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Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. William A. Koshland Files:

A Preliminary Inventory of Its Records at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
Title: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., William A. Koshland Files
Dates: 1921-1996
Extent: 39 boxes (16 linear feet)
Abstract: This additional material for the Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. archive contains files from the office of William A. Koshland who joined the Knopf firm in 1934. He was president of Knopf from 1966, chairman in 1973, and chairman emeritus until his death in 1997. The bulk of the material is comprised of correspondence with authors and Knopf firm business.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-00602
Language: Material in English.
Access: Open for research

Administrative Information

Acquisition: Gifts,1996 and 1998 (Gift nos. 10636 and 11186)
Processed by: Hope Donovan Rider and Liz Murray, 2005

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Scope and Contents

This additional material for the Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. archive contains files from the office of William A. Koshland who joined the Knopf firm in 1934. He was president of Knopf from 1966, chairman in 1973, and chairman emeritus until his death in 1997. The files were received in two accretions, one from Koshland in 1996 (Gift No. 10636, 6 boxes); and a second, larger shipment from the firm in 1998, after his death (Gift No. 11186, 32 boxes). The accretions are listed separately and original order has been retained. Because Koshland did not maintain a traditional filing system, preferring instead to have files at ready reach, some anomalies exist. For example, date spans often overlap, especially in the general correspondence where multiple alphabetical sequences exist for similar time periods.
The material in the first sequence (Gift no. 10636, Boxes 1-6) comprises author files for Raymond Chandler, Edward Craig, Langston Hughes, Helen Lowe-Porter, Thomas Mann, H. L. Mencken, Wallace Stevens, and B. Traven. These files date as early as 1921 and reflect the evolving relationship between the authors and the firm's members including Alfred and Blanche Knopf, as well as editors such as Jill Cutler, Herbert Weinstock, and others.
All the author files contain significant author correspondence with the exception of H. L. Mencken. The Mencken files are primarily concerned with his estate and dealings with the Mercantile-Safe Deposit & Trust Company.
The Thomas Mann correspondence is particularly lengthy and includes letters to and from Mann's wife Katia. There is a long run of letters between Mann and Alfred Knopf from 1925-1955. One folder in particular " Mann Special" contains a photocopy of Katia Mann's letter to Alfred Knopf written shortly after Mann's death. Both Knopf and Koshland kept this letter in a separate folder in their files. This folder also contains a photograph of Katia and Thomas, taken the summer of 1955, the year Mann died. Additional Chandler, Mann, and Mencken materials are found in the Gift No. 11186 accession.
The second sequence of files (Gift no. 11186, Boxes 7-38), gathered from Koshland's office after his death, is arranged in three series: Series I. Correspondence, 1925-1996; Series II. Knopf Firm, 1932-1996; and Series III. Koshland Personal Papers, 1942-1996. The correspondence series comprises Subseries A. Editorial Files and Subseries B. General Correspondence. Authors represented in the editorial files include Elizabeth Bowen, Wallace Brockway, Willa Cather, Julia Child, Alistair Cooke, Miguel Covarrubias, Clarence Day, Kahlil Gibran, Learned Hand, John Hersey, Margaret Lane, D. H. Lawrence, Robert Nathan, Otto Rank, Jean-Paul Sartre, and John Updike. Correspondence to and from Alfred and Blanche Knopf is found throughout. As with the previous accession, a substantial amount of Thomas Mann files are present.
Subseries B. General Correspondence dates from 1960-1996 with four separate alphabetical runs from 1978-1985, reflecting Koshland's arrangement of his files. This literary correspondence typically includes letters to and from agents, publishers, universities, libraries, literary journals, and individual writers.
Series II. contains office and business correspondence pertaining to the running of the Knopf firm, including authors lists, Board of Directors minutes, contract data, copyright and royalty information, catalogues, employee files, and salary reports, as well as files on Alfred and Blanche Knopf.
Series III. Koshland Personal Papers includes files on his involvement with various literary and cultural entities, addresses, correspondence, and details of trips taken from 1961-1978. Of note is the exchange of correspondence between Koshland and the Knopfs during the war years, 1942-1945 wherein news of the war and activities at the firm were exchanged. Several letters from Alice B. Toklas can be found in Koshland's unsorted personal correspondence.
Dictabelts included with a folder "notes to self and Helen Lawkins, 1964" were transferred to the Sound Recordings Collection.

Index Terms


Bowen, Elizabeth, 1899-1973.
Cather, Willa, 1873-1947.
Chandler, Raymond, 1888-1959.
Child, Julia.
Cooke, Alistair, 1908-2004.
Covarrubias, Miguel, 1904-1957.
Gibran, Kahlil, 1883-1931.
Hammett, Dashiell, 1894-1961.
Hellman, Lillian, 1905-1984.
Hersey, John, 1914-1993.
Hughes, Langston, 1902-1967.
Knopf, Alfred A., 1892-1984.
Knopf, Blanche W., 1894-1966.
Lowe-Porter, H. T. (Helen Tracy), 1876-1963.
Mann, Thomas, 1875-1955.
Mann, Katia, 1883-1980.
Mencken, H. L. (Henry Louis), 1880-1956.
Nathan, Robert, 1894-1985.
Stevens, Wallace, 1879-1955.
Traven, B.
Updike, John.

Document Types

Address books.

Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., William A. Koshland Files--Folder List