Salinger letters

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Note: This page has been substantially rewritten to conform to the wishes of Harold Ober Associates, Salinger's literary agency. They objected to my use of quotes from unpublished work, and we agreed to remove these. This page was written by someone else (possibly "Toenail") not me.

There are a number of Salinger papers in the University of Texas at Austin's Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center rare books collection. Access is quite restricted, though. Included in the materials from Story magazine deposited in the Archives at Princeton University Library are thirty-six letters and post cards from Salinger to the personnel at Story, most to Whit Burnett, editor. The letters that are dated are listed in chronological order; those that are not dated have been assigned an approximate date on the basis of the the content of the letters, notes made by Burnett on the letters, and/or letters that Burnett wrote to Salinger. Each citation contains a listing of the date or an approximation, the return address, the salutation, length, and an indication of whether typed or handwritten.

  • 15 January 1939 (1p., typed, 1133 Park Avenue, New York City; Dear Story) Salinger provides autobiographical information for Story magazine, perhaps as a classroom assignment in Burnett's short story class at Columbia University, comments on the short story class, on his personality, and on his emotional state.

  • 21 November 1939 (2 pp., handwritten, 1133 Park Avenue, New York; Dear Mr. Burnett)

    Salinger mentions an unusual story that he has just submitted to Collier's, apologizes for not reading all of the assigned material in Burnett's class and for an autobiography that he had written the previous semester in Burnett's course, and finally comments on "the good short story" and "the good reader."

  • 28 January (1 1/2 pp., typed 1133 Park Avenue, New York City; Dear Mr. Burnett) <P>
    Salinger reports that he is not returning to Columbia, that he is pleased about the acceptance of his story, presumably "The Young Folks," by Story (he includes six apparently fictional comments that have been made about him and his publishing), that he has recently seen a play ("Juno and the Paycock") and one by Saroyan, whose work Salinger likes. Salinger ends by criticizing himself.

  • 7 February 1940 (1 p., typed, 1133 Park Avenue, New York City; Dear Miss Kean) <P>
    Salinger lists the names and addresses of people to whom he would like Story to send cards announcing the publication of his story "The Young Folks."

  • 24 February 1940 ( 2 pp., typed, 1133 Park Avenue, New York; Dear Miss Foley) <P>
    Salinger belatedly thanks Foley for the acceptance of "The Young Folks," comments on his recent personal activities, compliments Burnett on the short story class at Columbia, and mentions that because the current issue of Story is late.

  • 1 March 1940 (1p., typed, 1133 Park Avenue, New York; Dear Mr. Burnett) <P>
    In response to a letter from Burnett, Salinger writes about his story "The Young Folks" in Story. Salinger mentions a "complimentary" letter he has received from a literary agent, "a long story" that Salinger is working on entitled "The Survivors."

  • 17 April 1940 (1 p., typed, 1133 Park Avenue, New York; Dear Mr. Burnett) <P>
    In response to Burnett's letter of 16 April 1940, Salinger writes that eve though Story rejected his story "Go See Eddie," the fact that Burnett like the story "pleased" Salinger; he has sent the story to Esquire along with Burnett's note; Salinger praises the growth of Story.

  • 3 May 1940 (1 p., typed, 1133 Park Avenue, New York City; Dear Mr. Burnett) <P>
    Salinger accepts Burnett's invitation to attend the Writers Club dinner, mentions that Esquire rejected "Go See Eddie," that he has another story at Harper's Bazaar, and complains about the way editors express their rejection of his work. Most of the letter concerns Salinger's desire to write plays and to act in them himself.

  • 3 May 1940 (1 p., typed 1133 Park Avenue, New York City; Dear Mr. Burnett) <P>
    Having just seen a play by William Saroyan which the critics "panned," Salinger writes to Burnett to complain about the critics. Salinger writes to Burnett in hopes that Burnett will encourage his friend Saroyan.

  • 16 May 1940 (1 p., tped, 1133 Park Avenue, New York; Dear Mr. Burnett) <P>
    In this letter, written the day after he attended the Writers Club dinner, Salinger thanks Burnett for the good time. Apparently Burnett has asked Salinger to write a radio script of 'The Trouble with People,' Which Salinger says he would do if he wasn't working on another already.

  • 8 August 1940, postmark. Picture post card, Manoir Richelieu, Canada; Dear Mr. Burnett) <P>
    Salinger writes that Quebec is full of stories.

  • 4 September 1940 (1 p., typed, 1133 Park Avenue, New York City; Dear Mr. Burnett) <P>
    Salinger says that he is not too upset that Story has rejected one of his stories, that he has not yet been paid for "The Young Folks," that he is thinking about writing an autobiographical novel, and that his recent time away has help to make him confident again.

  • 6 September 1940 (2 pp., typed, 1133 Park Avenue, New York; Dear Mr. Burnett) <P>
    Salinger acknowledges receiving his check for "The Young Folks," mentions some people from the short story class at Columbia, and says that he has submitted a long story to an agent. Salinger's plans include beginning "the novel" and voting for Roosevelt. Salinger comments briefly on using his initials "J. D."

  • 19 September 1940 (1 p., typed, 1133 Park Avenue, New York City; Dear Mr. Burnett) <P>
    This is a note attached to Salinger's story "The Survivors," which he rewrote.

  • 11 December 1941 (1 p., typed, 1133 Park Avenue, New York; Dear Mr. Burnett) <P>
    Salinger writes of three topics: a story which is coming out in the New Yorker (presumably "Slight Rebellion off Madison," which Donald Fiene notes was "bought by New Yorker originally in 1941, set into type, and then delayed because of the War"); Harriet Ann Willets; and, his classification as "I-B".

  • 22 January 1942 (1 p., typed, 1133 Park Avenue, New York; Dear Mr. Burnett) <P>
    Salinger requests that Burnett comment on Harriet Ann Willets' novel, complains that his story has not yet appeared in the New Yorker, mentions that he has written a long story called 'The Kissless Life of Reilly' and that his agent has sent 'The Long Debut of Lois Taggett' to Burnett. With references to works he likes--F. Scott Fitzgerald's, particularly The Last Tycoon, Sherwood Anderson's, and 'McEwin's Affair' from Story.

  • 8 June 8 1942 (1p., typed, Company 1, 1st Sig. Tng. Bn., Fort Monmouth, New Jersey; Dear Mr. Burnett) <P>
    Salinger writes about being in the army.

  • 12 July 1942 (1 p., typed, 1133 Park Avenue, New York; Dear Mr. Burnett) <P>
    Writing at home for the weekend, Salinger thanks Burnett for sending letters.

  • 3 September 1942 (1p., handwritten, 322nd Base Hq. and Air Base Squadron, AAP, BRS, Bainbridge, Georgia; Dear Mr. Burnett) <P>
    Without mentioning the title, Salinger says that he has seen his story ("the Long Debut of Lois Taggett") in Story, later he talks about Georgia.

  • early 1943 (2pp., typed, 322nd Base Hq. and Air Base Squadron, AAF, BFS, Bainbridge, Georgia; Dear Whit) <P>
    Salinger mentions a story called "The Broken Children" that his agent has sent to Story, some writing that he is doing for Collier's and the New Yorker, that he might be interested in selling stories to be made into movies; he praises Burnett's anthology, criticizes Somerset Maugham and William Saroyan, and refers to some friends he has made in the army. This letter is accompanied by a photograph of Salinger and two friends taken on Christmas Day, 1942.

  • c. March--April 1943 (1 p., typed, 322nd Base Hq. and Air Base Sqdrn., AAF, BFS, Bainbridge, Georgia; Dear Whit) <P>
    Salinger refers to health problems--arthritis, tooth extractions, and mental health--mentions some writing he is doing and a rejected suggestion from Houghton Mifflin that he apply for Fellowships, and suggests that Burnett include in Story a review by Mary H. Colum, in contrast to Clifton Fadiman, whom Salinger says he hates.

  • c. April--May 1943 (1 p., typed 322nd Base Hq. and Air Base Sqdrn., AAF, BFS, Bainbridge, Georgia; Dear Whit) <P>
    While in New York recently, Salinger wanted to visit Burnett but did not. He mentions the recently sold story "The Varioni Brothers" and a newly written story "Rex Passard on the Planet Mars". Salinger reminisces about the people in Burnett's short-story class.

  • 1 July 1943 (1 p., typed, Squadron A-2, AAFCC, Nashville, Tenn.; Dear Whit)

    Salinger comments on his military routine, his unmarried life, and his writing routine.

  • c. 1943 (1 p., handwritten, Dear Mr Burnett) <P>
    Salinger writes that he has time to write at night and praises a novel by William Saroyan and a Scott Fitzgerald story.

  • c. July--October 1943 (2 pp., typed, 85th Depot Supply Squadron, Patterson Field, Fairfield, Ohio; Dear Whit) <P>
    Salinger brags about the publication of "The Varioni Brothers" in the Saturday Evening Post and mentions a story entitled "Bitsey" that he hopes to sell to Saturday Evening Post. Salinger thinks that he may be transferred to Public Relations in the army. The letter contains several remarks: about his own wedding plans; his reading; Edith Kean's many publications in Story; his mother recently met a salesgirl at Saks' who was in the short story class at Columbia; he had recently seen "My Friend Flicka"; and, he has a story at the New Yorker entitled "Are You Banging Your Head Against the Wall?"

  • 4 October 1943, postmark (postcard, handwritten; Dear Whit) <P>
    Salinger writes that he has been transferred, and he will try to continue working on his novel.

  • 14 January 1944 (2 pp., handwritten; Dear Whit) <P>
    As he awaits orders to be shipped overseas, Salinger writes that he sold three stories to Saturday Evening Post, including "Last Day of the Last Furlough," which mentions Holden Caulfield, the kid in his novel.

  • 19 March 1944 (8 half-pages, handwritten, Div. Gqs. Co., APO #4, c/o Postmaster, New York; Dear Whit) <P>
    Corresponding from England, Salinger comments on his writing and that of others: his story "Both Parties Concerned" came out recently in Saturday Evening Post; he wrote a story in London; he has written six chapters of his novel; he asks that Burnett get his story "Elaine"; Salinger offers to contribute to the a short story contest sponsored by Story; and, he has recently read a book on the short story by an Englishman Bates who mentions Hemingway and Sherwood Anderson.

  • 22 April 1944 (3 half-pages, handwritten; C.I.C. Section, 4th Inf. Div., APO
    1. 4, c/o PM, New York; Dear Whit)
    Salinger complains about the Saturday Evening Post's illustrations and about the fact that they changed the titles of his story "Death of a Dogface" to "Soft-Boiled Sergeant" and "Wake Me When It Thunders" to "Both Parties Concerned." Salinger continues to work on his novel, and he received a letter of complaint from Edith Kean about his writing for Story."

  • 2 May 1944 (9 pp., handwritten; Dear Whit) <P>
    Salinger responds negatively to Burnett's suggestion about putting together a collection of Salinger's stories. He then lists what he considers are his best eight stories and mentions that he has six Holden Caulfield for the book, that his agent has ten or fifteen others. He mentions that he is sending his agent another one entitled "Total War Diary." He has quit working on the Holden Caulfield book. Salinger misses the short story class at Columbia, encloses a check for Story's contest.

  • 12 June 1944 (2 pp., post card size, handwritten, C.I.C. Detach., 4th Inf. Div., APO #4, c/o PM, N.Y.C.; Dear Whit) <P>
    Writing from France, Salinger reports on his work and asks if his agent has sent copies of his work.

  • 28 June 1944 (1 p., typed with handwritten note, France; Dear Whit) <P>
    Salinger writes that he prefers to write a novel before the book of stories; he wants to finish it in six months. Salinger's military activities scare him. He thanks Burnett for accepting his story "Elaine" and asks about the check he sent.

  • 9 September 1944 (5 pp., handwritten CIC Sect, 4th Inf. Div. APO #4, c/o Postmaster, NYC; Dear Whit) <P>
    Salinger reports on his recent very pleasant experience in Paris. Two paragraphs in the letter concern Salinger's meeting Ernest Hemingway overseas. Salinger speaks of Hemingway in completely positive terms. Continuing to consider Burnett's suggestion about a book of short stories, Salinger reports that he has written six. He mentions "Boy Standing in Tennessee" and "Two Lonely Men" positively. The three he is working on are "The Magic Fox Hole," "What Babe Saw, or Ooh-La-La!" and an untitled piece.

  • July 27 1945 (<A href="">Princeton University Library Hemmingway Collection</A>) <P>
    Salinger wrote a letter to Hemmingway.

  • 18 January 1969 (1 p., typed, c/o Harold Ober Associates, 40 East 49th Street, New York, N.Y. 10018; Dear Whit) <P>
    Sending this letter through his agent, Salinger writes to Burnett that he has "no fiction at hand, published or unpublished that I care to have anthologized."

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