Scope and Contents
||Correspondence, financial and legal documents, manuscripts, sound recordings, printed
materials, clippings, photographs, and notes (1913-1967, bulk 1958-1967) document
the professional career and private life of book publisher Thayer Hobson. The
are arranged in four series: I. General Publishing, 1932-1967 (5 boxes); II. Erle
Stanley Gardner, 1957-1967 (6 boxes); III. Nonpublishing, 1913-1967 (6 boxes);
IV. Elizabeth Tonkin Hobson, 1960-1967 (1 box).
||The collection consists largely of Hobson's correspondence after he stepped down as
president of William Morrow and Company and left New York in 1958, together with
some older personal and financial files. The papers show his professional and
personal relations with the staffs of Morrow and other businesses associated with
Morrow's publishing endeavors; with authors published by Morrow; with his extremely
wide circle of friends and acquaintances in the East, Arizona, and Texas; with
others involved in the raising and racing of horses; and with his fellow Yale
alumni. The publishing-related materials concern almost all aspects of the business,
including acquisitions, editing, advertising, marketing, financial management,
foreign publications, and copyright. Also included in the collection are manuscripts
of a number of short stories that Hobson wrote in the 1930s.
||Aside from Morrow author Erle Stanley Gardner--who is by far the most voluminous
correspondent in these papers--significant correspondents include many employees
William Morrow and Company, among them officers Lawrence Hughes, John T. Lawrence,
and Donald Stevenson; editors Helen B. King, Francis L. Phillips, and John C.
Willey; and secretaries Henriette Gelber and Lorraine Rockett. There is also
extensive correspondence from Pocket Books president Freeman Lewis and several
Erle Stanley Gardner’s assistants, particularly Jean Bethell (who became Gardner's
second wife), Peggy Downs, Ruth ("Honey") Moore, Hedy Roripaugh, and Helene Seay.
Among the personal correspondence are large numbers of letters exchanged with
friends Father Joseph Cleary, F. Peavey Heffelfinger, Ruth Moore, P. I. Prentice,
and Raymond M. Weaver. Hobson was not always consistent in his filing, and closely
related correspondence may be found in his business papers, in the Gardner files,
and among his personal papers. An index of correspondents is included in this
||Series I. General Publishing, 1932-1967, nd (5 boxes)
||The General Publishing series contains correspondence, financial records,
legal documents, printed material, and notes documenting Thayer Hobson’s
work for William Morrow and Company. The series is divided into three
subseries: A. Correspondence, 1937-1967; B. Financial, 1932-1967; and C.
||Material in the Correspondence subseries relates broadly to the publishing
enterprise of William Morrow. Much of it is between Hobson and the two men
who succeeded him as president, John T. ("Sam") Lawrence and Lawrence
Hughes. Among other topics, the letters document the growing dissatisfaction
of Morrow employees with Lawrence's performance in the office and Hobson's
role in his eventual departure. Hobson's correspondence with Morrow's
officers, editors, sales representatives, marketing staff, rights and
permissions personnel, and secretaries shows his continued close concern for
all aspects of the publishing business. His dealings with other figures in
the publishing world are also documented here, as, for example, in his
correspondence with Desmond Flower of the British publisher Cassell and Co.
and Freeman ("Doc") Lewis of Pocket Books. There are also many examples of
his warm relationships with Morrow's authors, such as Ernest K. Gann, Paul
McGuire, Ruth Moore, and Herman Toepperwein.
||A few files in this section are centered around subjects rather that
correspondents. The file devoted to the Century Association documents
Hobson's ultimately futile efforts to have Alfred A. Knopf accepted for
membership in that organization. The New York Herald
Tribune file contains copies of his letters to the book
reviewing staff of that newspaper with detailed information about Morrow's
forthcoming books. The folder of letters and papers from and about Gerith
Von Ulm documents her attempts to have Morrow publish her controversial
biography, Charlie Chaplin, King of Tragedy,
in the late 1930s.
||As much as possible, the files have been kept as Hobson created them. He
retained copies of almost all his outgoing letters, and incoming and
outgoing correspondence is interfiled. He was in the habit of stapling
copies of his replies on top of his incoming correspondence, and
consequently items that Hobson fastened together within his papers have been
kept together and have been arranged by the correspondent or date of the
first letter in the group.
||In the Index of Correspondents for this collection, business letters from
employees of William Morrow and Company are indexed by employee name; other
business letters are indexed by firm. Because Hobson was functioning in his
business capacity "in absentia" in Arizona and Texas, his correspondents
frequently sent him copies of letters from other writers; these third-party
letters have been indexed and, except when they were addressed to Erle
Stanley Gardner or employees of William Morrow, include parenthetical notes
naming their addressees.
