Request Checked Items
University of Texas at Austin

Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.:

An Inventory of Its Records at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
Title: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Records
Dates: 1873-1996 (bulk 1945-1980)
Extent: 1526 boxes, plus art work, film, galleys, realia, and video (635.8 linear feet)
Abstract: The records of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. document the daily activities of an established and prestigious publishing firm. Beyond recording the history of the firm, its founders, editors, and other staff, the collection serves to articulate the publishing process (especially in terms of editorial and promotional practices at Knopf), to offer detailed information on the numerous prominent authors and books published by the firm, and to illuminate the interactions between publishers, authors, editors, literary agents, manuscript readers, translators, and book designers, all engaged in the endeavor to produce quality books. The collection also provides a glimpse of the personal lives of the Knopfs, which were closely intertwined with their business concerns. The collection contains chiefly correspondence. Author's manuscripts were generally not kept by the company; however, a selected number were retained. Since the firm is still in existence, important vital documents and financial records are not present in this collection, with the exception of two defunct enterprises.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-00062
Language: English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, and other languages.
Access: Open for research with the exception of an autobiographical fragment by Blanche Knopf, folder 685.10. Researchers must create an online Research Account and agree to the Materials Use Policy before using archival materials.
Use Policies: Ransom Center collections may contain material with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in the collections without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the Ransom Center and The University of Texas at Austin assume no responsibility.
Restrictions on Use: Authorization for publication is given on behalf of the University of Texas as the owner of the collection and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder which must be obtained by the researcher. For more information please see the Ransom Center's Open Access and Use Policies.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Records (Manuscript Collection MS-00062). Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin.
Acquisition: Gifts, 1963-1996
Processed by: Jennifer Peters, Mandy York, Michele Shukers, and Erika Heinen, 1996

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Organizational History

Organizational History

Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
The firm of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. was founded in 1915 in New York, New York. Alfred A. Knopf set up his business in a one-room office on W. 42nd Street with slightly less than five thousand dollars. Inspired by the windmill symbol used by William Heinemann & Co., and using an idea from Blanche Wolf, his fiancée, he adopted the symbol of the borzoi as his alliterative trademark.
The first book published by the firm was Four Plays, by Emile Augier, printed by the Plimpton Press. From the very beginning, the firm demonstrated that it would be unique, binding the book in orange and blue, and advertising the book by emphasizing its imprint, instead of its author or subject. Ten other books were published in 1915; many of them were Russian translations, which were easy to obtain in sheets from England. Also in 1915, Carl Van Vechten became associated with the firm, beginning a professional and personal relationship with the Knopfs that would last for decades.
The firm expanded rapidly over the next few years. In 1916, the firm published 29 books, including its first big success, W. H. Hudson's Green Mansions. In 1917, 37 books were published, and the firm officially incorporated in 1918, with Alfred Knopf as president, Blanche Knopf as vice-president, and Samuel Knopf (Alfred's father) as treasurer. Authors published before 1920 include Leonid Andreyev, Pio Baroja, Algernon Blackwood, Witter Bynner, Richard Curle, E. M. Delafield, Floyd Dell, Max Eastman, J. S. Fletcher, Gilbert Frankau, Kahlil Gibran, Ivan A. Goncharov, Robert Graves, Joseph Hergesheimer, Alfred Kreymborg, Wyndham Lewis, H. L. Mencken, George Jean Nathan, Ezra Pound, Stanislaw Przybyszewski, Dorothy Richardson, Eunice Tietjens, Carl Van Vechten, and Louis Wilkinson.
The next decade was a period of explosive growth for the still young company. In 1920, Knopf signed Willa Cather, who "was convinced that [Knopf] had set out to do something unusual and individual in publishing"; the firm would publish sixteen titles by the author, beginning with Youth and the Bright Medusa in 1920. Also in that year, the firm published Clarence Day's This Simian World. In 1921, Alfred and Blanche Knopf traveled to Europe in search of new talent, visiting Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and France. These journeys abroad would continue for decades and established Knopf as the premiere American publisher of European, Asian, and Latin American writers. Additionally, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. was at the forefront of new American literary trends; for example, they signed up Harlem Renaissance writers such as Langston Hughes, and were especially encouraging of women writers. The firm also relied heavily on the recommendation of other writers in these years. H. L. Mencken recommended Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann, Carl Van Vechten suggested Wallace Stevens and Elinor Wylie, and Witter Bynner introduced Knopf to Kahlil Gibran. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. grew so quickly that in 1922 it moved out of its original office to the Hecksher Building on 57th St. and 5th Avenue. In 1923, the firm published Gibran's The Prophet, one of its most remarkable sellers. In that same year, Knopf began publishing The American Mercury, founded by H. L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan. The partnership continued for eleven years, and introduced writers such as Herbert Asbury, James M. Cain, Logan Clendening, Harvey Fergusson, and Ruth Suckow to the imprint. The magazine featured a monthly advertisement of the firm, known as the Borzoi Broadside, which later evolved into the Borzoi Quarterly, a periodical written by Alfred A. Knopf promoting new books, interspersed with philosophical comments by the publisher. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. opened a London office in 1926, although it closed five years later. Significant writers published in the 1920s include Thomas Beer, Hilaire Belloc, Mary Borden, Claude Bragdon, Elizabeth J. Coatsworth, A. E. Coppard, Miguel Covarrubias, Mildred Cram, Clarence Day, Warwick Deeping, Walter de la Mare, Harvey Fergusson, Zona Gale, David Garnett, Andre Gide, Louis Golding, Knut Hamsum, Robert Hillyer, Langston Hughes, Fannie Hurst, Julian Huxley, Storm Jameson, Johannes V. Jensen, D. H. Lawrence, Arthur Machen, Thomas Mann, Katherine Mansfield, Paul Morand, John Middleton Murry, Ernest Newman, P. D. Ouspensky, T. F. Powys, M. P. Shiel, I. J. Singer, Edith Sitwell, G. B. Stern, Ruth Suckow, Sigrid Undset, Carl Van Doren, and Francis Brett Young. By the end of the decade, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. was considered one of the most innovative and prestigious publishing houses in the United States.
The firm garnered its prestige not only from its list of authors, but from the physical quality of the books it published. Alfred Knopf took an unusual interest in the aesthetics of trade books, and made sure that his books were produced with brightly colored dust jackets, well-made bindings, and attractive fonts. Book designer Claude Bragdon worked with the firm in its first year, and Elmer Adler and W. A. Dwiggins began designing Knopf books in the 1920s. Knopf books were produced by other important designers, including Warren Chappell, Guy Fleming, Carl Hertzog, Bruce Rogers, Rudolph Ruzicka, George Salter, and Vincent Torre.
Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. continued to expand over the next three decades. Samuel Knopf died in 1932, and the firm weathered its first financial crisis three years later. In 1934, William A. Koshland joined the company, and remained associated with the firm for more than fifty years, rising to President and Chairman of the Board. The firm also moved to 501 Madison Avenue in 1939, its home for the next thirty years.
In 1942, Blanche Knopf visited South America, contacting authors and publishers. Three years later, the firm published the first of many texts from the region, Jorge Amado's The Violent Land. Further, she was one of the first publishers to visit Europe after World War II, signing up Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre. Her trips, and those of other editors, brought in new talent from Europe, South America, and Asia. The Knopfs also hired their son, Alfred "Pat" Jr., as secretary and trade books manager after the war.
By the late 1940s Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. was solidly established in the literary marketplace. Although the reins were still held tightly by Alfred and Blanche Knopf, they allowed their editors to pursue their own literary interests, which garnered additional prestige for the company. For example, editor Harold Strauss' interest in Japan brought in the writers Yukio Mishima, Kenzaburo Oe, and Yasunari Kawabata. Herbert Weinstock's background in music led to the publication of well-known biographies of composers. Other editors of note include Angus Cameron, Charles Elliott, Lee Goerner, Robert Gottlieb, Ashbel Green, Carol Brown Janeway, Judith Jones, Michael Magzis, Anne McCormick, Nancy Nicholas, Dan Okrent, Regina Ryan, Sophie Wilkins, and Vicky Wilson.
Although the editors had primary contact with authors, other staffers were involved in the publishing process. The firm employed literary scouts, who sought out new talent throughout the United States and all over the world. After a manuscript was submitted to the firm, often by an agent instead of the author, it was read by at least one editor or manuscript reader contracted by the firm. A form known as a "white sheet" would be attached to the manuscript, detailing its submission and leaving space for the reader's comments. If the work seemed promising, it would be sent to other readers for their opinions; sometimes as many as ten readers, including Alfred or Blanche Knopf, would examine the work before coming to an ultimate decision. If accepted, an editor would correspond with the author, suggesting manuscript changes and working out the details of publication. Within the firm, a contract would be drawn up under the guidance of long-time treasurer, Joseph C. Lesser, and signed by all parties. If legal work was necessary, company lawyers like Stern & Reubens read the manuscript looking for libel or obscenity issues. Once in final form, the manuscript was turned over to the printer, and initial plans for the design of the text and dust jacket were made. The Publicity Department began gathering information on the author, soliciting blurbs from established writers, and planning the promotional process. Salesmen encouraged bookstores to stock the book, and helped identify the best markets for the text. Once published, careful records were maintained on sales and profits, as well as clippings of reviews, fan letters, and requests for publication rights from foreign publishers.
In 1954, Pat Knopf added Vintage Books, a paperback imprint, to the firm. However, in 1959 he left to form his own publishing house, Atheneum. Shortly thereafter, Alfred and Blanche Knopf decided to sell the firm to Random House in April 1960. In an agreement with long-time friends Bennett Cerf and Donald S. Klopfer, Random House took over much of the technical side of the business, but allowed the firm to retain its autonomy as an imprint. Alfred and Blanche Knopf also joined the Board of Directors at Random House. The firm moved with Random House in 1969 to its present location at 201 E. 50th St.
Blanche Knopf had become president in 1957. After her death in 1966, William A. Koshland received the title. Two years later, Robert Gottlieb, formerly of Simon & Schuster, joined the firm as vice-president, and became president and editor in chief after Alfred Knopf's official retirement in 1973. Gottlieb remained at Knopf until 1987, when Ajai Singh "Sonny" Mehta became president.
Known for over 80 years for the quality of its list, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., remains one of the most prestigious publishing houses in the United States. The firm was the first to publish highly acclaimed novelists such as Shelby Hearon, John Hersey, and John Updike. It also drew in established writers such as Joseph Hergesheimer and Robert Nathan. Its commitment to readable and scholarly works of history, science, and the environment gave the firm a trusted reputation with academic and lay readers alike. Further, Knopf published at least one book by each of the following Nobel Prize winning authors: Ivo Andric, Ivan A. Bunin, Elias Canetti, T. S. Eliot, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Knut Hamsun, Johannes V. Jensen, Yasunari Kawabata, Halldor X. Laxness, Thomas Mann, Wladyslaw S. Reymont, George Seferis, Mikhail Sholokhov, Frans E. Sillanpaa, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Sigrid Undset, and Verner von Heidenstam.

Biographical Sketch

Alfred A. Knopf, 1892-1984
The history of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. is intimately tied to its founder, Alfred A. Knopf. Born September 12, 1892, to Samuel and Ida Japhe Knopf (who died when he was four years old), Knopf grew up in a privileged household in New York, headed by his father, a successful advertising agent. Knopf entered Columbia College in 1908, where he became interested in the fields of history and literature. Early on, he displayed the spirited boldness that would bring him such success in publishing. Prompted by an assignment to write an essay on a contemporary author, Knopf initiated a correspondence with John Galsworthy. Following his graduation in 1912, he visited Europe and met with the author, who recommended the writers W. H. Hudson and Joseph Conrad; both would play a role in Knopf's earliest publishing ventures. Additionally, Knopf visited bookstores throughout England and Europe, noting the aesthetic appeal of certain books and choosing favorite publishers. By the end of the summer, he said, "I came home...determined to be a publisher and not a lawyer as the family had intended."
Knopf's entry into publishing was not easy. As the established publishing industry was overwhelmingly gentile and conservative, the prospects for a young Jewish man were not favorable. However, in October 1912, with his father's assistance, Knopf was hired at Doubleday & Company as a junior accountant. From the beginning of his employment, Knopf took the initiative to learn as much as he could about publishing, visiting the composing room to offer suggestions on binding, and reading manuscript submissions. Because of his familiarity with Joseph Conrad, he was one of the first to read Conrad's manuscript Chance. Enthusiastic about the novel and displeased with Doubleday's lackluster promotion, Knopf sent letters to well-known writers such as Rex Beach, Theodore Dreiser, and George Barr McCutcheon, asking for what would come to be known as "publicity blurbs." Additionally, Knopf's enthusiasm for Conrad led him to contact H. L. Mencken, also a Conrad admirer, initiating a close friendship that would last until Mencken's death in 1956. In March 1914, Knopf left Doubleday to join Mitchell Kennerley's firm, in part because of Kennerley's commitment to good book design. While there, Knopf wrote sales letters and sold books on the road.
By the next year, at the age of twenty-three, Knopf was ready to strike out on his own. With the financial assistance of his father and the support of his fiancée (and later wife), Blanche Wolf, the firm of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. was born in the summer of 1915. From the very beginning, Knopf took an interest in the design and manufacturing of the books, and made every effort to associate the firm with quality literature. In the summer of 1918 he became president of the firm, a title he would hold for thirty-nine years.
Because Knopf's personal life revolved around the firm, most of his activities in the 1920s and 1930s were associated with the world of publishing and literature. He developed close friendships with many of the writers on the firm's list, such as Willa Cather, Thomas Mann, and Carl Van Vechten, and he persuaded existing friends such as H. L. Mencken and Joseph Hergesheimer to publish with him. Knopf's youthful enthusiasm and sartorial style caused a stir in the literary world; within a few years, his personality was as associated with the firm as the borzoi trademark. With Blanche's considerable literary acumen and the financial expertise of his father (who joined the firm in 1921 as treasurer and remained in that post until his death in 1932), Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. expanded rapidly during the 1920s and 1930s. Knopf documented these years by photographing and filming the many visitors to his office and home in Purchase, New York (later gathered together in a film titled "A Publisher is Known by the Company He Keeps"). When he was not invited to join the established publishing associations, he formed the Book Table, a luncheon group made up of publishers, book sellers, librarians, and other literary men.
At the end of World War II, Knopf began to delegate some of his responsibilities to other Knopf employees. While still taking an active role as president, he gave his wife almost total control over the firm's European operations and allowed trusted associates such as William A. Koshland to oversee the administrative business of the firm. Further, a series of superlative editors helped bring in new talent, garnering additional prestige for the firm.
He never lost his interest in fine books. Besides maintaining life-long friendships with book designers Warren Chappell and William A. Dwiggins, Knopf was a member of several book arts groups. He was honored in 1950 by the American Institute of Graphic Arts for his contribution to American book design. In interviews near the end of his life, he criticized the lack of style and elegance in contemporary books.
Knopf's interests outside the world of publishing were diverse. He was well-known for his love of fine wine and food, and was a member of numerous wine-tasting and dining clubs. His friendships with Ernest Newman and Arthur Rubinstein complemented his love of music, and he was a regular concert-goer. His passion for history never waned, and he carried on life-long correspondences with prominent historians such as Henry Steele Commager, Richard A. Hofstadter, and both Arthur Schlesingers. He was particularly excited by historians with excellent prose styles, and often deplored their small numbers. Additionally, he was elected to the Council of the Institute of Early American History and Culture in 1948, and was selected a corresponding member of the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Colonial Society of Massachusetts.
After an excursion to the Western United States in 1948, Knopf became passionately interested in the national parks and forests, sparking his life-long activity in conservation issues. With such contacts as National Parks Service Director Newton B. Drury, writer Freeman Tilden, and historian Bernard DeVoto, Knopf encouraged the publication of environmentally progressive titles and wrote numerous letters to legislators urging land conservation. In 1950 he joined the Advisory Board on National Parks, Historic Sites, Buildings, and Monuments of the National Park Service, serving as chairman for five years.
In 1961, Knopf made his first trip to Brazil, and it was on this visit that Knopf's literary relationships deepened to friendship. He became extremely interested in Latin America at that time, and visited regularly throughout the 1960s and 1970s. For the rest of his life, he corresponded regularly with writers such as Jorge Amado and Gilberto Freyre, the publisher Alfredo Machado, and translators Harriet de Onis and Barbara Shelby Merello. Blanche and Alfred Knopf acted as godparents to Freyre's first granddaughter. Additionally, he collected materials from clippings to published reports on the politics of the region.
After Blanche's death in 1966, Knopf married the former Knopf author Helen Hedrick in 1967 in Rio de Janeiro. He officially retired in 1972, becoming chairman emeritus of the firm, a position he held until his death. He remained active after his retirement, traveling, corresponding with politicians, academicians, and literary friends, and family, and writing his unpublished memoirs. Knopf died August 11, 1984.
Knopf became a publishing legend within ten years of the founding of the firm that still bears his name. He applied exacting standards to both his firm and his personal life, demanding the best from not only writers, editors, and staff, but also from newspapers, politicians, and even hotel staff and waiters. The standard of excellence he maintained led H. L. Mencken to write of Knopf, "he is, by my standards, the perfect publisher."

