The Placement of a Salinger Archive

The Placement of a Salinger Archive

Group News posted in on 5 May 2014| comments

On January 22, 2014 the University of Texas in Austin published:

“J.D. Salinger may have led a private life, but even a century’s time couldn’t hide the extent of his talent. UT’s world-class humanities archive, the Harry Ransom Center, expanded its Salinger Collection last week with 21 never-before-seen letters by the famously reclusive author.”

“This is not the first time that the Harry Ransom Center has made Salinger’s writings available to researchers. The center has been collecting Salinger manuscripts for more than 40 years. According to Enniss, UT-Austin is one of only a few universities in the nation to count original Salinger manuscripts among its holdings.”

Adding, “Most of the 21 letters were written by Salinger to a friend and former schoolmate named Ruth Smith Maier. The letters that she and Salinger exchanged over their 4o-year-friendship are filled with nostalgia, describing happy college days, marriage, and parenthood.”

Earlier, in August of 2013, I received an extraordinary inquiry with an equally extraordinary request:

The writer’s father was J.D. Salinger’s jeep partner and driver during WWII. His father and Salinger were members if the Counter Intelligence Corp that landed at Normandy on D-day. Salinger and his father corresponded from 1943 until the middle 90′s. He stated that there were approximately 40 letters and Christmas cards from Salinger. The letters discussed much of Salinger’s history and thoughts, including his relationships with other members of the counter intelligence team as well as other authors who were, at that time, in the European theatre of war in Paris.

There were also letters and questionnaires to his father from academics and writers seeking information concerning Salinger. The writer noted that the letters were in excellent condition and that he also had copies of his father’s corresponding responses to Salinger’s letters.

He added that he would greatly appreciate my guidance and any information I might have on how to evaluate these letters and put them up for sale or auction. He included that he had a photograph of Salinger and his father standing together in front of their jeep.

After my many trips to Cleburne, Texas, including negotiating with and bringing major dealers to meetings with the writer’s family, in December of 2013 the archive was placed privately at a record price for Salinger’s works.

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