||The papers of American novelist Benjamin Appel include holograph and typescript drafts,
correspondence, diaries, notebooks, clippings, reviews, contracts, and royalty statements
from 1920 to 1977. The collection is arranged in four series: I. Works, II. Correspondence,
III. Career and Personal Papers, and IV. Works of Others. Appel maintained his manuscripts
and other papers in labeled stationery boxes. The order of this inventory has been
from Appel's own arrangement. Descriptive information from the boxes has been transferred
the foldered material.
||The works in the first series are organized in four Subseries: Novels, Plays, Short
Stories, and Other Writings. Pertinent correspondence is scattered throughout the
found in this Series. Arranged alphabetically by title, the novels in Subseries A
draft of Appel's first successful book Brain Guy published by Knopf in
1934. Like Brain Guy, a number of Appel's novels are drawn from
his youthful recollections of life in Manhattan's West Side, including his last work
Hell's Kitchen, published in 1977. In all, his works have been
translated into Spanish, Italian, German, French, Dutch, Czech, Polish, Rumanian,
Russian. Unpublished novels are also present, as well as numerous drafts of the "big family novel" or "Big Book, "which Appel considered his most important work. Envisioned
as a series of novels, Appel hoped to capture the story of "man-in-society" by tracing the lives of two families across sixty years of American
history. The first of these novels A Time of Fortune, published in
1963, covers the years from 1890 to the beginning of World War I. Numerous drafts
for this series are present, covering subsequent decades, political climates, and
events. While he preferred to focus on his novels, especially the "Big Book "series, much of Appel's revenue came from another literary
source, juvenile books. His last work of this kind, Heart of Ice, adapted from an old French fairy tale, was published
in 1977. Title changes are sometimes found in Appel's works in both the draft and
stages. For example, the novel Autobiography of a Tastemaker
evolved from The Signature of Love by Brenda Appleton. Dancing in a Dream and Sweet Money Girl are similarly related, while Brain Guy reappeared in paperback as The Enforcer.
||In addition to gangsters, con-men, politics, and the mean streets of New York City,
also wrote non-fiction, including The People Talk, his
Depression-era oral history of ordinary people interviewed during an automobile tour
America. Appel's experiences in Manila during World War II (1945-46) are reflected
detailed entries of his Manila Diary and the novel
Plunder. Also the author of science fiction, Appel's last novel of
this genre, The Devil and W. Kaspar, was published at the time
of his death.
||The three plays in Subseries B echo the American urban settings found in Appel's novels,
well as the theme of war. While known primarily as a novelist, Appel's plays were
by playwright Clifford Odets who wrote letters of encouragement to Appel in the 1950s.
||Appel's published and unpublished short stories in Subseries C are organized according
the author's chronological arrangement of selected stories written in the 1920s and
as well as a number of published stories he compiled. These arrangements may reflect
order Appel devised for various short story anthologies published in the 1930s. The
remaining short stories were arranged in alphabetical order by the accessioner.
||The other writings in Subseries D reflect the diversity of Appel's literary work.
include wide-ranging formats such as a radio script and speeches for war service agencies.
Also present is material for a proposed anthology of Mexican short stories edited
including his article "Hecho en Mexico "which recounts the political
repercussions of honoring Frida Kahlo at her death (1954), by fulfilling her request
the Mexican Communist Party flag drape her coffin. Related newspaper clippings are
||Many of the literary and popular magazines in which Appel's stories and articles appear
included with this collection. These have been transfered to the Ransom Center Library.
||The bulk of Appel's correspondence from 1920-1977 is found in Series II. Included
holograph and typewritten carbons of his letters, as well as letters written to him.
maintained his correspondence in chronological order. Correspondents include friends,
family, agents, editors, publishers, writers, and playwrights, including Louis Adamic,
Nelson Algren, Nathan Ausubel, Millen Brand, Erskine Caldwell, Bennett Cerf, Stoyan
Christowe, Morton Cooper, Malcolm Cowley, J. Frank Dobie, Albert Halper, Hiram Haydn,
Knickerbocker, Paul Leslie, Yvonne MacManus, William F. Meckfessel, Edward J. O'Brien,
Pfeffer, Elmer Rice, Bill Saroyan, and Upton Sinclair. While Appel did employ a series
agents during his writing career, much of his correspondence involves self-promotion
novels, both new material and reprints of existing titles, as well as foreign translations.
The correspondence also reveals Appel's fierce opposition to censorship. At considerable
financial loss, Appel refused to sign a Texas Education Agency "Non-Subversive Oath for Authors "which was required as a prerequisite
for a 1963 textbook contract. Subsequently, Publishers' Weekly invited Appel to write an article describing his
experience with Texas and the Oath which was published in the September 7, 1964 issue.
following month, The Authors League of America adopted a resolution opposing such
pledged "the support of the League for the position of any author
who stands upon his constitutional and professional rights and refuses to take such
||The Career and Personal Papers found in Series III range from a diary begun on his
birthday in 1919, through his college and war years to his 1977 obituaries. The dates
diaries are somewhat problematic in that the years represented on the covers may not
coincide with the dates the entries were written. Appel's ink drawings are frequently
scattered throughout. Also included are numerous notebooks which, like the diaries,
story ideas and outlines. Business papers such as contracts, royalty statements, and
Washington, D.C. employment file from the mid-1940s are also present. Reviews of Appel's
works from newspapers and magazines are contained in scrapbooks as well as folders.
surrounding the financial outcome of the 1963 film Cry of Battle are also detailed.
||The last series, Works of Others, contains two works by Percy Greg and Paul Leslie
were abridged by or adapted from Appel. Also included are engravings and poems for
and poet Helen West Heller "printed in honor of her memory"
by Rose Kleidman. A photograph of Kleidman's pastel "Coal Miner's Life "is also present.
||Because of age and paper quality, many items in the collection are extremely fragile
brittle. Cautionary flags have been placed in folders where photocopying is not possible
to deterioration. Protective paper sleeves bear a "Fragile!"
note when delicate handling is required. Users of the collection are asked to be aware
these circumstances and ask staff for assistance when needed.