Biographical Sketch

Blanche W. Knopf, 1894-1966
Blanche Wolf was born July 30, 1894, to Julius and Bertha Wolf, in New York City. She was educated privately and graduated from the Gardner School. She met Alfred A. Knopf in 1911, and, after they were engaged, she encouraged him to start his own firm. They were married April 4, 1916, and she gave birth to Alfred "Pat" Knopf on June 17, 1918.
Blanche Knopf was involved with Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. from its very beginning and devoted herself to the firm. She was named vice-president in 1921, and played a key role in establishing the firm's reputation by traveling to Europe and South America, scouting out writers, literary contacts, and by working closely with translators. Her travels not only brought in a rich variety of writers, but cemented personal relationships, full of trust and respect with authors such as Albert Camus, literary agents like Jenny Bradley of the William Aspenwall Bradley Agency, artists, ambassadors, and other influential people. These relationships, coupled with her similarly strong American connections, created a solid foundation of high quality for the firm over the decades.
Blanche Knopf's trip to Latin America in 1942 established the firm's presence in the area. She signed up the writers Eduardo Mallea, German Arciniegas, and Jorge Amado. She was eventually honored by Brazil with the Order of the Southern Cross.
At the end of World War II, Alfred Knopf turned over the European side of the business to Mrs. Knopf, and she traveled to the continent almost yearly. Among the writers she successfully courted were Elizabeth Bowen, Hammond Innes, Angela Thirkell, Alan Sillitoe, Mikhail Sholokhov, Mario Soldati, and Elinor Wylie. Mrs. Knopf read and selected manuscripts from all of Europe, but her most passionate interest lay in French literature. A life-long Francophile, she brought Albert Camus, Andre Gide, Jules Romains, and Jean-Paul Sartre to the firm. She was named a Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur by the French government in 1949, and became an Officier de la Legion d'Honneur in 1960. Blanche Knopf worked closely with American writers as well, including Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, Langston Hughes, William Shirer, and Robert Nathan. In 1957, she was named president of the firm. Plagued with ill health in the early 1960s, she refused to slow down and continued working until her death on June 4, 1966.
Blanche Knopf was the only significant woman publisher working in America in the 20th century. She faced barriers because of her sex, and was excluded from a number of men's publishing clubs. She once declined an invitation to speak on publishing at a women's college, saying there was "no future worth mentioning" for women. Nevertheless, she made enormous contributions to the success of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., and to American publishing in general. In a memorial issue of the Borzoi Quarterly, Alfred A. Knopf wrote of his late wife: "She brought charm, sophistication, and enlightenment to a publishing world predominantly masculine. She has a special place in the publishers' Hall of Fame."


A Bibliography of Alfred A. Knopf Imprints through 1971. Unpublished typescript, 197-.
Fadiman, Clifton, ed. Fifty Years: Being a Retrospective Collection of Novels, Novellas, Tales, Drama, Poetry, and Reportage and Essays (Whether Literary, Musical, Contemplative, Historical, Biographical, Argumentative, or Gastronomical), All Drawn from Volumes Issued during the last Half-Century by Alfred and Blanche Knopf, Over This Sign and Device. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1965.
Knopf, Alfred A. Portrait of a Publisher 1915/1965. 2 vols. New York: Typophiles, 1965.
Knopf, Alfred A. "Those Damned Reminiscences": Further Selections From the Memoirs of Alfred A. Knopf. Ed. Cathy Henderson. Austin, Tex.: Harry Ransom Center, 1995.
The Library Chronicle, Vol. 26, nos 1 & 2. Austin, Tex.: Harry Ransom Center, 1995.
Prescott, Peter. Lecture. Harry Ransom Center, 12 Sept. 1995.
Tebbel, John. Between Covers: The Rise and Transformation of Book Publishing in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.


The Knopf Records are arranged in the following Series and described in further detail in the Scope and Contents and Series Descriptions sections of this finding aid.
  • SERIES I. GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE, 1922-1971, bulk 1946-1966, boxes 1-500
  • SERIES II. ALFRED A. KNOPF PERSONAL, 1874-1984, bulk 1953-1984, boxes 501-685
    • Subseries A. Personal Correspondence, 1895-1984, bulk 1950-1980, boxes 501-562
      • Sub-subseries 1. Chronological Files, 1911-1984, bulk 1958-1984, boxes 501-560
      • Sub-subseries 2. Blanche Wolf Knopf, 1912-1923, box 561
      • Sub-subseries 3. Manuscripts Removed from Books, 1895-1983, bulk 1950-1980, boxes 561-562
    • Subseries B. Office/Subject Files, 1894-1979, bulk 1940-1965, boxes 563-595
    • Subseries C. Purchase Files, 1876-1985, boxes 595- 673
      • Sub-subseries 1. Memoirs, 1876-1985, boxes 595-620
        • a. Chronological Files, 1910-1983, boxes 595-609
        • b. Memoir Drafts, 1892-1982, boxes 610-618
        • c. Willa Cather, 1946-1985, box 618
        • d. H. L. Mencken, 1876-1981, boxes 618-620
      • Sub-subseries 2. Diaries, 1919-1984, boxes 621-647
      • Sub-subseries 3. Interviews, 1964-1978, box 643
      • Sub-subseries 4. Alphabetical Files, 1897-1984, boxes 648-669
      • Sub-subseries 5. Clippings and Reports, 1931-1984, boxes 669-673
    • Subseries D. Other Subjects and Interests, 1874-1985, boxes 673-685
  • SERIES III. BLANCHE W. KNOPF, 1918-1966, bulk 1940-1966, boxes 685-697
  • SERIES IV. AUTHOR AND BOOK DESIGNER FILES, 1911-1979, bulk 1920-1960, boxes 698-734
    • Subseries A. Author Files, 1911-1979, bulk 1921-1956, boxes 698-731
    • Subseries B. Book Designer Files, 1927-1954, boxes 731-734
  • SERIES V. EDITORS' FILES, 1873-1984, bulk 1960-1980, boxes 735-932
    • Subseries A. Angus Cameron, 1873-1984, bulk 1960-1978, boxes 735-787
    • Subseries B. Charles Elliott, 1908-1984, bulk 1971-1982, boxes 788-811
    • Subseries C. Lee Goerner, 1968-1980, boxes 812-813
    • Subseries D. Robert Gottlieb, 1949-1984, boxes 814-827
    • Subseries E. Ashbel Green, 1957-1984, boxes 827-839
    • Subseries F. Carol Brown Janeway, 1970-1983, boxes 839-847
    • Subseries G. Judith Jones, 1926-1980, bulk 1958-1977, boxes 847-859
    • Subseries H. William A. Koshland, 1935-1982, bulk 1967-1976, boxes 859-898
    • Subseries I. Subseries I. Michael Magzis, 1967-1976, boxes 899-900
    • Subseries J. Anne McCormick, 1966-1982, box 900
    • Subseries K. Nancy Nicholas, 1948-1984, bulk 1970-1980, boxes 900-906
    • Subseries L. Dan Okrent, 1949-1974, bulk 1967-1974, boxes 906-907
    • Subseries M. Regina Ryan, 1919-1976, bulk 1967-1974, boxes 907-914
    • Subseries N. Harold Strauss, 1950-1981, bulk 1966-1974, boxes 914-917
    • Subseries O. Herbert Weinstock, 1950-1971, bulk 1967-1971, boxes 918-921
    • Subseries P. Sophie Wilkins, 1927-1972, bulk 1969-1972, boxes 922-924
    • Subseries Q. Vicky Wilson, 1967-1983, boxes 925-932
  • SERIES VI. EDITORIAL DEPARTMENT FILES, 1930-1984, bulk 1948-1978, boxes 933-1172
    • Subseries A. Contract Data Sheets, 1948-1984, bulk 1948-1970, boxes 933-936
    • Subseries B. Foreign Rights, 1955-1983, bulk 1965-1976, boxes 936-957
    • Subseries C. Manuscript Records, 1930-1979, bulk 1941-1968, boxes 957-963
    • Subseries D. Reject Files, 1933-1968, bulk 1952-1968, boxes 964-1115
    • Subseries E. Rejection Sheets, 1931-1983, bulk 1948-1974, boxes 1116-1170
    • Subseries F. [Translations], 1961-1978, boxes 1171-1172
  • SERIES VII. OTHER DEPARTMENT FILES, 1916-1996, bulk 1943-1968, boxes 1173-1514
    • Subseries A. Publicity Department, 1916-1996, bulk 1943-1968, boxes 1173-1513
      • Sub-subseries 1. Publicity Files, 1916-1967, bulk 1943-1958, boxes 1173-1289
      • Sub-subseries 2. Permanent Title Folders, 1916-1983, bulk 1955-1968, boxes 1290-1494
      • Sub-subseries 3. W. T. Loverd Title Folders, 1968-1970, bulk 1969, boxes 1495-1498
      • Sub-subseries 4. Fall 1984 Title Folders, 1983-1985, boxes 1498-1502
      • Sub-subseries 5. Fall 1985 Title Folders, 1984-1986, boxes 1502-1505
      • Sub-subseries 6. Jane Becker Friedman, 1966-1988, bulk 1975-1976 and 1983-1984, boxes 1505-1509
      • Sub-subseries 7. Author Questionnaires Pre-1960, 1929-1965, bulk 1948-1955, boxes 1510-1511
      • Sub-subseries 8. General Promotional Materials, 1923-1996, boxes 1511-1513
    • Subseries B. Sales Department, 1939-1970, bulk 1948-1959, boxes 1513-1514
    • Subseries C. College Department, 1951-1990, bulk 1951-1959, box1514
  • SERIES VIII. LONDON OFFICE FILES, 1910-1957, bulk 1928-1940, boxes 1514-1518
  • SERIES IX. AMERICAN MERCURY, 1923-1960, bulk 1933-1936, box 1519
  • Index of Correspondents
  • Appendix I. Rejected Authors

