Donald Barthelme Literary Papers, 1956-2001
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Brief Description:

This collection contains typescript drafts, galley proofs, and page proofs of Donald Barthelme's novels, collected works, short stories, and other writings, plus collages and collage stories created by Barthelme. One of the richest aspects of the collection is the large set of letters and cards from Barthelme's writing friends and colleagues. The collection also includes about a dozen photographs of Barthelme. In addition, material related to Barthelme's teaching career is incorporated, notably student works that Barthelme received during his years in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston.

Each series is prefaced by a detailed description.

Related Materials:

Donald Barthelme "Forum" Collection (

The book collection from Donald Barthelme's personal library. (

Held at:
University of Houston Libraries
M.D. Anderson Library
4333 University Drive
Houston, TX 77204 2000
Phone: 713-743-9750
Email: cdkelleher [at]
Record Series Number: 03/2002-007
Created by: Barthelme, Donald
Volume: 30.0 Boxes
Biographical Note for Barthelme, Donald :

Donald Barthelme was born in Philadelphia in 1931 to parents Donald Barthelme Sr. and Helen (Bechtold) Barthelme. In 1932, the family moved to Houston, where Donald Barthelme Sr. developed an architectural practice and taught at the University of Houston and Rice University. Barthelme had four younger siblings: Joan (born 1932), Peter (born 1938), Frederick (born 1943), and Steven (born 1947).

Barthelme enrolled at the University of Houston in 1949, where he took courses in journalism, literature, creative writing, and philosophy. He became a reporter, critic, and editor for the school's newspaper, The Cougar.

In July 1951, he left the University of Houston for a job at the Houston Post, where he reviewed movies, plays, and concerts. From July 1953 to December 1954 he served in Korea, writing for the 2nd Infantry Division's official publication. Following his return to Houston, Barthelme took a public relations job at the University of Houston. There he founded and became editor of the interdisciplinary journal Forum. In 1961, Barthelme became acting director of the Contemporary Arts Museum. The following year he moved to New York City to edit a new journal of art and literature called Location.

In 1961, Barthelme's short story "The Darling Duckling at School" (later renamed "Me and Mrs. Mandible") appeared in the journal Contact. Inspired by Samuel Beckett, Barthelme rejected the constraints of traditional plot, setting, and character development in favor of verbal collages full of absurdity and wit. In 1963, Barthelme published the story "L'lapse" in the New Yorker, quickly becoming a regular contributor.

In 1964 Barthelme released his first collection of stories, Come Back, Dr. Caligari. From that point on, he stayed at the forefront of American literature for three decades. Barthelme published nine more story collections, and 129 stories and "casuals" in the New Yorker. Always innovative, he created "collage stories" that combined images and text, and "dialogue stories" in which two disembodied voices alternate in conversation. He also published three novels - Snow White, The Dead Father, and Paradise. In 1972 he released a children's book, The Slightly Irregular Fire Engine, winning the National Book Award for Children's Literature.

Barthelme remains best known for Sixty Stories, a 1981 anthology of his finest work from the sixties and seventies. Sixty Stories was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in 1982.

Donald Barthelme taught creative writing at City College in New York from 1974-75. In 1979, he was invited to teach in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston. Initially he taught in Houston one semester a year, while continuing to live in New York City. In 1983, Barthelme moved to Houston to become a full-time professor. A beloved teacher, he eventually became director of the Creative Writing Progam, a position he held until his death.

Access Restrictions: Open for research.
Subject Index
Angell, Roger
Authors, American - 20th century
Authors - 20th century
Barthelme, Donald
Beattie, Ann
Love, Jim, 1927-2005
Lowry, Beverly
New Yorker (New York, N.Y. : 1925)
O'Hara, J. D. (James Donald)
Paley, Grace
Percy, Walker, 1916-1990
Powell, Padgett
Short stories, American
University of Houston - Faculty
University of Houston. Creative Writing Program
Genres/Forms of Material
Galley proofs
Page proofs
Rights/Use Restrictions:

Special Collections owns the physical items in our collections, but copyright normally belongs to the creator of the materials or their heirs. The researcher has full responsibility for determining copyright status, locating copyright holders, and abiding by current copyright laws when publishing or displaying copies of Special Collections material in print or electronic form. For more information, consult the appropriate librarian.

Photocopy decisions will be made by Special Collections staff on a case-by-case basis. Patrons are responsible for obtaining permission to publish from copyright holders.

Acquisition Notes: This collection was acquired in 2002 from Marion Barthelme.  A few miscellaneous items already owned by the University of Houston Libraries were added to the collection. Typescripts of the short stories "City Life," "City Life II," and "A Dream" were purchased from Joseph the Provider Books in the 1980s. Four typescripts of Donald Barthelme's Paris Review interview, one proof sheet of the interview introduction, and letters from George Plimpton and J.D. O'Hara were also purchased from Joseph the Provider Books in the 1980s. A speech on writers delivered at University of Houston in 1974 was purchased from Detering Book Gallery in 1979. The non-fiction piece "Woman is an imaginary being" was transferred from the Donald Barthelme Forum Collection. The Houston Chronicle article "Donald Barthelme: Serious Writer at Play" was donated by Michael Berryhill in 2005.
Related Materials:

Donald Barthelme "Forum" Collection (

The book collection from Donald Barthelme's personal library. (

PreferredCitation: Donald Barthelme Literary Papers, Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries