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Leon Uris:

A Preliminary Inventory of His Papers in the Manuscript Collection at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Creator: Uris, Leon, 1924-2003
Title: Leon Uris Papers
Dates: 1939-1999
Extent: 169 boxes, 43 oversize boxes, 6 galley folders (108 linear feet)
Abstract: The papers of Leon Uris were received at the Ransom Center between 1997-2004 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.
Language: English
Access:

Open for research

Condition Note:

Due to their size, weight, and fragile condition, the scrapbooks in Series IV will require special care in handling.




Acquisition:

Gifts, 1997, 2003-2004 (Gift nos. 10997 and 12292)

Processed by:

Katherine Haack, Hope Rider, and Liz Murray, 2005

Repository:

The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center


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: I. 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 Alfred 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, and 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 juvenilia.

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 his 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 list. 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 life, especially during the war years. There is extensive fan correspondence from 1959 to 1994.

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 and 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 from 1944 to 1991. Due to their size, weight, and fragile condition, the scrapbooks will require special care in handling.

Throughout his career, Uris made numerous public speaking appearances, especially on behalf of Jewish causes. He was a frequent speaker on university campuses, and from 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.


Books, personal effects such as awards, and sound recordings received with the papers were transferred to appropriate departments within the Ransom Center.