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University of Texas at Austin

Bonnie Nadell:

An Inventory of Her David Foster Wallace Collection at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Nadell, Bonnie
Title: Bonnie Nadell Collection of David Foster Wallace
Dates: 1980-2011
Extent: 8 boxes (3.36 linear feet)
Abstract: Spanning nearly thirty years, the Bonnie Nadell Collection of David Foster Wallace documents Nadell's literary representation of Wallace, primarily with personal and professional correspondence between Nadell, Wallace, and publishing insiders. Also present are serial publications containing pieces by or about Wallace.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-05218
Language: English
Access: Open for research. 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 Centers' Open Access and Use Policies.

Administrative Information

Acquisition: Purchases, 2011 (2011-01-015-P), 2016 (2016-09-007-P)
Processed by: Stephen Cooper, 2011; Christine Bethke, 2018

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Bonnie Nadell worked in publishing for Simon & Schuster in New York City during the early 1980's. She moved to San Francisco around 1985, becoming a literary agent for Frederick Hill at Frederick Hill Associates. Lacking clients as a new agent, Nadell answered the phones and went through the slush file, a group of unsolicited manuscript submissions, where an excerpt of what was to become David Foster Wallace's The Broom of the System caught her attention. Wallace became her first client and she his first and only U. S. literary agent. Nadell had a large influence on Wallace's writing career, guiding him as an agent and as a close friend. With Nadell's assistance, Wallace published three novels, three short story collections, and numerous short fiction, essays, and nonfiction works with, among many others, Little, Brown and Company, Viking Press, W. W. Norton & Company, the New Yorker, GQ, Playboy, Rolling Stone, Harper's Magazine, and the Atlantic Monthly. In addition to Wallace, Nadell has represented Sonia Nazario, Antonya Nelson, and Rebecca Solnit. She is now the vice president of Hill Nadel Literary Agency, based in Los Angeles.


"David Foster Wallace." (accessed 4/4/2011).
DeMarco-Barrett, Barbara. "Voices on Writing: Bonnie Nadell." [accessed 4/1/2011].
Neyfakh, Leon. "Remembering David Foster Wallace: 'David Would Never Stop Caring' Says Lifelong Agent." [accessed 4/1/2011].

Scope and Contents

Spanning nearly thirty years, the Bonnie Nadell Collection of David Foster Wallace documents Nadell's literary representation of Wallace, primarily with personal and professional correspondence between Nadell, Wallace, and publishing insiders. The collection is organized in two series: Series I. Correspondence, and Series II. Agent files. Series I. contains over forty letters (1985-2008) from Wallace to Nadell and about twenty-four email printouts between the two discussing personal and publishing issues. In a 1989 letter, Wallace voices his anticipation of a Nadell visit: ". . . Boston is fun; we'll have laughs, listen to rap and James Brown. . ." In the most recent email (2008), Wallace discusses plans to begin an article for GQ on the just-nominated Barack Obama, stressing his need for "close, candid access to a couple of Obama's junior speech guys" before they become too involved in the campaign. Additional correspondence in Series I. is between Wallace or Nadell and various translators and publishing world colleagues and acquaintances. The content of this correspondence is almost entirely professionally-oriented. In the earliest letter (1985) of the collection, a twenty-three year old Wallace introduces himself and a "representative" chapter of The Broom of the System to Frederick Hill.
Series II. contains files relating to Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, The Broom of the System, Consider the Lobster, Everything and More, Girl With Curious Hair, Infinite Jest, Signifying Rappers, and 'periodical publications.' The files mostly contain correspondence between Nadell and editors and publishers, with some Wallace correspondence as well. Interspersed are unmarked, and often undated, typescript copies of various short Wallace pieces that most likely were meant for submission to editors. These typescripts remain in their original locations within the respective folders in which they arrived, perhaps indicating the approximate date Nadell was sending them out. Also present is an essay, "Ralph and the Legal Milestone" (1980), which Wallace wrote for a creative writing class, receiving an A+.
Series III. is a collection of magazines containing articles and stories by and about David Foster Wallace. It is divided into three subseries: A. Pieces by Wallace, B. Pieces about Wallace, and C. Unidentified. The materials in this series were acquired in 2016, and are an addition to the original acquisition in 2011.
The collection remains predominately organized as it arrived at the Ransom Center, with some minor corrections to the rough chronological order of the correspondence in each folder.

Related Material

Additional Wallace materials are located in the Ransom Center in the David Foster Wallace Papers, the David Foster Wallace Collection, the Don DeLillo Papers, and the James Linville Paris Review Collection.

Index Terms


DeLillo, Don.
Nadell, Bonnie.
Pietsch, Michael.
Turner, Alice K.
Wallace, David Foster.


American Literature.
Authors, American--Fiction.
Authors, American--20th century.
Authors, American--21st century.
Modernism (Literature)--United States.

Document Types

Serials (publications).

Container List