Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Bonnie Nadell:

An Inventory of Her David Foster Wallace Collection at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Nadell, Bonnie
Title: Bonnie Nadell Collection of David Foster Wallace
Dates: 1980-2008
Extent: 1 box (.42 linear feet)
Abstract: Spanning nearly thirty years, the Bonnie Nadell Collection of David Foster Wallace documents Nadell's literary representation of Wallace, primarily with personal and professional correspondence between Nadell, Wallace, and publishing insiders.
Language: English
Access: Open for research

Acquisition: Purchase, 2011 (2011-01-015-P)
Processed by: Stephen Cooper, 2011

The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Center

Bonnie Nadell worked in publishing for Simon & Schuster in New York City during the early 1980's. She moved to San Francisco around 1985, becoming a literary agent for Frederick Hill at Frederick Hill Associates. Lacking clients as a new agent, Nadell answered the phones and went through the slush file, a group of unsolicited manuscript submissions, where an excerpt of what was to become David Foster Wallace's The Broom of the System caught her attention. Wallace became her first client and she his first and only U. S. literary agent. Nadell had a large influence on Wallace's writing career, guiding him as an agent and as a close friend. With Nadell's assistance, Wallace published three novels, three short story collections, and numerous short fiction, essays, and nonfiction works with, among many others, Little, Brown and Company, Viking Press, W. W. Norton & Company, the New Yorker, GQ, Playboy, Rolling Stone, Harper's Magazine, and the Atlantic Monthly. In addition to Wallace, Nadell has represented Sonia Nazario, Antonya Nelson, and Rebecca Solnit. She is now the vice president of Hill Nadel Literary Agency, based in Los Angeles.

"David Foster Wallace." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Foster_Wallace (accessed 4/4/2011).
DeMarco-Barrett, Barbara. "Voices on Writing: Bonnie Nadell." http://www.asja.org/newspub/files/xl200903.pdf [accessed 4/1/2011].
Neyfakh, Leon. "Remembering David Foster Wallace: 'David Would Never Stop Caring' Says Lifelong Agent." http://www.observer.com/2008/arts-culture/david-foster-wallaces-agent [accessed 4/1/2011].

Spanning nearly thirty years, the Bonnie Nadell Collection of David Foster Wallace documents Nadell's literary representation of Wallace, primarily with personal and professional correspondence between Nadell, Wallace, and publishing insiders. The collection is organized in two series: Series I. Correspondence, and Series II. Agent files. Series I. contains over forty letters (1985-2008) from Wallace to Nadell and about twenty-four email printouts between the two discussing personal and publishing issues. In a 1989 letter, Wallace voices his anticipation of a Nadell visit: ". . . Boston is fun; we'll have laughs, listen to rap and James Brown. . ." In the most recent email (2008), Wallace discusses plans to begin an article for GQ on the just-nominated Barack Obama, stressing his need for "close, candid access to a couple of Obama's junior speech guys" before they become too involved in the campaign. Additional correspondence in Series I. is between Wallace or Nadell and various translators and publishing world colleagues and acquaintances. The content of this correspondence is almost entirely professionally-oriented. In the earliest letter (1985) of the collection, a twenty-three year old Wallace introduces himself and a "representative" chapter of The Broom of the System to Frederick Hill.
Series II. contains files relating to Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, The Broom of the System, Consider the Lobster, Everything and More, Girl With Curious Hair, Infinite Jest, Signifying Rappers, and 'periodical publications.' The files mostly contain correspondence between Nadell and editors and publishers, with some Wallace correspondence as well. Interspersed are unmarked, and often undated, typescript copies of various short Wallace pieces that most likely were meant for submission to editors. These typescripts remain in their original locations within the respective folders in which they arrived, perhaps indicating the approximate date Nadell was sending them out. Also present is an essay, "Ralph and the Legal Milestone" (1980), which Wallace wrote for a creative writing class, receiving an A+.
The collection remains predominately organized as it arrived at the Ransom Center in 2011, with some minor corrections to the rough chronological order of the correspondence in each folder.

Additional Wallace materials are located in the Ransom Center in the David Foster Wallace Papers, the David Foster Wallace Collection, the Don DeLillo Papers, and the James Linville Paris Review Collection.


DeLillo, Don.
Nadell, Bonnie.
Pietsch, Michael.
Turner, Alice K.
Wallace, David Foster.


American Literature.
Authors, American--Fiction.
Authors, American--20th century.
Authors, American--21st century.
Modernism (Literature)--United States.

Document Types

Serials (publications).