||The Financial subseries comprises correspondence, reports, receipts, and
other financial documents regarding stock, sales, and income. Stock
purchases are documented primarily through correspondence with various
financial advisors. The majority of correspondence is among Hobson, his
lawyer Orlando Metcalf, and Hans von Briesen, lawyer for the William Morrow
estate, and concerns Hobson’s purchases of Morrow stock and payments on
notes. Also included is correspondence between Hobson and various
stockholders, along with a notice for a special meeting of stockholders in
1932 at which stock shares were reevaluated and reorganized after Hobson
became president of Morrow.
||This subseries also contains monthly and weekly sales records (1956-1962)
documenting sales by Morrow and its subsidiaries. Among the financial
statements (1956-1960) are income sheets, consolidated balance sheets, and
examinations of accounts for Morrow and subsidiaries. Though they retain the
chronological order that Hobson imposed, not every subsidiary company is
represented each year.
||The General subseries includes contact cards, datebooks, and printed
material. The contact cards contain the names, addresses, and phone numbers
of friends and contacts in the publishing business. Datebooks for 1952-1958,
1960, and 1962 include entries relating to appointments, expense and cash
accounts, and shopping lists. Newspaper clippings and magazine articles make
up the majority of the printed material, including obituaries for various
publishing figures such as Henry R. Luce, Blanche Knopf, and Sir Victor
||Series II. Erle Stanley Gardner, 1957-1967, nd (6 boxes)
||The Erle Stanley Gardner series contains correspondence, sound recordings,
financial records, legal documents, printed material, clippings, notes, and
photographs relating to William Morrow’s publication of Gardner’s writings.
The series is divided into three subseries: A. Correspondence, 1958-1967; B.
Financial and Legal, 1957-1967; and C. Miscellaneous, 1959-1967.
||The majority of the Correspondence subseries consists of Gardner's letters to
Hobson, copies of Hobson's replies, and copies of Gardner's letters to other
correspondents (mostly Morrow personnel) and their replies. Subjects include
editorial comments on Gardner’s drafts and information on sales, royalties,
marketing, promotion, and foreign rights and publication of the Perry Mason,
A. A. Fair, and Doug Selby mystery novels and of Gardner’s travel books, and
matters relating to Perry Mason broadcasts, particularly the television
series. Besides Hobson, other principal correspondents include Hobson’s
secretary Henriette ("Hennie") Gelber, Hobson’s lawyer Maurice Greenbaum,
Gardner’s secretaries Jean Bethell and Ruth ("Honey") Moore, Morrow
employees Lawrence Hughes, John T. Lawrence, and Helen King, Pocket Books'
Freeman Lewis, and Willis Wing, Gardner’s agent for magazine publications.
During the early 1960s Gardner grew concerned that his sales were slipping,
perhaps because of the rising popularity of James Bond; much of the
correspondence in this period is taken up with analyses of sales and
marketing of his books in an effort to understand and reverse the trend. In
addition, Gardner's and Hobson's letters are filled with details of their
private lives and of Gardner's working methods. In one letter, for example,
Gardner gives a lengthy explanation of his practice of buying a gun for each
of his mysteries so that he would have an authentic serial number for use in
his fictional courtroom.
||Hobson also maintained three separate files of correspondence organized by
subject: one concerning the publication of a Gardner comic magazine, and two
having to do with Mexico. Materials connected with Gardner comics include
drafts and American and German copies of the first issue, "The Case of the Counterfeit Eye" (1964), and
an American copy of "The Case of the Sulky
Girl" (1964), as well as correspondence among Hobson, Greenbaum, and
representatives from Dell Publishing and Atlantic Publishing Corp.,
documenting legal and promotional aspects of the endeavor.
||The first file on Mexico retains Hobson’s original label of "El Dorado," and
contains correspondence concerning Gardner’s ill-fated investment in Minas
la Dura, a mining company in Mexico in which Isabelle Hobson was also an
investor. The second file, which Hobson labeled "Mexico," documents the
efforts of Gardner and Hobson to curtail piracy of Gardner’s books in Mexico
and Spain, primarily those editions distributed by Editorial Diana.
