights and permissions, and publicity; an amendment to his contract; and photocopied reviews.

The original contract for The Terrible Twos was with Richard Marek Publishers, Inc. Reed's editor, Joyce Engelson, moved to St. Martin's Press, and Reed signed a contract reassigning rights to St. Martin's (see F18). One letter from Engelson at Richard Marek is included in the St. Martin's Press files. St. Martin's also published Reckless Eyeballing, and most St. Martin's Press materials concern that novel. Press releases, invoices, editorial comments, copies of letters to advance readers requesting comments, and royalty statements are included.

Other publishers with files in this series include Addison Wesley (Airing Dirty Laundry), Allison & Busby (British publishers of Reckless Eyeballing, Mumbo Jumbo, and The Terrible Threes), Avon (paperback editions of the first five novels), Bamberger (Cab Calloway Stands In For the Moon), Bantam (paperback edition Yellow Back Radio Broke Down), Garland (God Made Alaska for the Indians), NOK (A Secretary To The Spirits), and International (relating to permission to publish "I Am A Cowboy in the Boat of Ra" in the Norton Anthology of Poetry). The Avon files include black and white photographs of cover art sketches for Yellow Back Radio Broke Down, Freelance Pallbearers, and Flight to Canada; and a photo/collage/sketch treatment for the Mumbo Jumbo cover. A file for E.P. Dutton contains contract drafts for the transfer of rights to publish William Demby's Love Story Black from Reed, Cannon, & Johnson Co. to E. P. Dutton.

Contents List

Box -- Folder -- Contents

53        Series IX.  Legal and publishing correspondence, 1966-1993

          Series IX.1.  Literary agents, 1966-1995

     F1   Lordly and Dame, Inc., 1969

          Lowenstein, Barbara, 1978-1995
     F2   Barbara Lowenstein, 1978-1981

          Barbara Lowenstein Associates, Inc., 1981-1988
     F3   1981-1982
     F4   1983-1988

          Lowenstein Associates, Inc., 1988-1995
     F5   1988-1989
     F6   Reviews, 1994-1995

     F7   Program Corporation of America

          Seligmann, James F., 1966-1974
     F8   James F. Seligmann, Inc., 1966-1968
     F9   Seligmann & Collier, 1968-1974
     F10  James Seligmann Agency, [n.d.]

     F11  Wright, Ellen, 1969-1971

     F12  Information, various agencies, 1973-1976 and [n.d.]

53        Series IX.  Legal and publishing correspondence (cont'd)

          Series IX.2.  Legal representatives, 1972-1983

          Freedman, Ellis J., 1972-1989
     F13  Friedman & Freedman, 1972-1973
               Includes a number of letters from Ishmael Reed to Freedman

          Lowenthal, Freedman, Landau, Fischer & Todres
     F14  1973-1974
     F15  1975

     F16  Lowenthal, Freedman, Landau, Fischer & Singer, 1976

     F17  Freedman & Kolins, 1976-1982

     F18  Ellis J. Freedman, 1981-1989

          Friedman, Abraham, 1966-1972
     F19  Bernays & Eisner, 1966-1971
     F20  Friedman & Freedman, 1971-1972

     F21  Moore, Howard, Jr.  Moore and Bell, 1978-1980

     F22  Skinner, Stephen C.  Munck, Benson, Skinner & Wagner, 1983

          Series IX.3.  Publishers, 1966-1993

     F23  Addison-Wesley, 1993
     F24  Allison & Busby, 1989, 1993

     F25  Atheneum, 1987-1992; n.d.

     F26  Correspondence, 1976-1981
     F27  College catalog, 1979-1980
     F28  20th-century literature catalogs, n.d.

53        Series IX.  Legal and publishing correspondence (cont'd)
          Series IX.3.  Publishers (cont'd)

     F29  Bamberger, 1986

     F30  Bantam Books, 1972-1975


          Deming, Lynn
     F31  1966-1968
     F32  1969-1970
     F33  Books in Print catalog, 1969

          Freedgood, Anne
     F34  1970-1973
     F35  From Ishmael Reed, 1971
          Drafts of letters to Anne Freedgood and her secretary, Mary Dick regarding
          changes and corrections in the manuscript of Mumbo Jumbo.  All have author's
          notes and corrections.

          McCormick, Ken
     F36  1971-1972
          Includes several TL(c) and one letter from Ishmael Reed.  Also includes 3 pages of
          a letter from McCormick to Reed detailing questions and objections to parts of
          This One's on Me. 
     F37  From Ishmael Reed, 1971
          Three letters to McCormick and one letter to Joan Ward, McCormick's assistant. 
          Also includes autograph original and photostatic copy of fictional letter which
          appears in Mumbo Jumbo.
     F38  1973-1976 and [n.d.]
          Includes TL from Reed to Loretta Barrett, Editorial Director

     F39  Prasher, Betty, 1976-1979

     F40  Royalty statements, 1979-1987

     F41  E. P. Dutton, 1986

53        Series IX.  Legal and publishing correspondence (cont'd)
          Series IX.3.  Publishers (cont'd)

     F42  Correspondence, 1980-1989
     F43  Royalty statements, 1982, 1989

     F44  International Publishers, 1969-1970

     F45  Nok, 1978

          Random House

     F46  Harris, Charles F., 1969-1970

          Freedgood, Anne
     F47  1971-1973
          Includes three letters from Reed to Freedgood and a five-page letter from
          Freedgood to Reed with Reed's holograph notes and responses to her suggestions
          for The Last Days of Louisiana Red.
     F48  From Ishmael Reed, 1973
          Two drafts of a letter to "Anne" with a proposal for a new novel.  Both drafts have
          corrections and comments; those on the first draft appear to be in Reed's hand. 
          The second draft, dated March 12, 1973, has corrections in two different,
          unidentified hands.  Final draft in F47.
          Draft letter to "Anne" dated June 9, 1973 with detailed responses to criticisms of
          The Last Days of Louisiana Red.  Five pages typescript with corrections and
          comments in at least two different hands.  Four pages holograph in Reed's hand. 
          Four pages of final draft sent to Freedgood are in F47.
     F49  1974-1984
     F50  From Ishmael Reed, Aug 28, 1979
          Draft and carbon copy of typed letter to "Anne" regarding dispute over Random
          House contract.  Extensive holograph corrections on draft.  
     F51  At Random newsletter, 1970-1976
     F52  Random Publicity News newsletter, 1974-1975
     F53  Royalty statements, 1979-1982

53        Series IX.  Legal and publishing correspondence (cont'd)
          Series IX.3.  Publishers (cont'd)

          St. Martin's Press
     F54  Correspondence, 1981-1987
     F55  Royalty statements, 1983-1985

          University of Massachusetts Press
     F56  Correspondence, 1971-1976
     F57  Royalty statements, 1980, 1984

     F58  W. H. Allen & Co., 1990

     F59  Unidentified publisher, n.d.

     F60  Unidentified publisher, royalty statement, 1989

+ Return to Ishmael Reed Papers Index Page

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citation and reference information

The Ishmael Reed Papers

1964 - 1995

Manuscript Collection Number: 398
Accessioned: Purchases, 1980-1995.
Extent: 65 linear ft.
Content: Correspondence, novels, plays, poems, essays, reviews, speeches, magazines, posters, clippings, brochures, flyers, broadsides, photographs, artwork, books, galley and page proofs, financial documents, catalogs, programs, photocopies, sound recordings, schedules, comic books, notes, transcripts, awards, certificates, minutes, audiovisual recordings, and miscellaneous ephemera.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: 1998-1999 by Shiela Pardee, completed by Anita Wellner.

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