The papers of Leon Uris were received at the Ransom Center between 1997 and 2004 from
two sources. The first accession was formerly housed at the University of Colorado,
and several subsequent accretions came from Uris's estate after his death in June
2003. In total, the papers account for the majority of Uris's literary output,
beginning with his first novel, Battle Cry (1953),
through God in Ruins (1999). Also present are
correspondence, personal and business papers, photographic images, research
materials, scrapbooks, and speeches. The collection is organized in four Series:
Works, ca. 1953-1999; II. General Research Materials; III. Correspondence,
1939-1995; and IV. Career-Related and Personal Material.
The first Series includes material for Uris's fiction and non-fiction works, arranged
alphabetically by title, including his novels Angry Hills
(1955), Armageddon: A Novel of Berlin
(1964), Battle Cry (1953), Exodus (1958), God in Ruins (1999),
The Haj (1984), Mila
18 (1961), Mitla Pass (1988), QB VII (1970), Redemption
(1995), Topaz (1967), and Trinity (1976). In addition, produced and unproduced screenplays are
present for Angry Hills (MGM, 1959),
Armageddon, Battle Cry (Warner
Brothers, 1954), Big Country, Exodus
(United Artists, 1960), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
(Paramount, 1957), Mila 18, QB VII
(ABC-TV, 1974), Rebel Troop, Topaz
(Universal, 1969), and Trinity. Uris worked, sometimes contentiously,
with directors Robert Aldrich, Raoul Walsh, John Sturges, Otto Preminger, and
Hitchcock. Also present is the Broadway musical Ari
based on Exodus. Uris's non-fiction works include
Exodus Revisited, and two books written in
collaboration with his wife, photographer Jill Peabody Uris, Ireland: A Terrible Beauty (1975) and Jerusalem:
Song of Songs (1981).
Most of the works are represented by numerous typescript drafts and research
material. Novel and screenplay drafts for Trinity are
particularly well-represented, although the order of creation for the numerous,
frequently incomplete, drafts is difficult to ascertain. In many cases,
correspondence, excerpts, page proofs, galleys, promotional material, and reviews
are also present. There is a substantial amount of research for Uris's works on
Ireland in Series II. General Research Material. Additional reviews for works
published through 1991 are found in Uris's scrapbooks in Series IV. Posters are
present for Ari, QB
VII, and Trinity. Other writings include
story outlines, plays, radio scripts, and screenplays such as "Big Country," "Billy Mitchell," "The Fourth
Horseman," "The Great Mr.
Casey," "The Gringo,"
"Ringside," "Tales of Forever Island," as well as articles and
The general research material in Series II. includes information on China, Ireland,
the Middle East, New York City, the South Pacific, and Tahiti. At the time of
death, Uris was working on projects involving China and immigration to the Lower
East Side. Arranged alphabetically by subject, the voluminous research on Ireland
was gathered primarily on a 1972 trip with his wife Jill. In traveling the country,
they collected countless brochures and maps, as well as current newspapers and
sectarian pamphlets on "The Troubles" in Northern Ireland.
Ireland: A Terrible Beauty and Trinity
were products of this research.
The correspondence in Series III. is arranged alphabetically by person or subject,
followed by date order for larger runs of letters. Generally, both incoming and
outgoing correspondence is present, although incoming letters predominate. Files
include charitable contributions, Uris's divorce from Jill Peabody, family, fans,
friends, fun, hate mail, rejected invitations and requests, "nuts," the University
of Colorado, and letters Uris dictated to his secretary from 1974-1976 that remain
in the original shorthand. Also present is correspondence with Uris's publishers
Curtis Brown and Doubleday. A number of business files originated from Uris's
attorney, Herbert Schlosberg, and are identified as (Schlosberg) in the folder
Additional Schlosberg files are scattered throughout the collection. The family
correspondence consists of Uris's letters to his mother, father, and sister Essie
from 1939 to 1981. The letters are full of detail regarding all aspects of his
especially during the war years. There is extensive fan correspondence from 1959
Series IV. Career-Related and Personal Material contains articles about Uris,
addresses, business and financial files, material on the 1976 presidential campaign
of Henry "Scoop" Jackson, photographs and slides, scrapbooks, speeches, and travel
brochures. The business and financial files, primarily Schlosberg's, include
contracts, financial statements, rights, royalties, and taxes. The photographs
slides document Uris's personal and literary activities from 1927-1977. Two family
albums cover the period 1927-1963. Production photographs from Battle Cry are present, as are numerous slides of Uris's
vacation and research trips. The slides have been retained in their original boxes
and cases, and are arranged in date order.
The scrapbooks range from general publicity to reviews of specific works such as
Battle Cry, Angry
Hills, Exodus, and QB
VII. Also present are clippings and photographs covering the opening of
Uris's book store, Exodus Books and Records, in Sherman Oaks, California, in 1960.
In all, the scrapbooks thoroughly document Uris's life for nearly fifty years
1944 to 1991. Due to their size, weight, and fragile condition, the scrapbooks
require special care in handling.
Throughout his career, Uris made numerous public speaking appearances, especially
behalf of Jewish causes. He was a frequent speaker on university campuses, and
1989 to 1990 he toured the country on a lecture and fundraising circuit for Soviet
Jewry. The speech drafts, arranged by date from 1959 to 1993, reflect this activity.
Works by others in this series include a 1954 diary kept by Uris's wife Betty, his
father's memoirs, and a watercolor drawing by portrait artist Gordon Wetmore.