Scope and Contents

Scope and Contents

The records of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1873-1995 (bulk 1945-1980), document the daily activities of an established and prestigious publishing firm. Beyond recording the history of the firm, its founders, editors, and other staff, the collection serves to articulate the publishing process (especially in terms of editorial and promotional practices at Knopf), to offer detailed information on the numerous prominent authors and books published by the firm, and to illuminate the interactions between publishers, authors, editors, literary agents, manuscript readers, translators, and book designers, all engaged in the endeavor to produce quality books. The pervasive influence and hallmarks of the firm's founders Alfred A. and Blanche Wolf Knopf are evident throughout the archive: unwavering commitment to worthy books; introduction of international writers to the American public; insistence on quality book design and manufacture; and the pursuit of books on topics of personal interest to the Knopfs and their editors. The collection also provides a glimpse of the personal lives of the Knopfs, which were closely intertwined with their business concerns.
The collection's date span is strongest for the post-World War II period to the 1970s, due to an office move in 1945 that precipitated the destruction of many of the firm's older files. However, some of the more important author files from Knopf's "golden age" of publishing in the 1920s and 1930s were saved for their literary significance. Other early records document promotional activities, and a number of Alfred Knopf's personal files contain earlier date ranges. Only a very few items, generally consisting of individual family documents and single pieces of correspondence, date from prior to the founding of the firm in 1915.
The collection is arranged in nine series: I. General Correspondence, 1922-1971 (500 boxes); II. Alfred A. Knopf Personal, 1874-1984 (184 boxes); III. Blanche W. Knopf, 1918-1968 (12 boxes); IV. Author and Book Designer Files, 1911-1979 (36 boxes); V. Editors' Files, 1873-1984 (197 boxes); VI. Editorial Department Files, 1930-1984 (239 boxes); VII. Other Department Files, 1916-1995 (341 boxes); VIII. London Office Files, 1910-1957 (4 boxes); IX. American Mercury, 1923-1960 (1 box). The original order has been maintained in as many cases as possible, generally following the standard firm practice of grouping files by year and alphabetizing within each year. Occasionally subseries have been alphabetized for ease of use. In a very few instances subseries have had order imposed upon them by the archivist. An extensive name index, listing more than 52,000 correspondents across the nine series, has been compiled by the catalogers and can be found at the end of this finding aid.
While containing chiefly correspondence, the collection also includes account books, address books, appointment books, autobiographies, awards, balance sheets, book reviews, business records, certificates, Christmas cards, contact sheets, contracts, copyright certificates, diaries, drafts, editorials, ephemera, exhibition catalogs, financial records, galley proofs, guest registers, house organs, internal forms, interviews, invitations, invoices, itineraries, journals, legal documents, mailing lists, membership lists, menus, a motion picture, negatives, personal effects, photographs, press releases, profit and loss statements, promotional materials, publishers' catalogs, reminiscences, schedules, slides, and tear sheets. Authors' manuscripts were generally not kept by the company; however, a selected number were retained. These include writings by Alfred A. and Blanche Knopf, as well as by authors such as Elizabeth Bowen, Albert Camus, Gilberto Freyre, John Galsworthy, Knut Hamsun, Langston Hughes, William Humphrey, Thomas Mann, Yukio Mishima, and Carl Van Vechten, among others. Since the firm is still in existence, important vital documents and financial records are not present in this collection, with the exception of two defunct enterprises. Materials relating to personnel, sales, book productions, and other publishing areas (such as Vintage paperbacks, periodicals, children's books, and college texts) are incidental to the collection and are present in very small numbers.
The primary focus of the collection is on the editorial and promotional side of the publishing business, particularly emphasizing Knopf trade books. By using the firm's central editorial correspondence files (Series I, General Correspondence) in combination with the working files of seventeen Knopf editors (Series V, Editors' Files), the internal forms and documentation contained in the Editorial Department Files (Series VI), and the abundant publicity and promotional materials (Series VII, Other Department Files), researchers can follow the publishing process from initial submission, through rejection or acceptance, editing, publication, promotion, and public response, generally in the form of correspondence. While many files consist of single exchanges with the firm, the more significant correspondence files document the close and complex relationship that developed between an editor and author, also revealing the respect and loyalty the firm fostered. The presence of internal paperwork further illuminates the publishing process, offering frank opinions and information for the firm's private use only. Other files demonstrate that relationships with quality literary agents, excellent translators, qualified manuscript readers, trusted foreign publishers, and talented book designers all contributed to the success of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
From its beginnings as a publisher of Russian literature, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. quickly established a reputation for promoting quality writers from all over the world, and numerous literary figures are well represented in the collection. The following genres and writers confirm the breadth of the firm's list, and are usually represented in multiple files across the nine series:
  • African-American literature: James Baldwin, Chester Himes, Langston Hughes;
  • American literature: Frederick Buechner, Witter Bynner, W. R. Burnett, George Harmon Coxe, Clarence Day, Bergen Evans, Mark Harris, Sterling Hayden, Joseph Hergesheimer, John Hersey, Gilbert Highet, Randall Jarrell, Oscar Lewis, H. L. Mencken, George Jean Nathan, Robert Nathan, Jack O'Connor, Sylvia Plath, Chaim Raphael, Conrad Richter, Maurice Samuel, Robert Shaplen, William Shirer, Wallace Stegner, Wallace Stevens, John Updike, Carl Van Vechten;
  • British literature: Eric Ambler, Brendan Behan, Roald Dahl, John Galsworthy, Macdonald Hastings, W. H. Hudson, Hammond Innes, Nicholas Monsarrat, Alan Sillitoe;
  • European literature: Pio Baroja, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Pierre Daninos, Friedrich Durrenmatt, Ilya Ehrenburg, Kahlil Gibran, Andre Gide, Jean Giono, Jose Maria Gironella, Knut Hamsun, Joseph Kessel, Thomas Mann, Henri de Montherlant, Elsa Morante, Jules Romains, Jean-Paul Sartre, Mikhail Sholokhov, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Germaine Tillion;
  • "Hard-boiled" detective fiction: James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Ross Macdonald
  • Japanese literature: Kobo Abe, Yasunari Kawabata, Yukio Mishima, Jiro Osaragi, Junichiro Tanizaki;
  • Latin American literature: Jorge Amado, German Arciniegas, José Donoso, Gilberto Freyre, Joao Guimaraes Rosa, Clarice Lispector, Eduardo Mallea;
  • Texas literature: Robert Flynn, William Goetzmann, John Graves; Ben K. Green, A. C. Greene, Shelby Hearon, William Humphrey;
  • Women writers: Elizabeth Bowen, Kay Boyle, Willa Cather, Mildred Cram, Nan Fairbrother, Erna Fergusson, Jon Godden, Rumer Godden, Shirley Ann Grau, Shirley Hazzard, Rodello Hunter, Storm Jameson, Pamela Hansford Johnson, Margaret Lane, Margaret Laurence, Anne S. Mehdevi, Muriel Spark, Elizabeth Taylor, Angela Thirkell, Anne Goodwin Winslow, Elinor Wylie.
Apart from literary texts published, the collection also documents the firm's interest in the areas of history, the environment, science, law, politics, music, and cookbooks, following the careers of writers such as Paul M. Angle, James Beard, Simone Beck, Samuel Flagg Bemis, Eric Bentley, Pierre Berton, Geoffrey Bibby, June Bingham, Morris Bishop, Hal Borland, Francois Bourliere, Julian P. Boyd, Fawn Brodie, Sally Carraghar, C. W. Ceram, Julia Child, Robert G. Cleland, Alistair Cooke, Carleton S. Coon, Virginius Dabney, Clifton Fadiman, Frank Freidel, Donald Gallup, Arnold Gingrich, Lawrence H. Gipson, Eric F. Goldman, Albert J. Guerard, Louis M. Hacker, Learned Hand, Melville J. Herskovits, Alger Hiss, Richard Hofstadter, Alvin M. Josephy, V. O. Key, Mildred Knopf, Irving Kolodin, Alexis Lichine, Richard G. Lillard, Samuel Eliot Morison, Allan Nevins, Ernest Newman, Sigurd F. Olson, Arthur Rubinstein, Abram L. Sachar, Eric Sevareid, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Joseph Szigeti, Benjamin Platt Thomas, Freeman Tilden, Philip M. Wagner, and T. Harry Williams.
Among the many others who did not publish for the firm, but are nevertheless well represented in the collection, are literary agents Franziska Becker, Lurton Blassingame, and Jenny Bradley; book designers Warren Chappell and W. A. Dwiggins; scouts Grace Dadd, Harriet de Onis, Anthony Gishford, and Raymond Postgate; translators Robert Pick and Barbara Shelby; law firms Stern & Reubens and Weil, Gotschal & Manges; as well as general correspondents Lester Cappon, Bennett Cerf, Clifford Crist, Bernard DeVoto, Irving Dilliard, J. Manuel Espinosa, W. H. "Ping" Ferry, Joseph Henry Jackson, Elizabeth Janeway, Jacob K. Javits, Edith Lewis, Alfredo Machado, Katia Mann, Mauricio Nabuco, National Park Service, Wallace Pratt, James Reston, Holly Stevens, Aaron Sussman, Jose Vieitas, Edward Weeks, and Walter Muir Whitehill. Additionally, virtually every important domestic and foreign publisher, literary agency, and periodical published in the twentieth century has some correspondence in the collection.
Although the correspondence of Alfred A. and Blanche Knopf is concentrated in the series bearing their names, their letters are also scattered through the rest of the collection. Additionally, editors, salesmen, promoters, and other Knopf employees initiated correspondence. Names which recur throughout the collection as correspondents for the firm are Leon S. Anderson, Robert P. Armstrong, Gretchen Bloch, Angus Cameron, Henry C. Carlisle, Eleanor Carlucci, Clifford Crist, Charles Elliott, Eleanor French, Jane Becker Friedman, Thomas Gervasi, Lee Goerner, Robert Gottlieb, Ashbel Green, Patrick Gregory, Sidney Jacobs, Carol Janeway, Judith B. Jones, Alfred (Pat) Knopf, Jr., William A. Koshland, Seymour Lawrence, Harding (Pete) Lemay, Joseph C. Lesser, William T. Loverd, Thomas Lowry, Anne McCormick, Ellen McNeilly, Michael Magzis, Nancy Nicholas, Dan Okrent, Robert Pick, Stewart Richardson, Henry Robbins, Regina Ryan, Anthony M. Schulte, David I. Segal, Bernard W. Shir-cliff, John J. Simon, Bernard Smith, Harold Strauss, Philip Vaudrin, Sally Waitkins, Herbert Weinstock, and Sophie Wilkins.
The collection also registers the impact of Alfred and Blanche Knopf on the firm. Records about the founding of the firm and its early successes are best documented in the two series bearing their names, particularly in Alfred Knopf's files, because many early records were saved as research material for his unpublished memoir. The Knopfs' presence is felt throughout the collection; they corresponded with authors, monitored the publishing process, and often developed close personal relationships with their literary contacts. Alfred Knopf's outside interests in conservation, wine, Latin America, history, and music are well documented in his personal series; an examination of the firm's list, known for its quality books on those same subjects, reveals how closely the interests of the firm and the man were intertwined. Similarly, Blanche Knopf's love of France brought a number of important French writers to the firm, and her control of the European side of operations, up to her death in 1966, is revealed in numerous series. Very little personal information on the couple is present in the collection, however. Only a small cache of letters from their courtship and early marriage survives, and they are more revealing about the early days of the firm than the relationship between the two. Additionally, while Alfred Knopf's personal papers contain diaries, family papers, guest books, memoir drafts, personal correspondence and photographs, they focus more on his day-to-day activities rather than his private life and thoughts.
The collection also offers a history of the firm and twentieth century publishing in general, focusing especially on the post World War II period. While few records are present that document staff changes explicitly, information can be gleaned by a close examination of folders dating from the years of internal change. For example, the sale of the company to Random House in 1960 is documented in only two folders maintained in Alfred Knopf's personal files, but the firm sent out letters to most of their long-term contacts describing the sale, which are scattered elsewhere. Additionally, the travel folders found in most series, filled with itineraries, correspondence, and narrative reports, offer a time frame for new literary discoveries, including regions, writers, and contacts. The collection follows the rise (and sometimes fall) of authors published by the firm, as well as changing relationships with scouts, translators, readers, new talent, literary agencies, and other publishing houses.

Series Descriptions

Series I. General Correspondence, 1922-1971, bulk 1946-1966 (boxes 1-500)
This series consists of the central editorial files of the Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. company, dating primarily from 1946 to 1971. These files contain the correspondence for the day-to-day operations of the firm, including letters from foreign publishers seeking publication and translation rights, contacts with young writers, inquiries from aspiring authors, correspondence on legal matters such as copyright, letters from literary agents, and requests for information about writers. The General Correspondence series also contains correspondence between editors and Knopf authors, many files of which follow the creation of a book from the original idea, by either the author or editor, to its final publication. Taken as a whole, this series offers a comprehensive overview of the activities of the editorial offices.
The series is organized chronologically, and within each year alphabetically. While some correspondents have their own files, most are contained within files labelled by letter. In a few instances, correspondence from previous years has been brought forward by the firm for background information or to continue important dialogues (see the container list for datespans). Because of this arrangement, correspondence with the same person or organization will be scattered throughout the series. All of the correspondents in this series, which totals almost 35,000 names, can be found in the name index of this finding aid.
Correspondence within a folder has generally been filed in reverse chronological order. Materials not in this order were stapled or clipped together by the company and are now held together with paper sleeves. The series generally contains the original correspondent's letter and the carbon copy of the response by the Knopf Company. The firm encouraged a standardized letter form, so much of the correspondence follows a similar pattern. Although the files have been refoldered for preservation purposes, the original title of the folder has been transcribed as the last entry on the new folder -- for example, on a label reading 56.4 Knopf-Gen. Corr.-1947-Gaa-Gat, the original folder was labelled Gaa-Gat.
Knopf employees contributing to this series include both Alfred A. and Blanche Knopf as well as other editors and regular staff. Documents from the late 1940s are generally marked with letter stamps such as "A" for Alfred or "B" for Blanche which designate the correspondent's primary contact with the firm. The color of carbon copies can reveal the creator of the letter -- Alfred A. Knopf's were blue, Blanche Knopf's yellow, Alfred "Pat" Knopf, Jr.'s pink, and green for Vintage editor Thomas Lowry. Other editors used white carbons, but can be identified by initials in the lower left hand corner of the page.
Although Alfred Knopf founded the firm in 1915, several moves by the company, coupled with a need to clear out older files, led to the destruction of the older general correspondence in 1945. (Some of the early files were saved and renamed Author Files, found in series IV.) As a result, the General Correspondence series begins in 1946. While folder 1.1 consists of some early editorial correspondence that was received by the Ransom Center over a period of time, the bulk of the collection starts with file 1.2. The files from 1946 to 1966 are nearly complete; each year consists of between 10 and 35 document boxes, with an average of 22 boxes. The files from 1967 to 1971 are less complete, perhaps reflecting the firm's increasing reliance on the Editors' Files (series V). Further, the following parts of the series are lost: 1946, A-Cq, Pm-Sz; 1947, Coj-Hoq, Mu-Sj; 1948, A-C (except Paul Bragg and Jimmy Cannon); 1949, Gor-Hal; 1951, Cl-Gn; 1954, P-Ster; 1955, Mi-Schl; 1963, A-Bh (except Horace Albright); and 1966, Scq-Sd.
Much of the collection consists of single exchanges with persons or organizations, such as requests for foreign publication rights, fan mail, and letters from aspiring authors. However, the main strength of the series derives from the individual files devoted to writers published by Knopf. These files typically reveal the writer's first connection with the company, which might have occurred when the firm contacted the writer expressing their interest in her or his work, or when the author submitted a manuscript. Some of the files contain correspondence with the literary agent or scout who first made contact with the writer. Files follow the correspondence between the editor and writer, revealing the relationship between the two as the manuscript progressed, continued once the book was published, and showed how the book was received and how well it sold. Especially interesting is the way the files reveal how an editor would guide the creative process, as she or he suggested changes, additions, or deletions. For example, in James Baldwin's Go Tell it on the Mountain (1953), editor Philip Vaudrin proposed important changes in the text because of fears that the book would be censored (see file 121.3). Many of these files also contain internal notes written by company employees, updating information and giving editors' personal opinions, and may be marked "form sent" or "yes" to show how the company responded to a particular request. Because the Knopf firm fostered a sense of closeness and loyalty with writers, authors like John Hersey, John Updike, and Robert Nathan chose to publish exclusively with the company, and developed friendships with their editors and sometimes Alfred and Blanche Knopf themselves.
The Knopfs' contact with writers is only one facet of their many close relationships with other significant persons in the literary world. The company had ties to the European, Asian, and Latin American literary communities, and correspondence with agents and foreign publishers reveals information both about the firm and its writers. Researchers interested in a particular writer should also examine the folders of the writer's agent and foreign publishers for insight into works in progress and information about her or his personal life and activities; the files often contain frank appraisals of the writer and their work. Although the correspondence with agents and foreign publishers is largely business related, some significant friendships developed over time. For example, Blanche Knopf became very close to Jenny Bradley, head of the William Aspenwall Bradley literary agency. As a result, their correspondence contains information about business as well as personal information about the two women.
Other long term contacts offering valuable information for researchers include extensive correspondence with company printers (Kingsport Press), lawyers (Stern and Reubens, Weil Gotschal and Manges), and advertisers (Sussman and Sugar). Further, correspondence with scouts such as Clifford Crist, Anthony Gishford, and Ben Ray Redman reveals the network of contacts used by companies like Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. to find new writers.
Just as the firm maintained long term contacts with agencies outside Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., it also fostered loyalty within the ranks. In particular, the editorial department was marked by a spirit of independence and initiative, allowing each editor to follow her or his own interests and with great freedom to explore (a practice which continues to this day). The correspondence within this series reflects the wide range of interests of Knopf editors. The firm's pioneering interest in Asian literature, which led to the first American publication of Japanese writers such as Yukio Mishima, largely derived from the interest of editor-in-chief Harold Strauss. In most cases, therefore, his signature can be found on most correspondence with Japanese writers, agents and publishers. Other editors covered other topics -- for example, Angus Cameron helped publish a number of leading works on environmental issues in the 1960s, Herbert Weinstock contributed to the publication of books on music, and Judith Jones edited a number of well-received cookbooks. While Alfred and Blanche Knopf supported this editorial freedom, they brought their own interests to the imprint as well. For example, Alfred Knopf's interest in natural history and Latin America expanded the firm's list. Further, his close relationship with the American academic community led to the firm's excellent reputation as a publisher of history. These scholars were called upon regularly to offer criticism of new books or writers and to make suggestions for new topics.
While the vast majority of the files contain correspondence only, some files relate to the inner workings of the firm. These are labelled by department or, more often, by employee name; the most significant are for Blanche and Alfred Knopf, and can be found in most years. The files rely on the heavy use of documentation in the form of internal memorandums that were sent from editors and employees of other departments to update the Knopfs on current activities. Folders titled with the name of a trip taken by Alfred or Blanche Knopf in a specific year often include narrative descriptions of the visit, including detailed lists of publishers, scouts, literary agents, and writers with whom they met. Further, information about writers is also available in these folders. For example, internal memos about the rejection of John Knowles' A Separate Peace are in one of Blanche Knopf's European trip folders (see file 261.1). Other employee named files, like those of Secretary and later President William A. Koshland, give an overview of the firm's administrative history.
Series II. Alfred A. Knopf Personal, 1874-1984, bulk 1953-1984 (boxes 501-685)
This series consists of Alfred A. Knopf's personal files and papers, which were maintained at his office in New York City and at his home at Purchase, New York. It is made up of four subseries: A. Personal Correspondence, B. Office/Subject Files, C. Purchase Files, and D. Other Subjects and Interests. Sent to the Ransom Center over a period of years, the arrangement has been recreated from Knopf's personal file system, documented in folder 653.13, labeled "Files." Generally, the first two subseries consist of correspondence and subject files from Knopf's office, while the Purchase files were kept at his home and used for his memoirs. The last subseries consists of materials sent to the Ransom Center that were not originally present in either his office or home file systems.
These subseries must be used together to give the researcher an overall perspective of Knopf's life and achievements, since his personal and professional lives were tied so closely together. Further, because the files were created at different times and in different places, some overlap exists. For example, researchers interested in Knopf's relationship with the National Park Service will find files about conservation in all four subseries. Other subjects so scattered include travel, his publishing interests, author correspondence, and wine and food materials.
Consisting largely of correspondence, generally an original letter with a blue carbon of Knopf's response, the series also includes manuscript drafts, clippings, photographs, minutes, memoranda, diaries, programs, artwork, menus, awards, account books, slides, and other printed materials. While the date range of this series is very broad, the bulk of the files range from the 1950s to the 1980s. Only a very small number of items date from the nineteenth century, and they generally refer to Knopf family history.
All of these files were reviewed by Knopf before they were sent to The University of Texas. In some cases this is quite helpful, because Knopf made notes on the folder or added extra papers. For example, in Knopf's Office Files, on a folder titled "Americas Foundation Citation" (which gave Knopf an award in 1967), he wrote in part, "Sat on dais on Nixon's [whom Knopf detested] right. After shaking hands we did not exchange a word." However, it is also likely that he purged some materials at this time. Knopf was intensely private about his personal life, and did not save letters from his family and friends dealing with awkward issues. When his son Pat Knopf left the firm in 1959 to form Athenaeum, Knopf wrote his correspondents that he would give them the details in private, when they next met.
Scholars interested in Alfred Knopf's life should also examine the Ransom Center's Vertical Files, which include ephemeral printed materials collected by Knopf.
Subseries A. Personal Correspondence, 1895-1984, bulk 1950-1980 (boxes 501-562)
This subseries contains Alfred A. Knopf's personal correspondence. Although often created at his office, the bulk of this correspondence pertains to his personal interests, not matters of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. It has been divided into three sub-subseries: 1. Chronological Files, 2. Blanche Wolf Knopf correspondence, and 3. Manuscripts Removed from Books.
Sub-subseries 1. Chronological Files, 1911-1984, bulk 1958-1984 (boxes 501-560)
Although the chronological files, the largest sub-subseries, span the years 1911 to 1984, the bulk date from 1958 to 1984. Following Alfred Knopf's own arrangement, correspondence is filed by year and then alphabetized within each year. While a small number of correspondents have their own files, most are contained within files grouped by letter. A few files labeled by subject, generally referring to specific events, can also be found. Occasionally a large amount of correspondence with an individual was pulled together by earlier Ransom Center catalogers; this arrangement has been maintained to make the correspondence easier for the researcher to read in its entirety, and is filed under the latest year of the correspondence.
The personal correspondence dating from 1911-1957 came to the Ransom Center at different times, and has been arranged chronologically. This early correspondence contains some of Knopf's earliest literary contacts, such as letters with Kay Boyle, Joseph Conrad, Clarence Day, Theodore Dreiser, W. A. Dwiggins, Joseph Hergesheimer, Vachel Lindsay, and others. Also present are the beginnings of what would become life-long literary friendships with such notables as Warren Chappell, Felix Frankfurter, and Carl Van Vechten. In addition, these early folders contain fragments of Knopf's editorial correspondence from the late 1910s and the 1920s. Since this correspondence is incomplete (consisting of only slightly more than two document boxes), most folders in these boxes contain multiple years (e.g., box 502.4 contains the years 1941-1945). In these cases, all the correspondence in that folder has been alphabetized for ease of use.
A 26-year span of these files, dating from 1958 to 1984, was donated as a group. Within the rest of the chronological files is the bulk of Alfred A. Knopf's personal correspondence from 1958 to his death. His interest in such subjects as conservation, politics, Latin America, the American West, and fine wine is well documented. He was a voluminous letter writer, who sought out advice from noteworthy people and never hesitated to venture his own opinions on the topic at hand.
A strength of this sub-subseries lies in its correspondence with authors. Since Knopf's life was so interconnected with the firm he founded, many of his authors became friends as well. For example, Knopf's personal interest in the fields of history, sociology, and science led to close friendships in the academic community with such noted historians as Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., and Samuel Eliot Morison. Further, authors like Jorge Amado and John Hersey, whose correspondence is scattered throughout this sub-subseries, corresponded with Knopf on both a personal and professional basis. Although much of this correspondence is routine, it nonetheless reveals the respect with which Knopf treated his authors and their strong loyalty to him. A good example of the way business and friendship overlapped for Knopf can be taken from the publication of John Hersey's White Lotus in 1965. After a particularly savage review by Time, Knopf wrote Hersey a consoling letter, emphasizing that neither Hersey's literary reputation nor his sales would be hurt by the review (see file 517.4).
In addition, Knopf enjoyed corresponding with political figures, never hesitating to offer his suggestions or to critique his correspondent's recent performances, as letters to Senators Jacob Javits, Irving Ives, and many others attest. A prominent Republican until Watergate, Knopf refused to accept form responses from the legislators he knew, and often drew them into lengthy discourses by mail.
Other files of interest in this subseries are Knopf's extensive travel files, which contain correspondence, schedules, and often narrative accounts written by Knopf detailing his visit. In addition there are 25 folders of condolence letters, written in 1966 on the occasion of Blanche Knopf's death. Knopf used extracts of some of these letters when he dedicated a Borzoi Quarterly to his late wife. Other correspondence chronicles Knopf's interest in Latin America, attested to not only by his exchanges with great writers, translators, and publishers, but also by his many contacts within the diplomatic community, especially in Brazil. His contacts with other connoisseurs of fine food and wine, and his letters to the pioneers of the environmental movement are also represented.
Finally, there are many letters of complaint to hotels, restaurants, and stores that failed to meet Alfred Knopf's high standards. Most of the letters complain of inferior service that Knopf believed he received. These letters grew increasingly frequent and more severe as he aged. A particularly extensive file covers a six year long conflict with the Eastman Kodak Company over a roll of lost film (see file 503.13).
Sub-subseries 2. Blanche Wolf Knopf, 1912-1923 (box 561)
A smaller group of files (5 folders) contains letters from Knopf's fiancée and wife, Blanche Wolf Knopf. Arrangement is chronological, with one file of undated letters. Dating from the earliest years of their relationship, the letters begin with short, slightly formal notes of thanks or replies to date requests and become increasingly warm and loving as time progresses. Blanche eventually begins to use nicknames in the letters, referring to Alfred as "Reuben" or "Monkey" and signing herself as "VV."
By the late 1910s and early 1920s, most of the letters were sent to Knopf while he traveled on business, and in many of them Blanche mentions the daily business of the new firm. This correspondence reveals how closely the two worked together in the early years of the firm.
Sub-subseries 3. Manuscripts Removed from Books, 1895-1983, bulk 1950-1980 (boxes 561-562)
The last sub-subseries consists of manuscripts removed from books in Alfred A. Knopf's personal library. They are arranged by the call number of the book from which the letter was removed. Although the sub-subseries has a broad date range, most of the letters date from the 1950s to 1970s. The vast majority of this correspondence arrived with the book, originating from its author or publisher. The letters are generally very short, recommending the book to Knopf. Some of these letters are paired with Knopf's reply on his signature blue carbon paper. Some books that were published by Knopf contain internal memoranda referring in some way to the publication of that book. In a few cases, the correspondence is quite revealing. For example, Philip Unwin's book The Publishing Unwins (call number CS 439 U55 1972) arrived with a letter from Unwin detailing the events in his life since the publication of his book. In another book, Francis Parkman by Mason Wade (call number E 175.5 P28), a letter from Bernard DeVoto describes how Knopf can find much more information about western routes than are offered in the book. Name access is provided in the index of correspondents.
Subseries B. Office/Subject Files, 1894-1979, bulk 1940-1965 (boxes 563-595)
These files, arranged alphabetically by subject, were originally maintained in Alfred Knopf's office. The range of subjects covered is extremely broad, representing Knopf's work in the publishing industry as well as his personal interests. Although the files span over 80 years, the bulk of the files date from the 1940s through the early 1960s. All files under the letter "D" were not found. In many cases a carbon copy of Knopf's correspondence was filed both chronologically in his correspondence files and also by subject.
The contents of these files vary enormously. While a very few contain only clippings, most have a wide range of materials, including correspondence, reports, flyers, and clippings. For example, a file labeled "Advertising" (see file 563.2) includes letters of complaint from Knopf to the New York Times regarding their advertising policies, general clippings about advertising, clippings of Knopf advertisements, and a chapbook detailing the history of advertising in the Knopf firm.
A strength of this subseries derives from the files related to the functioning of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. With correspondence, memoranda, internal reports, and staff records, these files offer a view of the inner workings of the company and Knopf's management style. Since the Ransom Center's holdings of General Correspondence files begins in 1946, the collection as a whole is augmented by the files in this subseries dating from the 1920s through the early 1940s. For example, correspondence and paperwork related to the purchase of the William Penn backlist in 1943 is located here. Other company related folders of significance include a file of correspondence with editor Angus Cameron, offering candid appraisals of writers and books, and Knopf's folders of memoranda to and from his staff from 1956 to 1977. While most of these files are labeled clearly, a few ambiguous labels do not show that they relate solely to the firm. The folder titled "Awards & Fellowships" contains flyers for literary contests Knopf ran in the early 1940s to attract authors.
Another topic found frequently in this subseries relates to the publishing world and books in general. There are files on other publishing companies, and others devoted to issues and trends in the industry over a period of fifty years. A series of folders also devoted to typography reflects the interest of a publisher known for his fine book design.
The large number of files containing reports, correspondence, and minutes from the publishing groups, charitable boards, committees, and social clubs to which Knopf belonged attests to his reputation in the literary, business, and philanthropic worlds. While his membership in such literary organizations as the American Book Publishers Council, the Book Table, and the International Publishers Association is not surprising, Knopf's range of interests outside publishing is remarkable. This subseries includes files from social clubs (Cosmos and Harmonie Clubs), historical associations (Institute of Early American History and Culture, the Massachusetts Historical Society), charitable groups (Arthritis Foundation, Arthur Farmer Memorial Fund), and fine wine and food societies (Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs, Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin).
Knopf's most consuming outside interest, and one that takes up nearly one quarter of this subseries, was the natural environment. Most of the files on this subject are arranged under the titles "Conservation" and "National Park Service," but they are also scattered elsewhere throughout the subseries. These files contain correspondence, clippings, news releases, bulletins, reports of nature societies, legislative materials, and board meeting minutes and reports (from organizations such as the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society, on whose Board of Trustees Knopf served for many years). Further, Knopf's close association with the United States National Park Service is well documented. Over five document boxes of reports, minutes, and correspondence show his involvement with the organization, as a member of the advisory board and later chairman. A highlight from these files is Knopf's participation in the campaign to save the Dinosaur National Monument from 1950-57.
A small number of files in this subseries relate to Alfred A. Knopf personally. More travel files, covering daily activities, meetings, and impressions, can be found, including a report describing his first trip to Brazil (a country he would later visit regularly) in 1962. One folder of photographs contains early family portraits, and the papers relating to a few of Knopf's honorary doctorates can be found here. There are also files of papers he collected simply because the topic interested him, such as his files on censorship, civil rights, humor, and music.
These files are complemented by the Alphabetical Files (sub-subseries 4 of the Purchase Files subseries), which cover many of the same subjects for a later period, and that he kept at his home in Purchase to use in writing his memoir. However, it is very likely that Knopf also referred to these Office/Subject Files while he was writing his memoir.
Subseries C. Purchase Files, 1876-1985 (boxes 595-673)
These files were maintained at Knopf's home in Purchase, N.Y. As he grew older he retired to the country more often, and turned from running the company he founded to writing his memoir. The subseries is divided into five sub-subseries: 1. Memoir, 2. Diaries, 3. Interviews, 4. Alphabetical Files, and 5. Clippings and Reports. While the first two sub-subseries relate directly to his memoir, the other three served as reference sources for Knopf.
Sub-subseries 1. Memoirs, 1876-1985 (boxes 595-620)
  • a. Chronological Files, 1910-1983 (boxes 595-609)
  • b. Memoir Drafts, 1892-1982 (boxes 610-618)
  • c. Willa Cather, 1946-1985 (box 618)
  • d. H. L. Mencken, 1876-1981 (boxes 618-620)
The first sub-subseries of the Purchase Files pertains directly to the writing of Knopf's unpublished memoir. Fourteen boxes of Chronological Files contain correspondence, clippings, menus, programs, and other materials that Knopf gathered together and referred to as he was writing the narrative drafts. These files offer the most comprehensive survey of Knopf's life, especially his early years as a publisher. They consist of documents that date from the period about which he was writing and are augmented by contemporary lists, correspondence, and memoranda confirming dates, giving lists of books published, and offering reminders to Knopf of those years. A strength of these chronological files is the early letters he pulled from other sources, including files that were subsequently destroyed, or photocopied to keep in these files. The first file is labeled "1918 and Earlier" and each following year is represented by at least one folder, with the exception of 1968, for which no materials were found. Many of the later years he chronicled comprise more than one folder, and include correspondence that is duplicated in Knopf's personal correspondence files, a fact perhaps explainable by the fact that he was writing the memoir at the same time he was corresponding. By 1978 the amount of materials he saved dwindles considerably and consists only of files devoted to theater and music programs and to obituaries of his contemporaries. While not strong on personal materials, these later files do offer a comprehensive overview of the events Knopf considered important in his life.
The next group in the Memoirs sub-subseries contains Knopf's multiple memoir drafts, which testify to the amount of work and revision he did. There are numerous drafts, the majority of which are incomplete. For ease of access, one complete draft can be found at the beginning of the subseries, from box 610.1 to 614.6, and the following incomplete drafts have been arranged numerically, with Knopf's general notes and handwritten drafts placed at the very end. In a very few cases, the drafts themselves contain correspondence, programs, or clippings to which he referred in the text.
Besides drafting his memoir, Knopf wrote about the memorable friendships he made as a publisher. Two such accounts are found in the Memoirs sub-subseries. One folder, 618.5, contains manuscript drafts recounting his relationship with Willa Cather, bolstered by copies of their correspondence and associated clippings. An additional twenty folders chronicle Knopf's close friendship and professional association with H. L. Mencken. The Mencken files can be broken down into two parts -- manuscript drafts and reference material. Seven files of drafts, interspersed with copied letters, reveal his relationship with Mencken in narrative form. The other files include correspondence with Mencken and other Mencken scholars (such as Betty Adler of the Enoch Pratt Free Library), as well as personal notes, clippings, and photographs. Of particular interest is the file labeled "Bawdy Humor/Anti-Semitism" where Knopf, himself Jewish, refutes charges of Mencken's anti-Semitism. For further information on Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. and Mencken's American Mercury magazine, see series IX.
Sub-subseries 2. Diaries, 1919-1984 (boxes 621-647)
A large collection (23 document boxes) of Knopf's diaries and appointment books makes up the second sub-subseries in the Knopf Personal series. Arranged chronologically and dating from 1919 to the year of his death, the diaries detail Knopf's day-to-day activities. The earliest diaries are sporadic, and lack the years 1920-1922, 1926-1929, and 1933. They tend to be filled with narrative descriptions of his activities and observations. Only in a few cases do the diaries contain his frank opinions and personal feelings. A typical extract reads as follows:
"November 28, 1923: Stopped at Willa Cather's today for a little to see the portrait Bakst just painted of her for the Omaha Public Library. It was pretty bad -- not a likeness -- & makes her look very melancholy, wch I've never yet seen her. She was charming & delightful & quite at home again. She said she really thought the reason why she couldn't work at Villa d'Orsay was that the people around weren't themselves working but rather waiting to see her work. She has nothing ready or in process but is just ready to start a book & when it will be finished she hasn't an idea" (see file 621.2).
By 1940, however, Knopf began keeping two appointment calendars and a pocket calendar -- these were less personal, with an emphasis on his meeting schedules and daily observations of the weather. The pocket calendars are filed separately from the other diaries and appointment books, due to special housing needs. As in other series, his travel diaries, covering his visits to Brazil, Europe, and the American West, offer useful insights into his literary contacts and friendships.
Sub-subseries 3. Interviews, 1964-1978 (box 643)
Knopf maintained only one file of transcripts from interviews he granted in the later years of his life. Other publicity can be found throughout this series.
Sub-subseries 4. Alphabetical Files, 1897-1984 (boxes 648-669)
These Alphabetical Files complement the Office/Subject Files in subseries B. Although their date range is broader and runs slightly later, they are arranged alphabetically by subject, and generally contain the same types of materials. There is a great deal of overlap between these files and the Office Files, e.g., both include files on the environment, typography, food and wine, and politics. In addition, however, the Alphabetical Files contain a number of folders pulled from the firm. Of particular interest are the author files that Knopf saved to use for his memoir. Early editorial correspondence with writers such as Conrad Aiken, Thomas Beer, W. H. Hudson, and Ernest Newman is in this subseries. Also of interest is the file titled "Editorial Mistakes" (see file 656.6), which consists of the firm's documention and reader's reports on important books rejected by Knopf, including William Golding's Lord of the Flies, John Knowles' A Separate Peace, Nabokov's Lolita, and manuscripts by Mary Renault. This sub-subseries is also particularly strong in personal files, offering account books and records relating to dogs and cemetery plots. Also, a large file of family material, gathered by a biographer of Knopf, reveals information about his background. Finally, later files contain only clippings, illustrating Knopf's gradual withdrawal from activity as he aged.
Sub-subseries 5. Clippings and Reports, 1931-1984 (boxes 669-673)
The last sub-subseries consists of almost four boxes of printed materials saved by Knopf. The sub-subseries is organized by letters of the alphabet, so a large range of subjects is covered in each file. They offer little insight into Knopf's life but further reflect his general interests in Latin America, conservation, politics, music, and universities. Although dominated by newspaper and magazine clippings, there are also reprints, programs, invitations, newsletters, and other printed items present.
Subseries D. Other Subjects and Interests, 1874-1985, boxes 673-685
Within this subseries are files and other loose materials that Knopf saved and donated to the Ransom Center but that were not a part of any existing file system. The range of materials found is very broad and although some of the materials are ephemeral in nature, such as a large collection of clippings about people and publishing, many of the files contain books and papers that reflect the interests in Knopf's daily life. Arranged alphabetically by subject or type of material, this subseries is the only one to contain a large number of non-textual materials. In addition to artwork, photographs, and portraits, a small collection of films (including "A Publisher is Known by the Company He Keeps"), dictaphone recordings, and phonograph records are present.
Many files relate directly to Knopf's home at Purchase and reflect his interest in fine dining. For example, within a large collection of wine and food related material, one finds Alfred Knopf's cellar books, which list in detail the wines kept and drunk at his home, and a notebook describing the meals at his house from 1940-51. An additional four folders of wine labels, most with dates and annotations on the back, confirm his passion for good wine. Other materials relating to his home in Purchase include guest books, gardening books, and an inventory of his library.
This subseries also features financial and personal documentation, such as account books, covering such expenses as home costs, investments, daily expenditures, club dues, and taxes, over a 40-year period. A file of personal documentation contains his draft records, ration cards, and driver's license. There is material relating to family members Samuel, Blanche, and Helen Knopf, as well as a folder of early internal documents from the firm. This subseries also contains the many awards and honors given to Knopf over his lifetime.
Finally, a number of folders contain writings by Knopf, dating from 1914 to 1984. While mainly consisting of articles, there are also personal tributes, a run of the Borzoi Quarterly, and a poem written for Blanche Knopf while they were courting. Additionally, a folder of material written by others and given to Knopf includes manuscripts by John Galsworthy, William Humphrey, Haldane Macfall, Thomas Mann, Rudolf Sauter, and H. M. Tomlinson.
Pieces of art, slides, personal effects, and printed ephemera that belonged to Alfred Knopf are held separately from the archive and can be accessed respectively in the Ransom Center's Art Collection, Photography Collection, Personal Effects Collection, and Vertical File Collection.
Series III. Blanche W. Knopf, 1918-1966, bulk 1940-1966 (boxes 685-697)
This series consists of 12 boxes of Blanche W. Knopf's correspondence files. It is arranged alphabetically by correspondent, and chronologically within each file, with the most recent dates at the front. The files arrived roughly in alphabetical order, and a file folder list created by Knopf secretary Eleanor French confirmed this order. Mrs. Knopf's files arrived at the Ransom Center in March, 1969, and were restricted until 1980, when Alfred Knopf authorized full access to them. In addition to correspondence, the files contain telegrams, photographs, prints, programs, and clippings. This series illuminates the unique perspective of not only a founding member and key administrator of the Knopf firm, but that of the first important American woman in publishing. While it is a relatively small series, it highlights the most important authors of this collection, and also covers routine publishing business such as copyediting, payment of royalties and advances, syndication and reprint rights, production costs, and sales figures.
Handwritten and typed letters between Alfred and Blanche Knopf that reveal their working relationship can be found throughout the series, and especially in the file named "BWK" (see file 686.8). The Knopfs wrote many letters to each other when one or the other was traveling. In this correspondence, they convey their opinions of various manuscripts, make plans for future business travel, and divide the responsibility of contacting authors to solicit their work. There are occasional personal remarks, such as Blanche Knopf's 1962 letters suggesting that she did not feel "whole," and feared she would not live much longer. Additionally, correspondence regarding important events such as the Knopfs' fiftieth wedding anniversary celebration (see file 690.4), Mrs. Knopf's induction into the French Legion of Honor (see file 690.7), and the honorary Doctorate of Letters she received from Franklin and Marshall College (see file 690.8) is located in this series.
Although Mrs. Knopf read and selected from manuscripts from many sources, one of her most passionate interests lay in French literature. She brought Albert Camus, Andre Gide, Jules Romains, and Jean-Paul Sartre to the firm. Her correspondence with Camus is especially rich, beginning when French literary agent Jenny Bradley recommended The Stranger to Blanche in 1945 and ending with letters written shortly before his death in 1960, discussing his work on Le Premier Homme. Correspondence with Camus translators Justin O'Brien and Anthony Bower also reveal the care Mrs. Knopf and the firm took in publishing high quality English versions of foreign texts.
Other correspondents in this series represent a rich and varied group of writers, many of whom were also Mrs. Knopf's friends. They include Elizabeth Bowen, Willa Cather, Raymond Chandler, Miguel Covarrubias, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Kahlil Gibran, Langston Hughes, Thomas Mann, and Angela Thirkell, among others. Business issues such as production schedules are frequently mixed in with invitations to dinners, illustrating how the Knopfs' business and personal lives were often intertwined. The letters also demonstrate important authors' feelings about the firm. In a 1923 letter, Willa Cather describes how she likes the Knopfs' style, and that she thinks they would work well together (see file 689.2). Raymond Chandler writes in 1942 that he can't understand the vigorous support his The High Window is receiving from the firm, in light of its poor sales (see file 689.5).
Mrs. Knopf's correspondence with an individual writer discussed not only his or her own work, but that of other writers, as well. Carl Van Vechten, a close friend of the Knopfs, wrote to Blanche about the need for writing and publishing "on the Negro question." He suggested Langston Hughes, Walter White, and Richard Wright, among others, for this much needed project (see file 697.1). Correspondence with Raymond Postgate is especially valuable for its detailed descriptions of publishing in the context of World War II Europe. Mrs. Knopf also encouraged experts in their fields to write specific books and helped authors choose appropriate book titles.
Documentation of some of Blanche's European and South American trips is located in files named "Trips" (see files 696.7-12), which are broken down by destination. The files include lists of people Mrs. Knopf visited or intended to visit, correspondence about the writers, and occasional personal reflections on the trip. Also, an unpublished article written by Mrs. Knopf on book publishing in Europe and South America provides insight into her publishing philosophy (see file 695.4). In it, she describes how the paper shortages and censorship of World War II created a hunger for exchange of ideas through publication that Americans probably could not understand. In the same file, there is 1945-1946 correspondence regarding Mrs. Knopf's trip to occupied Germany in search of authors. Her travels on behalf of the firm not only brought in a rich variety of writers, but often cemented personal relationships with authors, literary agents, artists, ambassadors, and other influential people.
Series IV. Author and Book Designer Files, 1911-1979, bulk 1920-1960 (boxes 698-734)
This series is one of the highlights of the Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. archive and one of the few that documents the early history of the firm. Consisting of 37 document boxes, the series contains correspondence, manuscripts, and artwork. It is divided into two subseries: A) Author Files and B) Book Designer Files. Although it is unclear why the files in this series were brought together, it is likely that Alfred A. Knopf pulled them from various sources and examined them, perhaps with his memoir in mind, before sending them to The University of Texas. Evidence of this derives from his handwritten annotations on the folders of some of these files. These annotations are useful because Knopf wrote about his professional associations and personal contacts with the author.
Subseries A. Author Files, 1911-1979, bulk 1921-1956 (boxes 698-731)
The Author Files, which make up the bulk of this series (33 boxes), contain a broad assortment of files relating to authors, most of whom were published by Knopf. Arranged alphabetically by author, the subseries contains early editorial correspondence, manuscripts, and artwork pertaining generally to firm business. While the files typically contain correspondence with Alfred A. Knopf, other employees whose letters are present in this subseries are Blanche Knopf, William A. Koshland, Raymond Preston, and Harold Strauss.
The majority of this subseries consists of early editorial correspondence. While most of the firm's earliest files were weeded in the mid-1940s, some were saved because of their apparent historic value. A 1974 memorandum from Lilyan Brown to Joseph Lesser documents the destruction. She wrote,
I arrived at AAK, Inc. in 1943. A few years later I was told Florence Rubin ... was having old cartons of correspondence sent from KMV [a storage facility] to her home and was destroying all correspondence which she thought was unnecessary and then returned the cartons to KMV. I was also told that Pat Knopf went down to KMV and was going through cartons of old correspondence and destroying what he thought was useless (see file 540.3).
It is likely that the early correspondence files found in this subseries were the ones saved by Alfred A. Knopf, Jr. Additionally, folders removed from the General Correspondence files, probably for Alfred Knopf's perusal, were added to these early files.
The Author Files are most complete for the 1920s and 1930s. Most files contain correspondence with an author pertaining to a book published by the firm. Covering Knopf's "golden age" of publishing, authors of note include W. J. Cash, A. E. Coppard, Warwick Deeping, Havelock Ellis, Erna Fergusson, Emma Goldman, Dashiell Hammett, William Alexander Percy, and Angela Thirkell. Besides fiction, the subseries documents Knopf's commitment to publishing historical, medical, and sociological texts. While most correspondents are represented by a single file, some long-term Knopf authors, such as James M. Cain, Joseph Hergesheimer, John Hersey, and Carl Van Vechten, have two or more. These multiple files reveal the personal relationship that often developed between an editor and author.
Other correspondents of note in this subseries are not authors but scouts and agents who helped the firm locate new talent in England and Europe. Of particular interest are the files of the William Aspenwall Bradley Agency and the Raymond Postgate correspondence. William and Jenny Bradley introduced some of the finest French writers, including Albert Camus and Andre Gide, to the Knopfs. Jenny Bradley's correspondence with Blanche Knopf reveals interesting information about the French literary scene as well as personal information. Raymond Postgate, a long-term scout in England, kept abreast of English and European writers and sent long and detailed letters to Alfred Knopf dating from the 1930s through the 1960s. He described new books being published in England, often adding his frank observations of leading publishers, agents, and writers. Postgate's descriptions of World War II are especially interesting, as he updated Knopf with the latest information on how the war was changing the literary landscape. For example, in a letter of June 20, 1940, Postgate wrote,
Another piece of information. Sigrid Undset escaped from Norway safely. I understand she went from Lillehammer to Elverum and thence to Stockholm. I found by enquiries at the Ministry of Information that a proposal was being made to her to write a short book about the invasion of Norway (see file 724.11).
Other files do not necessarily contain correspondence with an author. For example, neither the multiple files of Willa Cather, Andre Gide, or Kahlil Gibran offer much correspondence with the author; their files mostly concern later editions of their work and translations.
While a few files have only small bits of manuscript materials (usually comprising a few pages of heavily edited typescript), others offer more complete works. Authors with significant manuscript holdings in this subseries are Robert G. Athearn, Max Beerbohm, Robert Bowen, Albert Camus, Henry Steele Commager, Joseph Conrad, Walter De la Mare, Gilberto Freyre, John Galsworthy, Knut Hamsun, Llewellyn Jones, D. H. Lawrence, Yukio Mishima, Mauricio Nabuco, and Carl Van Vechten.
A few files contain illustrative materials. Robert Boyer's files contain photographic materials for his biography of John Brown. Both Elizabeth Langasser and William Pene Dubois' files contain artwork. Additionally, Langasser's file includes a small amount of correspondence with the book designer George Salter.
Subseries B. Book Designer Files, 1927-1954 (boxes 731-734)
A second subseries (four document boxes) contains a collection of correspondence with four renowned book designers. The files of Elmer Adler, Claude Bragdon, and Bruce Rogers contain routine correspondence, generally about books they designed for Knopf. However, the bulk of the subseries consists of William A. Dwiggins' correspondence and book designs. Eleven folders of correspondence cover the years 1927-1954, and include Dwiggins' correspondence with Alfred Knopf and Sidney Jacobs. Another eleven folders of artwork contain notes, sample designs, binding samples, and mock-ups and sketches for books and dust jackets that Dwiggins designed for the firm.
Series V. Editors' Files, 1873-1984, bulk 1960-1980 (boxes 735-932)
This series contains the working files of seventeen Knopf editors. It is organized by editor into the following subseries: A--Angus Cameron, 1873-1984, bulk 1960-1978; B--Charles Elliott, 1908-1984, bulk 1971-1982; C--Lee Goerner, 1968-1980; D--Robert Gottlieb, 1949-1984; E--Ashbel Green, 1957-1984; F--Carol Brown Janeway, 1970-1983; G--Judith Jones, 1926-1980, bulk 1958-1977; H--William A. Koshland, 1935-1982, bulk 1967-1976; I--Michael Magzis, 1967-1976; J--Anne McCormick, 1966-1982; K--Nancy Nicholas, 1948-1984, bulk 1970-1980; L--Dan Okrent, 1949-1974, bulk 1967-1974; M--Regina Ryan, 1919-1976, bulk 1967-1974; N--Harold Strauss, 1950-1981, bulk 1966-1974; O--Herbert Weinstock, 1950-1971, bulk 1967-1971; P--Sophie Wilkins, 1927-1972, bulk 1969-1972; and Q--Vicky Wilson, 1967-1983. Although many of these subseries are incomplete, they document the range of books edited by these people.
The editorial files consist largely of correspondence, with both an incoming letter and carbon copy response from the editor, but they also contain internal forms and memoranda that follow both the internal and external processes of book publication (hereafter refered to as "internal documentation"). The presence of this internal paperwork distinguishes this series from the General Correspondence files. The editors' files contain the following: copyright documentation; correspondence from authors, agents, and foreign publishers; dust jackets; fan mail; galleys; internal notes and memoranda; jacket and flap copy drafts; manufacturing schedules and estimates; manuscript materials (mostly photocopied with some handwritten changes); negatives; newspaper clippings; photographs; profit statements; proof sheets; reader's reports; schedules; slides; transparencies; and internal forms such as author questionnaires, book club date forms, contract data sheets, contract proposals, contract Summaries, editorial Fact Sheets, manuscript records, manuscript transmittal data sheets, planning cards (for production, sales, and advertising), production & sales planning cards, publishing proposals, and publishing summary forms.
Each subseries contains alphabetically arranged files for the authors with whom the editors worked. Some editors maintained miscellaneous letter files consisting of correspondence with writers, fans, and aspiring authors. The different filing systems used by each editor reveals their interests and their position at the firm. For example, the files of William A. Koshland, which differ markedly from the rest of the editors' files, reflect his position as administrator rather than hands-on editor. Some editors are also better represented than others; while Angus Cameron's files are almost complete, those of Michael Magzis and Anne McCormick contain only a few selected folders.
Although the total date range of the series is very broad, the preponderance of files spans the late 1960s through the early 1980s. Files with date spans prior to 1957 generally contain old contracts or correspondence that have been added for reference purposes. Subseries for editors Angus Cameron, Charles Elliott, Robert Gottlieb, Ashbel Green, and William Koshland have more than one alphabetical sequence, reflecting the way they retired their inactive files.
A long-term strength of the Knopf firm has been the expertise and interests of its editors. This publishing advantage is clearly revealed in this series, which covers books on hunting, nature and the environment, sailing, cooking, Japanese literature, music, European and American literature, photography, and many other subjects. Further, newer editors took over the files of retiring employees, thus directing established Knopf authors in new ways.
This series lacks some of the files of the current Knopf authors. Since some of these writers continue to be published by the firm, their files are still in use in New York. For example, although Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire was edited by Vicky Wilson, her file is not present.
Subseries A. Angus Cameron, 1873-1984, bulk 1960-1978 (boxes 735-787)
The Angus Cameron subseries comprises three alphabetical groupings, divided by year into 1960-1970, 1972-1977, and 1976-1982; the 53 document boxes span Cameron's years at the firm. Books present in this subseries cover the subjects of nature, hunting, politics, Western history, and the American experience.
While the first alphabetical group contains only named author files, the second and third also contain miscellaneous letter files. The named author files contain both correspondence and internal documentation. Of particular interest in these files are the notes Cameron made to himself on index cards as he was working with authors. Cameron's long-term associations with people in the literary world also stand out. Correspondents of note include Hal Borland, C. Gregory Crampton, Arnold Gingrich, William Goetzmann, Ben K. Green, Sterling Hayden, Rodello Hunter, Sigurd Olsen, Rachel Peden, and Andy Russell. The miscellaneous files contain routine correspondence with aspiring authors and prospective employees, usually rejected by Cameron. While most incoming letters have a carbon copy response from Cameron with them, in some cases it is necessary to check the back of the actual letter for his response.
The last alphabetical group contains fewer new authors, focusing on projects that began before 1976 and continued through the early 1980s. These files document Cameron's continuing role as editorial consultant after his retirement from the firm.
Subseries B. Charles Elliott, 1908-1984, bulk 1971-1982 (boxes 788-811)
Charles Elliott joined Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. as senior editor in 1973. His files, comprising 23 document boxes, consist of two sub-subseries, the first dating 1971-1978, and the second 1978-1984.
The first sub-subseries consists largely of correspondence with authors or their agents or foreign publishers. Topics include Asian literature, photography, botany, animals, health, and twentieth-century American history. Some of Elliott's files originally belonged to other editors; for example, he took responsibility for Asian books after Harold Strauss' retirement in 1974. As a result the files of Kobo Abe and Yukio Mishima can be found here. Elliott also edited Alistair Cooke.
Elliott's second sub-subseries of files contains less correspondence and consists largely of internal documentation. A few files contain only clippings. Additionally, some files are divided into two folders, the first labeled "Production" (internal paperwork and some correspondence) and the second titled "Publicity" (clippings and comments on the book). Elliott's work with other publishers is well documented here; for example, he edited a series of nature books with Chanticleer Press and a series of photography handbooks with Dorling Kindersley.
Subseries C. Lee Goerner, 1968-1980 (boxes 812-813)
Lee Goerner joined the firm in 1973 as the assistant to editor-in-chief Robert Gottlieb. Two document boxes of files document this relationship as well as Goerner's contacts with Angus Cameron. While not consisting of titles that Goerner himself edited, the files were maintained by him. Topics covered in these files include contemporary fiction, nature writing, and outdoor sports. A strength of this subseries is the presence of some author manuscripts, like those of David Rabe and Tim Mason Smith.
Subseries D. Robert Gottlieb, 1949-1984 (boxes 814-827)
Robert Gottlieb joined the firm in 1968 as editor-in-chief and vice-president, and was president of the firm from 1973-1987. These 14 document boxes reflect his work as an editor. They are divided into two alphabetical groups, the first dating 1968-1975 and the second 1976-1984.
Both sets of files contain internal documentation and correspondence with foreign publishers, with little, if any, actual correspondence with the author named on the folder. Gottlieb edited a number of important fiction writers such as Melvyn Bragg, Evan S. Connell, Diane Johnson, and Chaim Potok, and he also worked on biographies and books on dance. At least one file, that of Robert Nicolson, originally belonged to Blanche Knopf.
Subseries E. Ashbel Green, 1957-1984 (boxes 827-839)
Ashbel Green joined the firm in 1964 as managing editor and has served as vice-president and senior editor since 1973. His files are divided into two groups, reflecting his different job titles.
Approximately three document boxes comprise the first group of files in this subseries. Labeled "General Author Folders" and spanning the years 1965-1970, they primarily contain internal documentation relating to the publication of a book, with little, if any, correspondence. Subjects covered in these files include suspense fiction, Russian literature and history, and early American history. Since many of these files relate to long-term Knopf authors (e.g., James M. Cain, George Harmon Coxe, Laurence Gipson, and Richard Hofstadter) and new editions of older books, correspondence from Alfred A. Knopf is also present in some of these files.
The second group of files in this subseries, consisting of approximately ten document boxes, contains named author files with correspondence and internal documentation. Subjects covered include Russian history, American history, and suspense, with a small amount of nature writing and books on sailing. In addition, Green oversaw the publication of Latino literature and other ethnic studies in the late 1970s. Authors of note in this subseries are Fawn Brodie, John Graves, Roy Medvedev, Abram L. Sachar, and Thomas Sanchez.
Subseries F. Carol Brown Janeway, 1970-1983 (boxes 839-847)
Carol Brown Janeway joined the firm as editor and British rights manager in 1970. Robert Gottlieb referred to her as "our English editor." Approximately nine document boxes of named author files document her close ties to the British literary community as well her work as an editor of English and European writers.
These files contain mostly correspondence with a small amount of internal documentation. The largest amount of correspondence in these files is not with authors, but with European publishers. Subjects covered include English and European history, literature, and social history, opera, photography, and biographies.
Subseries G. Judith Jones, 1926-1980, bulk 1958-1977 (boxes 847-859)
Judith Jones joined the firm in 1957 as an editor, and was senior editor and Vice-President as of 1996. She is well-known for the works of fiction and the cookbooks she has edited.
The subseries comprises two types of files, arranged in one alphabetical sequence, one of which contains mainly internal documentation with little correspondence. These "general author files" date from the 1960s. Some of these files came from Blanche Knopf's office originally, as Jones worked closely with Mrs. Knopf. Of special interest in these files is the presence of some manuscript material; for example, the Elizabeth Bowen file contains a number of draft changes on her novel Eva Trout.
The other folders in this subseries span later dates, mostly the 1970s. They consist largely of correspondence with authors, foreign publishers, and agents. Very little internal documentation is available in these files. Authors of importance in this subseries include Elizabeth Bowen, M. F. K. Fisher, Shirley Ann Grau, Shelby Hearon, Margaret Laurence, Anne Tyler, and John Updike. Two document cases of files for John Updike follow his career in the late 1960s. Since some of this Updike correspondence came directly from the General Correspondence files, letters from Alfred and Blanche Knopf and William A. Koshland document Updike's close relationship with the firm. Other subjects covered by Jones besides fiction and cookbooks include poetry, European travel, and feminism.
Among the folders in this subseries not related to a specific author is a file titled Manuscript Rejections (which is filled with correspondence from aspiring authors) and a file for Ed Victor, a former Knopf editor (containing correspondence from publishers and agents). The last file in this subseries contains misfiled correspondence removed from Jones' files during processing. These have been included in the correspondents index.
Subseries H. William A. Koshland, 1935-1982, bulk 1967-1976 (boxes 859-898)
William A. Koshland has been with Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. since 1934. He succeeded Blanche Knopf as President of the firm in 1966 and later became Chairman of the Board. As of 1996, he was Chairman Emeritus.
The subseries has been separated into ten alphabetical sequences, grouped by year, covering the years 1967-1980. The files are divided into miscellaneous letter files, and the years 1967-1977 have named files as well. Letters A-M in the 1973-1974 group are not present. After 1977 the amount of correspondence in the files shrinks considerably. For example, the 1967 sequence consists of approximately seven document boxes while the 1980 sequence comprises only three folders.
Koshland's files are atypical from the other editorial files in this series. They resemble the General Correspondence files, and should be thought of as an extension of that series. His files focus on everyday activities at the firm and reflect his administrative position rather than actual editing responsibilities.
The miscellaneous letter folders document Koshland's day-to-day activities. Types of correspondence generally found in this subseries are requests from foreign publishers for Knopf book rights, initial contacts with authors, internal memos, and day-to-day correspondence with the public. Correspondence in many of these files documents that literary agents, scouts, and publishers sent manuscripts or proofs of books directly to Koshland, who assigned them to readers. If accepted, the books were placed with an editor; if not, Koshland sent a rejection letter found in this subseries. Unlike the rest of this series, William Koshland's files contain very little internal documentation.
The named files in this subseries do not consist solely of author names. In many cases the files consist of correspondence with foreign publishers or literary agents, e.g., Jenny Bradley, Eyre & Spottiswoode, and Grace Dadd. Generally these files contain information about foreign editions of Knopf titles, or express the firm's interest in new English and European writers.
Koshland's files containing correspondence with authors tend not to relate directly to the publication of a title, but to reflect more general administrative matters. For example, the firm's problems with the author Peter Gay are chronicled in this subseries. Also, the authors listed in this subseries, such as Elizabeth Bowen, John Hersey, Robert Nathan, and John Updike, generally have long-term contacts with the firm. Since some of these files originated in the General Correspondence series, correspondence with Alfred and Blanche Knopf is present in some of these files.
Many folders labeled with an author's name contain little if any actual correspondence with that author. Instead, they are likely to contain correspondence with other publishers interested in new editions, fan mail, or internal memoranda "for the record." Yet, these files sometimes contain extremely important material, such as reader's reports and sales information. For that reason, subject files in this subseries have been added to the correspondents index.
Subseries I. Michael Magzis, 1967-1976 (boxes 899-900)
The fact that Michael Magzis' files were scattered in other editors' files was brought to the attention of the cataloging staff by editor Ashbel Green. The Magzis files were pulled from other editors' files, resulting in a very small collection of eight folders. These files contain both correspondence and internal documentation, and cover the following subjects: psychology, mystery novels, biography, short fiction, and biology.
Subseries J. Anne McCormick, 1966-1982 (box 900)
This tiny subseries, containing only three folders, reflects a small part of the firm's contact with Brazilian authors. It consists of both correspondence and internal documentation for Jorge Amado, Moacir Lopes, and Pedro Nova. All three files document conflicts between Alfred A. Knopf and Robert Gottlieb over whether the writers' work should be published.
Subseries K. Nancy Nicholas, 1948-1984, bulk 1970-1980 (boxes 900-906)
Nancy Nicholas served as an editor at Knopf from 1967-1985, and these six document boxes of named author files focus on her achievements in the 1970s and early 1980s.
This subseries is particularly strong in the field of literature, as Nicholas edited important European and American writers such as Ray Bradbury, Margaret Drabble, Milan Kundera, and Marge Piercy, among others. Nicholas' correspondence with Kundera, dating from the period when his works were still being smuggled out of Czechoslovakia, is particularly revealing, since the two developed a close relationship through the mail. Also of note is a 1948 reader's report for Ray Bradbury, rejecting a collection of short stories (see file 900.9). Some of Nicholas' files originated in the offices of noted fiction editors Harold Strauss and Robert Gottlieb. Other topics of interest in Nicholas' files include art, linguistics and language studies, and French history. Nicholas also had close contacts with the French publishing world, and edited both fiction and non-fiction books originally published in France.
Subseries L. Dan Okrent, 1949-1974, bulk 1967-1974 (boxes 906-907)
Dan Okrent was an editor at Knopf from 1969-1973. The subseries contains only seven folders, all of which had a note from Okrent to Knopf employee Sally Waitkins stapled to the front asking her to handle them (these notes are now on top of each file). Okrent's area of expertise was non-fiction, and most of these folders contain materials on books chronicling the 1960s, from the sexual revolution to hippies to Vietnam.
Subseries M. Regina Ryan, 1919-1976, bulk 1967-1974 (boxes 907-914)
Over seven document boxes of files contain named and miscellaneous letter files maintained by editor Regina Ryan, who joined the firm as Herbert Weinstock's assistant in 1964 and served as editor from 1967-1975.
Most of the files in this subseries are labeled by author, and they contain correspondence as well as a small amount of internal documentation. Some have been subdivided into separate files denoted "correspondence," "editorial," "publicity," and other distinguishing titles. Of particular interest are Ryan's notes to herself about plot and character development. Some of the earlier files originated in Sidney Jacob's office.
This subseries is dominated by the many books Ryan edited on sailing and feminism. Other topics represented are American fiction, politics, architecture, crafts, environmental issues, and wine and cooking. In addition, Ryan served as long-term Knopf author Robert Nathan's editor in the early 1970s.
Other named files in this subseries derive from Ryan's travels around the country and detail the contacts she made there. Examples of these are files labeled California, Appalachia, Washington, D.C., and California.
A collection of miscellaneous letter files completes Ryan's files. These consist largely of rejection letters, written directly to either an aspiring author or agent. A negative reader's report may also be included. While the material in these files is generally routine, correspondence with noted author Rita Mae Brown, who despairs of finding a publisher for her lesbian novel, Rubyfruit Jungle (see file 907.7), is of particular interest.
Subseries N. Harold Strauss, 1950-1981, bulk 1966-1974 (boxes 914-917)
Harold Strauss joined Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. in 1939 as an associate editor. From 1942-1966 he was editor-in-chief, and acted as consulting editor from 1966-1974. This small collection of files (four document boxes) reflects Strauss' work in the late 1960s and early 1970s, leading up to his retirement in 1974.
The miscellaneous letter files make up the largest part of this subseries, consisting of correspondence with authors and literary agents, highlighted by internal memoranda. A small group of named files contains correspondence with authors and translators, as well as internal documentation relating to their books.
Both sets of files reflect Strauss' long-term interest in Japan and the Far East. A letter in this subseries from Strauss to Frederick Warburg relates how he became interested in Japanese literature (see file 916.4). Contacts with translators and Japanese publishers are found throughout this subseries. Of particular importance are the multiple folders for Yasunari Kawabata and Yukio Mishima. The Kawabata files contain paperwork relating to his novels Beauty and Sadness, The Master of Go, and The Sound of the Mountain. A file of correspondence with Kawabata and his translator, Edward Seidensticker, covers the period up to and beyond the author's suicide. The Mishima files also contain correspondence with the author and translator covering Mishima's death. An important letter from Strauss to Frederick Warburg (see file 916.3) reveals Strauss' memories of Mishima and his opinions on the author's suicide.
Subjects covered in addition to Japanese literature and society are United States history, government, and literature, as well as biology and anthropology. Other named files not related to specific authors include a file on Japan with lists of people and books of interest to Strauss. A folder titled Pink Cards contains trade publication proposal forms with additional paperwork for many of the books Strauss edited.
Subseries O. Herbert Weinstock, 1950-1971, bulk 1967-1971 (boxes 918-921)
Herbert Weinstock was executive editor at Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. from 1943-59 and a consulting editor from 1963-1971. His work for the firm from the late 1960s until his sudden death in 1971 is reflected in this subseries of four document boxes.
The subseries consists mainly of named folders with a smaller run of miscellaneous alphabetical files. Folders for the letter "D" are not present. The miscellaneous letter files contain correspondence with aspiring authors and agents, and internal memos regarding rejected manuscripts or books in progress. Contents of the named folders include correspondence and internal documentation. Some of these folders were divided by Weinstock between "correspondence" and "working" files, separating the letters from the internal paperwork.
As Weinstock himself was a highly regarded music writer, his list contains many illustrious names, including academics and European writers such as German Arciniegas, Pierre Boulez, Alejo Carpentier, Jacques Ellul, Irving Kolodin, and François Nourissier. Some files were originally Blanche Knopf's, particularly those of French writers, and passed to Weinstock after her death. Subjects covered include music, belles lettres, the arts, and history.
Subseries P. Sophie Wilkins, 1927-1972, bulk 1969-1972, (boxes 922-924)
Three document boxes of named and miscellaneous letter files document Sophie Wilkins' tenure at Knopf. About one-third of Wilkins' files are miscellaneous letter files, but they are far from complete. Files for the letters H, I, J, L, M, and N are not present. The miscellaneous letter files contain correspondence, mostly from aspiring authors, literary agents, and other literary contacts. The named author files also contain correspondence as well as internal paperwork and some manuscript material. Very little author correspondence exists; instead, there is usually correspondence with a book's translator and literary agent.
Both types of files in this subseries are generally geared toward translations of German authors. Topics covered include German fiction and non-fiction (especially sociology), contemporary politics, biography, and theater. Of particular interest are six Thomas Mann files, which cover the publication of Mann letters by Richard and Clara Winston. There are photocopies and typed copies of Mann letters in these files.
Wilkins also maintained contact with writers originally edited by Angus Cameron.
Subseries Q. Vicky Wilson, 1967-1983 (boxes 925-932)
Eight document boxes of correspondence contain Vicky Wilson's author files. Most have been divided by function into multiple files labeled Copy, Editorial, Legal, Permissions, Publicity, Production, and Reviews. As a result, Wilson's files fully document the production of a book. Of particular interest are her memoranda with Robert Gottlieb chronicling the progress of a manuscript. Although spanning three decades, the bulk of these files date from the mid-1970s.
Wilson edited books of American fiction, photography, film, folk arts and crafts, and art. The relationship she developed with some of her authors is well documented in this subseries. For example, her working relationship with Alice Adams became a close friendship in time.
Of particular interest in this subseries is a small Anne Rice file. It consists of a few items found misfiled in other authors' files that were brought together by the cataloger. In this folder a letter from Rice describes her plot development for Interview with the Vampire (1976) and includes a response from Wilson (see file 932.14).
Series VI. Editorial Department Files, 1930-1984, bulk 1948-1978 (boxes 933-1172)
This series consists of selected files maintained by the editorial offices of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. It is made up of six subseries: A. Contract Data Sheets, B. Foreign Rights, C. Manuscript Records, D. Reject Files, E. Rejection Sheets, and F. [Translations]. Containing internal forms and correspondence, the series highlights numerous aspects of the publishing process. Subseries D and E, which make up the bulk of the series (195 of 240 document boxes), relate to the rejection of incoming manuscripts. The other subseries are smaller and less complete, but they reveal financial information (subseries A), the initial interest in manuscripts later published by Knopf (subseries C), and the complicated process of translations and foreign publication (subseries B & F).
A strength of this series derives from the way the subseries complement each other. Both subseries C (Manuscript Records) and subseries E (Rejection Sheets) contain the "white sheet" form used by the firm for each manuscript submission. The forms in subseries C relate only to published manuscripts and subseries E is reserved for those rejected by the firm. Similarly, subseries D (Reject Files) and subseries E (Rejection Sheets) together offer two sides of the rejection process. The Reject Files contain the correspondence with the aspiring author or agent and the Reject Sheets reveal the firm's candid opinions of the quality of the manuscript. While incomplete and somewhat scattered, the series contains important records of the firm's treatment of new titles. If used in conjunction with other series, the entire publishing process can be observed.
Subseries A. Contract Data Sheets, 1948-1984, bulk 1948-1970 (boxes 933-936)
This subseries contains the internal forms, called contract data sheets, that consolidated an author's contract and sales record, highlighting rights, contract options, translations, and royalties. While these single sheets make up the bulk of the subseries, occasionally other forms such as reprint contract sheets, contract proposals, and internal memoranda have been attached for reference. Arranged alphabetically by author in general letter folders, the subseries covers the years 1949-1971 and the letters M-Z. The letters A-L are not present. A final folder, labelled "1984" (see file 936.3), contains forms from that year.
An August 29, 1984 letter from Eleanor Carlucci to HRC director Decherd Turner explains the importance of the contract data sheets to the firm:
The contract data sheets are interesting for many reasons. A file going back many years will show how advances, from paperback houses especially, soared astronomically a few years ago and are now settling down, how many new book clubs there are every year, what types of books are always of interest -- Hersey, Cain, Chandler, Undset -- and are constantly resold, either to the same publisher or to another, and what kind of books, old and new, are of interest to foreign publishers.
Subseries B. Foreign Rights, 1955-1983, bulk 1965-1976 (boxes 936-957)
The Foreign Rights files contain correspondence and internal forms relating to the publication of Knopf books in other countries. Arranged by year (1965-1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, and 1980-1981) and filed alphabetically by author, each file pertains to one author and one book.
Most of these files consist of correspondence (incoming letter and outgoing carbon copy) from foreign publishers asking Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., for the right to publish a particular title in their country. These letters of inquiry come from England, Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East, and the number of correspondents reveals the amount of international interest a title generated. While some folders contain letters from many different publishers, others follow the lengthy negotiation process for foreign rights between Knopf and a particular publisher. Other files pertain to joint publishing ventures, most often with English publishers. Also, a very few folders, such as those for Mrs. William A. Bradley (see file 936.19) and Grace Dadd (see file 937.12), contain correspondence with trusted literary agents who apprised the firm of new titles and writers from France and England.
Subseries C. Manuscript Records, 1930-1979, bulk 1941-1968 (boxes 957-963)
This subseries is made up of the internal forms called "white sheets" by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. These manuscript record forms were attached to every incoming manuscript, whether rejected or accepted, to document how the manuscript was received by the firm. The subseries has been arranged alphabetically by author's name, and pertains only to manuscripts accepted by the firm. The standard form included such information as the author's name, manuscript title and form (whether typescript, proofs, or sheets), original submission date, name of the person submitting it, contract information, a list of the manuscript's readers, and a space for remarks by those readers (often on the back of the form, although many have been expanded to multiple page narratives). Manuscripts were generally read by editors and professional readers, although academics were sometimes called in for non-fiction. Alfred and Blanche Knopf also examined some submissions. In a few cases the white sheets were attached to internal memoranda, correspondence, contract proposals or publishing summaries.
Although not extensive (slightly under 7 document boxes), the manuscript records offer a revealing look into the process of book acceptance. As each reader read and commented upon a manuscript, they wrote plot summaries, pointed out the strengths and weaknesses of the work, offered advice on possible audiences, and commented on their opinion of the author's talent. Because the manuscript records were entirely internal forms, the readers were often quite blunt. Ross Macdonald's manuscript "The Snatch" (published by Knopf as The Moving Target in 1949) elicited from reader E. Goodwin the following comment:
I can't see much reason to go on publishing Millar [MacDonald was Kenneth Millar's pseudonym]. His sales record - Blue City 4300, Three Roads 4200 - certainly is not impressive and I don't think the present offering could even be expected to do as well. It strikes me as being of a pot boiler level that only a writer with an established following - such as G. H. Coxe - could turn out and expect to get away with and Millar just isn't in that class... If Millar intends - and thinks he can - to write a serious story, why doesn't he get to it? But if he insists on writing mystery stories, then he has got to come down off his high horse and realize that second best effort, at least his, just isn't good enough. My impression is that he thinks the mystery story really beneath him and that over-weening conceit and pride keep him from realizing that even in this field a writer has got to work hard to get anywhere... (see file 961.1).
Readers' opinions could also be quite positive, and even prescient. For example, the form for John Updike's Rabbit, Run contains the following quote from a long narrative report by editor and reader Angus Cameron in 1960:
Pete Lemay has been urging me for some time to read the Updike novel..I can say one thing: for me it is the best novel of this generation of American novelists I have read...I think Harry Angstrom [the protagonist of Rabbit, Run] is destined to come into the language the way Babbitt did, or more recently as Holden Caulfield did (see file 963.5).
For prolific authors like George Harmon Coxe and Conrad Richter, numerous forms follow their literary careers over decades.
Subseries D. Reject Files, 1933-1968, bulk 1952-1968, (boxes 964-1115)
This largest subseries (151 document boxes) contains correspondence with rejected authors and/or their agents. The series is organized chronologically, with each year arranged alphabetically. In a few instances, correspondence from previous years has been brought forward for background information on manuscripts submitted previously (see the container list for datespans). A very few aspiring authors were assigned their own files; most are contained within files labeled by letter. Because of this arrangement, correspondence with the same person or agent is scattered throughout the series. Only two files cover the years 1944-51, whereas the years 1952-1968 are generally complete. These files are not present: 1953, A-K; 1966, Q-R, Tho-Y; and 1968, A-M.
The bulk of this subseries consists of single contacts with aspiring authors who were never published. This correspondence generally contains an introductory letter from the author (or sometimes an agent) describing her or his manuscript, with a carbon negative reply from the firm. In a few cases, the correspondence is longer, generally when the company expressed an early interest, but ultimately came to a decision against the work.
While most of this correspondence is routine, the subseries' chief importance derives from the known authors that Knopf rejected and the early appearance of authors who would later go on to prominence. Of particular interest is the appearance in this subseries of established Knopf authors such as Mildred Cram, Erna Fergusson, Yukio Mishima, and Elizabeth Taylor, showing that Knopf was reluctant to publish inferior works from even the best known of its list. Further, a heavy presence of European and Asian writers is found in this subseries. Offered through agents, these writers were known in their own countries but were not considered publishable in the United States. While not listed in the correspondence index, a selected list of important names from this subseries can be found in Appendix I.
Subseries E. Rejection Sheets, 1931-1983, bulk 1948-1974 (boxes 1116-1170)
This subseries consists of the manuscript "white sheet" forms for books rejected by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. The files are grouped by date range (1948-1959, 1960-1964, 1965-1969, and 1970-1974) and arranged alphabetically by author's name within each group. Like subseries C, the white rejection sheets are forms containing information on author's name, manuscript title and form (whether typescript, proofs or sheets), name of the person submitting it, a list of the manuscript's readers, and a space for comments on the work. A few forms are accompanied by correspondence (such as a letter of recommendation for the author), narrative manuscript abstracts, internal notes, and blue manuscript reader's forms. The letters C-H for 1970-1974 are not present.
Although this subseries complements subseries D, and can be used in conjunction with it, the rejection sheets only cover manuscripts that were actually submitted to the firm, unlike the Reject Files, which include correspondence with people sending plot synopses and proposing story ideas.
In a few cases, numerous submissions can be found under an author's name; this occurred when an author submitted a number of works that were rejected; some rejection sheets cover a long date span, as an aspiring author's manuscripts were rejected year after year. Important submissions can be found in these groupings; Walker Percy's heavily annotated white sheet for The Moviegoer (which was published by Knopf) has been attached to a rejection sheet for an unpublished manuscript titled Symbol and Existence: A Study in Meaning (see file 1159.3).
The reject sheets are also particularly interesting because a substantial minority of submitted manuscripts that were rejected by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. went on to be published elsewhere. A highlight of this subseries, as with the manuscript records, derives from the frank narrative reports of these rejected works by the manuscript readers and editors. Many forms have been highly annotated, particularly when a manuscript sparked initial interest but was later rejected, such as The Diary of Anne Frank. Both established Knopf authors, such as Jorge Amado, Kahlil Gibran, and Mikhail Sholokhov, as well as upcoming writers, such as Alice Adams, Michael Ondaatje, and John Kennedy Toole, are present in this subseries. A selected list of important author's names present in these files can be found in Appendix I.
A further examination of this subseries reveals an interesting fact about the readers of these submissions. While many readers were Knopf editors and longtime literary contacts like Gerstle Mack, Lewis Hanke, and Wilson Follett, others came from the Columbia University campus, again illustrating the close ties between Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. and the academic community. By using established authorities in the field as manuscript readers, the firm was assured of publishing only the best works in history, sociology, biography, and science.
Another interesting aspect of these files, also duplicated in subseries D, concerns the large representation of English, European, and Latin American writers. Knopf's reputation as a publisher of foreign titles encouraged publishers throughout the world to send books to the firm for possible American publication. With many submissions, Knopf could afford to be very choosy. Accordingly, this subseries includes rejections of established foreign authors.
Subseries F. [Translations], 1961-1978 (boxes 1171-1172)
This small subseries (two boxes only) contains a loose assortment of files pertaining mainly to translations of Spanish and Portuguese writers. Originally titled "Spanish Translations - Jane Garrett, ed." and in no particular order, the subseries was renamed and arranged by the archivist alphabetically. Most of the files originated in the office of foreign editor Jane Garrett; others were maintained by President William A. Koshland.
The subseries documents the firm's growing interest in the publication of Latin American writers in the 1960s. Most of the files contain correspondence or internal documentation relating to writers and translators in whom the company was interested. Correspondents include long-time literary contacts such as Charity Cole, Karna S. Wilgus, and Harriet De Onis, as well as historians of the region, potential translators, and authors. Of especial note are the internal records and notes that reveal the firm's interest in particular writers. The subseries is strengthened by a number of annotated lists of current writers and translators working in the area, offering an overview of the state of Latin American publishing in the 1960s. As the firm's interest in the area was spearheaded by Alfred A. Knopf, the subseries is replete with memoranda on his signature pink notepaper. For example, in an August 29, 1969 memo to Jane Garrett, he writes: "At the risk of repeating myself, our most important and immediate piece of business is to find the right translator for Amado. We cannot fool around with this or risk getting anything that is not the very best" (see file 1171.4).
The subseries also contains a small number of files relating to translations of languages other than Spanish and Portuguese. Consisting primarily of correspondence with potential translators, the files reveal the editorial problems created by translations, and the firm's commitment to the highest quality translated texts.
Series VII. Other Department Files, 1916-1996, bulk 1943-1968 (boxes 1173-1514)
This series contains selected files created outside of the Editorial Department, which dominates the rest of the collection. It is comprised of three subseries: A. Publicity Department, 1916-1995, bulk 1943-1968, B. Sales Department, 1939-1970, bulk 1948-1959, and C. College Department, 1951-1990, bulk 1951-1959. The series contains only two boxes of materials from the Sales and College Departments, with the great majority of the files (339 boxes) originating from the Publicity Department.
Subseries A. Publicity Department, 1916-1996, bulk 1943-1968 (boxes 1173-1513)
The Publicity Department subseries is made up of eight sub-subseries: 1. Publicity Files, 1916-1967, bulk 1943-1958; 2. Permanent Title Folders, 1916-1983, bulk 1955-1968; 3. W. T. Loverd Title Folders, 1968-1970, bulk 1969; 4. Fall 1984 Title Folders, 1983-1985; 5. Fall 1985 Title Folders, 1984-1986; 6. Jane Becker Friedman, 1966-1988, bulk 1975-1976 and 1983-1984; 7. Author Questionnaires Pre-1960, 1929-1965, bulk 1948-1955; and 8. General Promotional Materials, 1923-1995.
Publicity Files and Permanent Title Folders represent the vast majority of the Publicity Department subseries and are differentiated only by bulk date ranges. The Author Questionnaires and General Promotional Materials sub-subseries contain the same types of items found in Publicity Files and Permanent Title Folders. It is unknown why the Author Questionnaires were maintained seperately. The General Promotional Materials subseries was established and arranged by the archivist from items previously maintained in the Vertical Files and duplicates culled from the Publicity Files and Permanent Title Folders. The remaining sub-subseries (W. T. Loverd, Fall 1984 and Fall 1985 Title Folders, and Jane Becker Friedman) originated from the offices of publicity managers W. T. Loverd and Jane Becker Friedman.
Publicity Department files chronicle the activities and concerns of editors, authors, administrators, and publicity department personnel in the struggle to market their titles and bring authors and the company to international attention and acclaim. A vast selection of materials, including artwork, biographical information, book jackets, correspondence, clippings, memos, photographs, publication and planning forms, and reviews combine to give the user a comprehensive view of the promotional process. The materials allow a glimpse into the growth of the company as authors were drawn into the fold, as editors and staff shouldered more responsibility, and later, as authors began participating more consistently in the promotion of their books. The Publicity Subseries contains selected materials from as early as 1916, predating the file purge which eliminated most pre-1945 editorial files.
Sub-subseries 1. Publicity Files, 1916-1967, bulk 1943-1958 (boxes 1173-1289) 
 Sub-subseries 2. Permanent Title Folders, 1916-1983, bulk 1955-1968 (boxes 1290-1494)
Following the original filing and folder naming systems, these two sub-subseries are arranged alphabetically by author and then by title. Each title has several types of "activity" files, usually broken down into three categories:
  • 1. Bio. - primarily biographical information, author questionnaires, photographs, and negatives;
  • 2. Clippings - including newspaper and magazine reviews and articles, service-provided review round-ups, radio scripts, and obituaries;
  • 3. Perm. - rich in book jackets, production and planning forms, editorial fact sheets, press releases, advance orders, and notes on special markets. Often, one general Perm. folder is filed at the end of the author's folders, containing a collection of materials from all titles.
Occasionally authors have additional "activity" files labeled Advance or Correspondence. Advance files contain advance copy lists, biographical information, book jackets, editorial fact sheets, press releases, and reviews, while files labeled Correspondence usually contain requests to other authors or field experts for promotional blurbs, author responses, publication announcements, memos, receipts, and orders for review copies. Another unusual category is the "subject activity" file. For example, Albert Camus' folders include files labeled Nobel Prize which contain clippings, a manuscript record, memos, and an acceptance speech printed by Thistle Press in January, 1958 (see file 1316.5).
The integrity of all the "activity" file divisions was not consistently maintained by company employees. Materials were frequently moved from one folder to another, and may have been used as information sources or prototypes for creating new promotional items. Also, Permanent Title Folders (sub-subseries 2) often have all files consolidated into one Bio., Clipping, or Perm. file. Users are encouraged to inspect all files relating to an author to ensure that they view all materials on any given title. Together, these two large sub-subseries provide a vivid portrait of the depth of concern the firm held for the success of their authors and the often massive promotional effort afforded their titles.
Both the Publicity Files and Permanent Title Folders sub-subseries are rich in materials used in the promotion of Knopf authors, including advertisements and brochures, artwork, biographical materials (often handwritten by the author), book jackets and copy, blurbs from authors and bookseller comments, correspondence, galleys, interviews, invitations, itineraries for public appearances, newsletters, office memos, photographs and negatives, plate proofs, press releases, printing contracts, radio scripts, reviews, and selective bibliographies. Also included are an astonishing array of forms offering routine publication information for titles, such as author questionnaires, cost and distribution sheets for announcements and advertisements, editorial fact sheets, galley and manuscript reports, materials from public relations companies, order and review lists, planning cards, publication plans, readers' reports, and reprint orders. Some of these forms, such as galley and manuscript reports, offer candid opinions on readability and sales potential by sales persons, editors, and Alfred A. and Blanche Knopf. Author questionnaires are also a valuable resource, providing autobiographical information often typed or handwritten by the author.
The Alfred A. Knopf publishing company boasts a number of distinguished authors among its lists and the Publicity Files/Permanent Title Folders sub-subseries document the building and shaping of a number of author/firm relationships. For example, Langston Hughes, an award-winning African-American author recommended to the Knopfs by Carl Van Vechten, brought a measure of notoriety to the firm with his books, poetry, lectures, and readings accompanied by notable jazz artists such as the Thelonius Monk Trio. Materials chronicling his career with Knopf include review copy lists representing a veritable who's who of prominent black writers, media figures, publicists, historians, educators, entertainers, newspapers, and magazines (see file 1379.3). Heavily involved in the promotion of his own works, Hughes provided the firm with advice on how to market the work of a black author.
Although the Publicity Department subseries boasts a fascinating array of diverse materials, its real strength lies in the visually oriented nature of many of the items. The Publicity Files and Permanent Title Folders sub-subseries are rich with photographs (some with accompanying negatives), including portraits, publicity stills and candid snapshots. Renowned photographers such as Henri Cartier Bresson, E. O. Hoppe, Edward Steichen, and Carl Van Vechten contribute to the photo documentation of the collection, capturing such Knopf dignitaries as Willa Cather, John Hersey, Thomas Mann, H. L. Mencken, and many others. Additionally, these sub-subseries hold thousands of snapshots and portraits of authors, colleagues, and family members taken by Alfred A. Knopf, an avid amateur photographer.
It should be noted that all photographic materials in the Publicity File sub-subseries have been transferred to the Ransom Center Photography Department (55 boxes including a photo album and other matted or large format items housed in oversize boxes). Transfer sheets are filed in the original folders from which materials were removed. A FileMaker Pro database, available in the Photography Department, is searchable by subject, photographer/studio, and date for the more than 15,000 images. Photographs removed from the Publicity Files include a large number of family portraits, formal portraits of authors and book designers, and snapshots of authors, publishers and business associates, business and pleasure trips, as well as the grounds of the Knopf's home in Purchase, N.Y.
The Permanent Title Folders sub-subseries has few snapshots and contains primarily formal portraits and publicity photos of Knopf authors. These images remain housed with the manuscript collection and are not cataloged at an item level; however the extra effort required to search this resource may be richly rewarded. For example, this sub-subseries offers a substantial folder containing photographs of journalist H. L. Mencken dating from his childhood in 1888. Also included are images of Mencken as a young journalist, a glimpse of Mencken's gardens in Baltimore, and images documenting his portrait painted by Nicholas Schattensteen (see file 1415.7). Acclaimed mystery writer Ross Macdonald (pseudonym for Kenneth Millar) is represented in a fascinating series of photos, including a head x-ray and an atmospheric image of Millar (shot from the back to keep the subject anonymous). These photos were circulated prior to publication of The Moving Target to stir curiosity and fire the public's imagination to speculate on the author's identity (see file 1399.10).
In addition to photographic materials, the Publicity Department subseries offers a vast array of book jackets, illustrations, pamphlets, posters, original art (including caricatures by artist Miguel Covarrubius), advertising layouts, and preliminary book jacket art. These items are excellent visual-interest exhibit or illustration materials.
Correspondence throughout the Publicity and Permanent Title sub-subseries is often routine, and materials such as mass mailings of introductions, booksellers' comments, and requests for review copies from individuals, organizations, newspapers, and journals are not indexed. However, some files offer exchanges between authors, editors, and book designers, primarily concerning promotional strategies, itineraries, and editing or revisions of manuscripts. For example, Langston Hughes materials include correspondence with Blanche Knopf and editor Paul Hoffman, discussing revisions of The Big Sea and Seven Moments of Love, including an index and a collection of twenty typed poems (see file 1380.6). Additionally, these sub-subseries house interesting author responses for requests for blurbs, such as Groucho Marx's quote for Alex Atkinson's humorous thriller Exit Charlie: "I will try to read it over the next few weeks, if I like it I will probably give you a quote that will ruin the book's chances forever" (see file 1175.14).
Although the materials in the Publicity Files/Permanent Title Folders sub-subseries contain little manuscript material, there are scattered exceptions. Pio Baroja's files offer a synopsis of The World's Way, accompanied by a table of contents, prologue, and two chapters with corrections (see file 1177.1).
Sub-subseries 3. W. T. Loverd Title Folders, 1968-1970, bulk 1969 (boxes 1495-1498)
These files consist of promotional materials originating from the office of publicity manager William T. Loverd. Files are arranged chronologically, February through October, 1969, and subsequently, alphabetically by author and title. Loverd's files include: author questionnaires, biographical information, clippings, correspondence, editorial fact sheets, interviews, jacket copy, newsletters, photographs, and review lists. Although the materials are identical to those in other Publicity Department files, the focus is on maintaining contact with book reviewers and supplying review copies.
Sub-subseries 4. Fall 1984 Title Folders, 1983-1985 (boxes 1498-1502) 
 Sub-subseries 5. Fall 1985 Title Folders, 1984-1986 (boxes 1502-1505)
The Fall Title Folders sub-subseries 4 and 5 appear to have originated from the offices of publicity manager Jane Becker Friedman and are arranged alphabetically by author, and then by title for each year represented. The materials are consistent from one sub-subseries to the next and there is an overlap in date ranges.
Materials found in these sub-subseries include book orders, memos, clippings, newsletters, book jackets, contract proposals, confirmation orders on accommodation accounts, book club negotiations, and publication forms. Although materials are similar to those found throughout the Publicity Department subseries, the general date range is significantly later than in the bulk of the collection and internal documentation has transmuted to include production schedules, Knopf book club contract data, a more streamlined editor and biographical note form, and publication summaries offering selected inventory and sales figures.
Sub-subseries 6. Jane Becker Friedman, 1966-1988, bulk 1975-1976 and 1983-1984 (boxes 1505-1509)
Jane Becker Friedman's files are comprised of two distinct groups separated in bulk date ranges by nearly ten years and defined by the position Friedman held at the firm during those years. The first group, two boxes of files labeled Pre-1977, dates from 1966-1988 with bulk dates of 1975-1976, and offers a sample of Friedman's files while serving as Publicity Director for the house. Arranged alphabetically by author and title, the records include materials similar to those in W. T. Loverd's files, such as memos, correspondence, clippings, invoices, itineraries, Knopf Book Club Data sheets, photos, book jackets, typewritten blurbs, newsletters, and photocopied book orders. These files are incomplete, covering a short time span and letters L-Z only.
Following the Pre-1977 Files, the dates jump to 1983-1985. Files are arranged first chronologically by year, and then grouped by event, beginning with the Fall Sales Conference 1983 file. Materials from 1983 include more sales-oriented materials such as lists of manuscript submissions, new publication billing summaries, memos regarding sales representatives' kits and sales conferences, reprints rights sales lists, and captions for sales conference slides.
By December, 1984, Friedman carried the title Vice President and Associate Publisher. Files from 1984, still arranged by event, contain files dedicated to author appearances, cookbook catalogs, cookbook promotions, gourmet offers and mail order advertising, and sales conferences. The 1984 General Materials Files hold clippings and promos on cookbooks, lists of manuscripts in production, book orders, correspondence pertaining to review copies, book club arrangements, an agreement for Julia Child's cooking instruction videos, and mailing lists.
Sub-subseries 7. Author Questionnaires Pre-1960, 1929-1965, bulk 1948-1955 (boxes 1510-1511)
Although author questionnaires are found scattered throughout the Publicity Series, these files contain an alphabetically arranged collection of the biographical forms dating from 1929-1965, with bulk dates of 1948-1955. Valuable for the autobiographical content of the materials, the questionnaires frequently also offer descriptions of an author's work. While some forms give scant information, others have been filled out in great detail, providing manuscript descriptions, author ideas for publicity, target audiences, previous awards, honors and publications, occupations, and family information. The forms changed over time, becoming less complex, with blue copies generally indicating a date from the 1930s. American, English, and a few German authors are represented in these files.
Sub-subseries 8. General Promotional Materials, 1923-1996 (boxes 1511-1513)
The General Promotional Materials files are arranged alphabetically by author into folders marked by letter. Many of the items are duplicates culled from the larger whole of the Publicity Department subseries and the Vertical Files. These folders include printed promotional items such as newsletters, advance preview chapters or selections of passages, postcard announcements, publicity releases, prospectuses, posters, order cards, and recipes. Following the alphabetized author files, materials are arranged alphabetically by format, offering awards and fellowships, announcements, calendars, and catalogs.
Subseries B. Sales Department, 1939-1970, bulk 1948-1959 (boxes 1513-1514)
The first folders of the Sales Department subseries contain notes on an informal sales conference held in 1946. The rest contains the files of senior salesman Leon Anderson, focusing on his activities as a member of the Knopf sales department, 1946-1960. Included are files labeled Firm Correspondence and Memos, General Correspondence, Other Sales Material, and Profit Sharing. Of particular interest is the file labeled Firm Correspondence and Memos, as it is rich with encouragement, sales strategy, and advice from Knopf administrators such as Treasurer Joseph Lesser, Alfred and Blanche Knopf, and Sales Manager Alfred A. (Pat) Knopf, Jr. Also, this file chronicles Pat Knopf's resignation from the firm, his replacement by Augustus Thorndike, Jr., and Thorndike's rapid replacement by Ralph Woodward. Firm Correspondence continues through Anderson's resignation in January of 1960, and includes personal letters from Alfred as late as 1970. The General Correspondence file focuses primarily on letters and orders from book shops and covers Ralph Woodward's move from Doubleday in 1957. Correspondence in this series is incoming only. The Other Sales Materials file contains itineraries, memos, discount schedules, and receipts. The Profit Sharing file offers amendments to the company's profit sharing trust, memos, and balance sheets.
Subseries C. College Department, 1951-1990, bulk 1951-1959 (box 1514)
The College Department subseries is arranged alphabetically by employee. These files contain correspondence and memos primarily concerning employee qualifications, expectations and duties, and suggestions for manuscripts. The file for the head of the college department, John T. Hawes, includes ledger sheets containing comparisons of expected and actual sales, new title lists, and sales projections.
While most of the College Department files focus on personnel, the file for salesman and author contact John T. Schwartz gives an excellent view of pressures and expectations in the Sales Department. This file includes memos and correspondence concerning standard operating procedure, general sales policy, prime objectives of the college salesmen, and includes a memorandum detailing problems within the department and suggestions for solutions.
Series VIII. London Office Files, 1910-1957, bulk 1928-1940, (boxes 1514-1518)
The London Office, also known as Alfred A. Knopf, Ltd., was the European sister company to the larger New York City based Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. This series documents the financial problems which plagued the company from its beginning in 1926, and forced its liquidation, which was begun in 1931 and finalized in 1950. The files contain legal agreements, financial records, internal memos, and correspondence. Topics include sales records, liquidation of the company, disposition of shares of stock, descriptions of specific job duties, and the lease of office space. Very little of the correspondence in this series deals directly with individual authors handled by this office, except in terms of cursory sales records, the sale of authors' contracts to other English publishers, and the remaindering of inventory.
Additional information regarding the history of the London office can be found in the Alfred A. Knopf Personal Series (see file 656.7).
Series IX. American Mercury, 1923-1960, bulk 1933-1936 (box 1519)
This small series (only five folders) consists primarily of financial papers relating to Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.'s stock holdings in the American Mercury magazine. Although the series is sparse, it offers an overview of the relationship between the firm and the magazine in its earliest years. The first two folders originated in the office of Alfred A. Knopf. One contains American Mercury's tax returns from 1933 with a small amount of related correspondence, and the second contains correspondence concerning the sale of American Mercury's stocks in 1936 (when the magazine was bought by Lawrence E. Spivak), correspondence regarding publishing rights, and a few clippings covering the later history of the magazine. Of particular note in this folder are the 1956 and 1959 memoranda from Joseph C. Lesser recounting the financial history of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.'s interest in American Mercury. The last three folders in this series contain bound financial reports on the American Mercury accounts, dating from 1923 to 1934.

