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University of Texas at Austin

Don DeLillo:

A Preliminary Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: DeLillo, Don, 1936-
Title: Don DeLillo Papers
Dates: Circa 1959-2013
Extent: 151 document boxes, 1 half-document box, 4 periodical boxes, 1 oversize box (osb) (63.21 linear feet), 1 oversize folder (osf), 8 galley folders (gf)
Abstract: This collection contains notes, research materials, typescript drafts, editorial correspondence, reviews, and production materials for DeLillo's novels, plays, screenplays, and short works of fiction and non-fiction; career-related papers and ephemera; personal, professional, and fan correspondence; and periodicals containing the published texts of his shorter works. The DeLillo collection is not fully cataloged; this preliminary inventory contains only a description of scope and contents, a container list, and an index of correspondents.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-04924
Language: Most material in English with some material in German and Norwegian.
Access: Open for research

Administrative Information

Acquisition: Purchases and gift, 2004-2013 (R15237, R15239, R16538, 10-02-006-P, 11-02-003-P, 13-06-016-P)
Processed by: Katherine Haack and Liz Murray, 2004; Amy E. Armstrong, 2013; Sally DeBauche, 2013

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Scope and Contents

The papers of American novelist Don DeLillo consist of manuscripts and related materials for most of his novels, plays, short fiction and non-fiction works, his professional and personal correspondence files, as well as a collection of published versions of his short works. The collection is arranged in four series: I. Works, 1968-2011; II. Correspondence, 1959-2008; III. Publications, 1960-2003; and IV. Career-Related, circa 1978-2008.
Series I. Works makes up the bulk of the collection and is divided into two subseries: A. Full-Length Novels and Plays, 1968-2011 and B. Short Works, 1975-2009. The works are arranged alphabetically by title within each subseries; materials for individual works, in turn, are generally arranged in creation order. The research clippings, note fragments, and multiple edited drafts contained in this series provide insight into DeLillo's creative process. DeLillo often typed drafts one paragraph per page and edited continuously until he achieved his desired results. The series contains hundreds of pages with reworked individual paragraphs.
Subseries A. includes notes, research materials, multiple typescript drafts, and proofs, along with associated editorial correspondence and reviews for DeLillo's novels and magazine excerpts. Research materials for the novels range from dozens of news clippings to pamphlets on nuclear fallout to airline emergency procedure booklets. This subseries also includes manuscripts and related production and performance materials for DeLillo's plays The Day Room (1986), The Engineer of Moonlight (1979), Valparaiso (1999), and Love-Lies-Bleeding (2006), as well as a screenplay, Game 6.
Material associated with the novels Falling Man (2007) and Point Omega (2011), the short story "Hammer and Sickle," and the play Love-Lies-Bleeding (2006), as well as other works, includes folders of note fragments. These are handwritten notes on small pieces of paper that DeLillo grouped and paper-clipped together. In some instances, these smaller groupings were clipped together into larger groupings. For preservation purposes, the paper clips were removed and each grouping placed into a white paper sleeve.
The Short Works in Subseries B. are both fiction and non-fiction, and include short stories, a novella, playlets, articles, and essays, as documented through notes, drafts, proofs, and correspondence.
While some editorial correspondence is located in the Works series, a substantial amount of DeLillo's correspondence with his editors is found in Series II. Correspondence. The sizeable correspondence files that make up this series are arranged in three subseries, matching DeLillo's original filing system: A. Alphabetical Files, B. Professional Correspondence, and C. Chronological Personal and Fan Files. The Alphabetical Files contain large runs of correspondence from individuals such as Tom Grimes, Tom LeClair, Frank Lentrrichia, and Gordon Lish. There are few examples of outgoing correspondence from DeLillo in the collection, but among the notable exceptions are exchanges between DeLillo and fellow authors Jonathan Franzen and David Foster Wallace concerning Underworld and the art of writing. Other prominent correspondents include Nelson Algren, Paul Auster, Russell Banks, Ann Beattie, Harold Brodkey, Robert Coover, Frederick Exley, Jonathan Safran Foer, Mary Karr, Norman Mailer, Rick Moody, and Philip Roth.
The Professional Correspondence in Subseries B. includes letters concerning DeLillo's published works, mainly from his editors and translators, but also from those interested in film and theatrical adaptations of his works. There are many pieces of correspondence between DeLillo and his longtime editor Nan Graham, as well as his agent, Lois Wallace. There is an interesting selection of correspondence concerning the translation of DeLillo's works, including jocular notes between DeLillo and the translators, as well as many lists of the precise meaning of the vernacular of his characters and prose. These lists were generally written as responses to a translator's specific questions from the text.
The Chronological Files in Subseries C., beginning in 1971 and continuing through 2003, consist primarily of fan mail. However, there are also many letters from friends of DeLillo and his wife, Barbara, as well as copies of responses written by DeLillo.
A name index of all incoming correspondence is provided with this finding aid.
Series III. Publications includes four boxes of periodicals which contain the published texts of DeLillo's shorter works. These publications range from the New Yorker to Sports Illustrated and contain articles, essays, short stories, and playlets by DeLillo.
Series IV. Career-Related contains a variety of material documenting DeLillo's career and interests. Contents include papers from a conference held for translators who worked on Underworld; materials demonstrating DeLillo's support for Salman Rushdie; and ephemera connected to the Jerusalem Prize that was awarded to DeLillo in 1999. This series also includes works by others such as material associated with dance and stage adaptations of DeLillo's novel The Body Artist, as well as copies of theses, essays, and dissertations written by scholars and students about DeLillo's works. Also in this series are materials from the Telluride and European film festivals at which DeLillo participated. He served on the official Selection Jury at the 2007 European Film Festival and was Guest Director at the 2005 Telluride Film Festival. Publicity material such as interviews, profiles, conference proceedings, posters, and other printed material are also contained in this series.
Audio and video recordings, as well as books received with the papers were transferred to appropriate departments within the Ransom Center.
DeLillo's own identifications of manuscripts and drafts, when available, are used in the container list descriptions and appear in single quotation marks.

Don DeLillo Papers--Container List