J.D. Salinger fans in need of a fix don’t have to wait to see what surfaces from his New Hampshire hideaway. These six libraries all hold unique Salinger archives, from never-published stories to caches of letters (like the one made public by the Morgan Library last week) that are often as charming and telling as his fiction. Here’s an itinerary, if you really want to read about it.
1. Firestone Library, Princeton University
What’s There: Five unpublished stories, plus correspondence.
Significance: The two best stories center on Holden Caulfield’s brother Vincent, including “The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls,” in which Vincent recounts the death of their precocious sibling Kenneth. They’re part of the archives of Story magazine, which includes chatty letters between Salinger and editor Whit Burnett.
The Rules: Visitors get copies, not originals. You have to wash your hands when you arrive. No photocopying; no cameras; no laptops; no pens.
2. Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin
What’s There: Four typed stories, two unpublished; letters.
Significance: One story, “Birthday Boy,” is about a young woman’s hospital visit to her alcoholic boyfriend, who begs her for “a lousy drop”; the other is an odd, untitled work about a mysterious pregnancy. All four typescripts include Salinger’s handwritten notes. There are also 38 lively letters to his confidante Elizabeth Murray.
The Rules: For a fee, they’ll make copies or e-mail PDFs.
3. The Harvard Law Library
What’s There: Seven letters from Salinger (1958–1961).
Significance: They’re among the papers of the prominent judge Learned Hand, Salinger’s New Hampshire neighbor and close friend.
The Rules: No photocopying.
4. New York Public Library
What’s There: The New Yorker’s archive.
Significance: In a note to fiction editor Gus Lobrano, Salinger lays out ‘The Catcher in the Rye,’ which has “turned into a real novel on me.” Another letter insists the mailroom forward neither clips nor reviews. Yet another addresses the riddle of Franny’s pregnancy.
The Rules: Researchers can request photocopies.
5. Library of Congress
What’s There: More mail, including duplicates of the Princeton, Harvard, and Texas letters.
Significance: In the mid-eighties, biographer Ian Hamilton tried to excerpt these revealing letters. Salinger sued and won—but to do so, he had to register them at the copyright office.
The Rules: No copying without permission from the Salinger estate.
6. Morgan Library
What’s There: Eleven letters to artist E. Michael Mitchell, some as recent as 1993.
Significance: One from 1966 mentions two stories—“books really—that I’ve been hoarding at and picking at for years.”
The Rules: They go on view shortly. After the exhibit, they’ll be available by appointment.
In the Stacks
Salinger published 22 stories—in magazines from Esquire to Cosmopolitan—that he never collected. All can be read at the NYPL or at deadcaulfields.com.