Related Material

In addition to their archives, Alfred A. and Blanche Knopf donated their personal library and some furniture to the Ransom Center. Other related materials are maintained in the Ransom Center Art Collection, Moving Image Collection, Personal Effects Collection, Photography Collection, and Vertical File Collection.
Among the other collections in the Ransom Center with correspondence from the Knopfs or the firm are those of Merle Armitage, Willa Cather, J. Frank Dobie, Morris Ernst, George Macy Ltd., John Graves, Joseph Hergesheimer, David Higham, William Humphrey, Fannie Hurst, Dan Jacobson, John Lehman, M. A. B. Lowndes, Henry Miller, Jessica Mitford, Christopher Morley, Leonidas Warren Payne, Nancy Wilson Ross, and Idella Purnell Stone. Of particular interest is the collection of the William Aspenwall Bradley Agency, whose correspondence with Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. spans 1922-1977. The collection is significant because it details the early relationship of these two firms (filling in gaps not held by the Knopf archive), and because it contains personal letters from Alfred and Blanche Knopf interfiled with the business correspondence. Related collections include the publishers' archives of Albatross Verlag, John Calder Ltd., John Lane The Bodley Head, and John Lehmann.
A much smaller collection of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. records is available at the New York Public Library. The 68-linear foot collection contains correspondence, rejection files, clippings, and typescripts, focusing generally on the 1930s and 1940s (a slightly earlier date range than the bulk of the holdings at the Ransom Center). The rejection files, containing manuscript records, rejection correspondence, and reader's reports, complement the holdings of the Ransom Center, as do the correspondence files. The collection was donated to the library before Knopf chose The University of Texas as his repository. Further, Alfred Knopf gave his correspondence with H. L. Mencken to the Enoch Pratt Free Library, which houses the Mencken Collection.

Index Terms


Knopf, Alfred A., 1892-1984.
Knopf, Blanche Wolf, 1894-1966.


American literature--20th century.
Authors and publishers--20th century.
Literature and publishing--United States.
Publishers and publishing--United States--20th century.

Folder List

Film and A/V material Box 1520-21   
Request entire Box 1520-21