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Donald Barthelme Literary Papers


Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Finding Aid/Inventory

Works by Barthelme


Material about Barthelme and His Works

Writing Career



Students' Works

Works by Others

Clip Art Books

Editorial Career


Contact us about this collection

Donald Barthelme Literary Papers, 1956-2001 | University of Houston Libraries

By Julie Grob

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Collection Overview

Title: Donald Barthelme Literary Papers, 1956-2001

ID: 03/2002-007

Primary Creator: Barthelme, Donald

Extent: 30.0 Boxes

Subjects: 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

Forms of Material: Correspondence, Galley proofs, Page proofs, Typescripts

Scope and Contents of the Materials

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 (http://archon.lib.uh.edu/?p=collections/controlcard&id=258)

The book collection from Donald Barthelme's personal library. (http://library.uh.edu/search~S11?/tdonald+barthelme+literary+papers/tdonald+barthelme+literary+papers/1%2C2%2C98%2CB/exact&FF=tdonald+barthelme+literary+papers&1%2C97%2C)

Biographical Note

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.

Subject/Index Terms

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

Administrative Information

Repository: University of Houston Libraries

Access Restrictions: Open for research.

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 Source: This collection was acquired in 2002 from Marion Barthelme.

Acquisition Method: 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 (http://archon.lib.uh.edu/?p=collections/controlcard&id=258)

The book collection from Donald Barthelme's personal library. (http://library.uh.edu/search~S11?/tdonald+barthelme+literary+papers/tdonald+barthelme+literary+papers/1%2C2%2C98%2CB/exact&FF=tdonald+barthelme+literary+papers&1%2C97%2C)

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

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Works by Barthelme, [1959]-1990],
[Series 2: Correspondence, 1958-1997],
[Series 3: Material about Barthelme and His Works, 1951-2001],
[Series 4: Writing Career, 1972-1997],
[Series 5: Photographs, 1979-1988],
[Series 6: Miscellaneous, 1960-2005],
[Series 7: Students' Works, 1983-1989],
[Series 8: Works by Others, 1975-1989],
[Series 9: Clip Art Books, 1956-1992],
[Series 10: Editorial Career, 1972],
[Series 11: Videocassette],

Series 2: Correspondence, 1958-1997
Correspondence written to Donald Barthelme has been arranged alphabetically by the last name of the sender. Whenever a single correspondent had six or more letters in the collection, a separate folder was created. There is one folder of correspondence from Donald Barthelme to others.
Box 11
Folder 1: Roger Angell, 1977-1987 and undated
Folder 2: A, 1975-1987 and undated
Folder 3: John Barth, 1969-1986 and undated
Folder 4: Donald Barthelme, 1971-1989 and undated
Folder 5: Ann Beattie, 1980-1988 and undated
Folder 6: Kay Boyle, 1981-1985
Folder 7: Karen Braziller, 1978-1985 and undated
Folder 8: B, 1972-1986 and undated
Folder 9: Kenneth Cavander, 1979-1980
Folder 10: Arthur A. Cohen, 1978-1986 and undated
Folder 11: Maggie Curran, 1978-1980
Folder 12: Maggie Curran, 1981-1987
Folder 13: C, 1972-1988
Folder 14: Arthur C. Danto, 1984-1986
Folder 15: Da-Di, 1965-1988 and undated
Folder 16: Do-Dz, 1979-1989
Folder 17: E, 1978-1988 and undated
Folder 18: June Fortress, 1975-1980
Folder 19: Marianne Frisch, 1979-1982 and undated
Folder 20: F, 1975-1983 and undated
Folder 21: David Gates, 1976-1980 and undated
Folder 22: Philip Graham, 1978-1982
Folder 23: G, 1974-1988 and undated
Folder 24: Shelby Hearon, 1977-1982 and undated
Folder 25: Oscar Hijuelos, 1981-1985 and undated
Folder 26: Ha-He, 1976-1988 and undated
Folder 27: Hi-Hz, 1974-1988 and undated
Folder 28: I-J, 1966-1984 and undated
Folder 29: Anna Kolyszko, 1981-1984
Folder 30: K, 1975-1989 and undated
Folder 31: Jim Love, 1979-1987 and undated
Folder 32: Beverly Lowry, 1978-1981
Folder 33: L, 1975-1997 and undated
Box 12
Folder 1: Larry McCaffery, 1979-1981
Folder 2: Margaret Mills, 1978-1986
Folder 3: Mc-Ma, 1974-1988 and undated
Folder 4: Me-Mz, 1975-1987 and undated
Folder 5: Cameron and Donna Northouse, 1979-1988 and undated
Folder 6: J.D. O'Hara, 1980-1981 and undated
Folder 7: Stathis Orphanos, 1979-1983
Folder 8: N-O, 1974-1985 and undated
Folder 9: Grace Paley, undated
Folder 10: Walker Percy, 1965-1987
Folder 11: James Pickering, 1981-1987
Folder 12: Padgett Powell, 1982-1988 and undated
Folder 13: P, 1973-1989 and undated
Folder 14: Q-R, 1974-1988 and undated
Folder 15: Ralph B. Sipper, 1978-1980
Folder 16: Roger Straus, 1974-1982 and undated
Folder 17: Sa-Sm, 1977-1986 and undated
Folder 18: So-Sz, 1969-1987 and undated
Folder 19: Marshall Terry, 1979-1981 and undated
Folder 20: T, 1974-1987
Folder 21: U-V, 1974-1988 and undated
Folder 22: Wa-Wh, 1958-1986 and undated
Folder 23: Wi-Wz, 1976-1990 and undated
Folder 24: Herb Yellin, 1978-1979 and undated
Folder 25: X-Y-Z, 1978-1988
Folder 26: From Large Group, 1979-1982 and undated
Folder 27: First Names Only, A-M, 1976-1988 and undated
Folder 28: First Names Only, N-Z, 1978-1985 and undated
Folder 29: Inclusions to Letters
Folder 30: Unidentified, 1968-1987 and undated

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Works by Barthelme, [1959]-1990],
[Series 2: Correspondence, 1958-1997],
[Series 3: Material about Barthelme and His Works, 1951-2001],
[Series 4: Writing Career, 1972-1997],
[Series 5: Photographs, 1979-1988],
[Series 6: Miscellaneous, 1960-2005],
[Series 7: Students' Works, 1983-1989],
[Series 8: Works by Others, 1975-1989],
[Series 9: Clip Art Books, 1956-1992],
[Series 10: Editorial Career, 1972],
[Series 11: Videocassette],

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