Principal correspondents include Gardner, Hobson, Gardner’s agent for
Spanish language publications Lawrence Smith, and the Mexican law firm
Noriega y Escobedo.
||Gardner also communicated with Hobson through approximately eighty Audograph
dictation discs. These items have been separated from other correspondence
and ordered according to the year of their postmark. The envelopes, on which
Hobson made brief notes, have been left in the collection, but the discs
have been removed to the Sound Recordings Collection.
||The Financial and Legal subseries contains Gardner sales reports for Morrow
trade editions and Pocket Books, royalty statements, and foreign sales
reports. Also included is an inventory and appraisal of correspondence
between Gardner and William Morrow and Company (1961) by Lew David Feldman.
Among the legal papers are contracts between Gardner and Thayer Hobson and
Company, William Morrow and Company, and Pocket Books, as well as contracts
with several foreign publishers (1957-1967). Additionally, this subseries
contains correspondence that Hobson filed with these financial and legal
documents which directly pertains to them.
||Among the miscellaneous items are brochures, magazine articles, newspaper
clippings, and photographs.
||Series III. Nonpublishing, 1913-1967, nd (6 boxes)
||Four subseries make up this portion of the papers: A. Correspondence,
1916-1967; B. Creative Writing, 1930-1946; C. Horses, 1963-1967; and D.
||The Correspondence subseries consists of letters largely unrelated to
Hobson's publishing career. These are his letters to and from friends and
acquaintances, including fellow Yale alumni and members of the Skull and
Bones Society, members of the Catholic clergy whose advice and friendship he
sought in his conversion to the Catholic faith, and many of the same
correspondents represented in other series of the collection but filed here
by Hobson because of their largely personal subject matter. Significant
correspondents in this subseries are Father Joseph Cleary; fellow Yale
graduates F. Peavey Heffelfinger, P. I. Prentice, Charles Moore, and Henry
R. Luce; and Westminster schoolmate Raymond M. Weaver, who later became
Herman Melville's first biographer. In several files in this series Hobson
kept letters by topic rather than correspondent. These include letters
relating to the donation of the H. L. Davis papers to the University of
Texas; fund-raising activities for the Deer Island Club for Yale alumni; a
speaking engagement (the Matrix Dinner) for the journalism society Theta
Sigma Phi; complaints to the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad from
the 1940s and 1950s; his efforts to have a young friend from Comfort
accepted to the University of Notre Dame; and his dealings with the Veterans
Administration (originally called the Veterans Bureau) over benefits
stemming from his injuries in World War I.
||Manuscripts and a few printed copies of Hobson's short stories, articles, and
reviews are located in the Creative Writing subseries. The manuscripts are
undated, but according to Hobson were written in the early 1930s. Several
were published in venues such as McCalls,
Good Housekeeping, Mademoiselle, and the Chicago
Tribune. Almost all were submitted or published under pseudonyms:
Francis Thayer, John Cropper, Garant Manning, and O. B. Jennings. The
correspondence accompanying these manuscripts documents his attempts to find
publishers for the stories through literary agents such as Ann Watkins, Inc.
and Leland Hayward, Inc. and his unsuccessful efforts to sell them to
||The Horses subseries documents his ventures with his wife Elizabeth into the
raising of Appaloosas and quarter horses and their involvement with horse
racing after relocating to Deer Ledge Ranch near Comfort, Texas, in 1962.
The files are named and arranged largely as Hobson maintained them:
correspondence is interfiled with membership certificates, racing
announcements, receipts, publications, copies of applications, legal
documents, and programs. The correspondence has been placed in the front of
each folder and sorted chronologically, and is followed by other types of
materials. None of the correspondence in this subseries has been indexed.
||The Personal subseries contains clippings; notes and papers from his prep
school and university days; academic, financial, legal, and medical records;
house plans; and photographs. Among the papers here are plans for Hobson's
home in Tucson; a ledger with personal financial records dating from 1917;
his wife's marriage certificate and will; detailed notebooks kept by his
medical caretakers in his last weeks; formal portraits of Hobson and
snapshots of him, his wife, and friends; an unidentified membership list
dated 1917; and clippings concerning Hobson, mostly from San Antonio
newspapers in the 1960s and including several obituaries.
||Series IV. Elizabeth Tonkin Hobson, 1960-1967, nd (1 box)
||This series consists largely of letters of condolence on the death of Thayer
Hobson and a much smaller amount of personal correspondence, almost entirely
from Hobson to his wife. Where the condolence consists only of a signed
card, it has not been indexed; all other correspondence in this series
(except that by Thayer Hobson) has been indexed by author.
||The letters from Hobson begin shortly before the death of Elizabeth's husband
H. L. Davis and continue through their courtship and marriage in 1960.
||The letters of condolence frequently bear notes by Elizabeth and shorthand
notations presumably by a secretary helping her write responses. The
miscellaneous items in this series include floral cards and lists of persons
who have sent condolences.