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Maxwell Bodenheim Collection


Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Bodenheim, Maxwell, 1893-1954

Maxwell Bodenheim was an American poet and novelist who was known as the "King of Greenwich Village Bohemians." His writing brought him international fame during the Jazz Age of the 1920s. He began publishing his earliest verse in Poetry Magazine in 1914, and over the next ten years, he established himself as a leading American author. His poetry books include Minna and Myself (1918), The King of Spain (1928), Bringing Jazz! (1930) and Selected Poems 1914-1944 (1946). His novels include Blackguard (1923), Ninth Avenue (1926), and A Virtuous Girl (1930). However, Bodenheim deteriorated rapidly after his success in the 1920s and 1930s. Before he married his second wife, Grace, he had become a panhandler. His third wife, Ruth, was 28 years his junior. She lived with him in his derelict lifestyle. They were homeless and slept on park benches. Bodenheim and Ruth were eventually murdered by a 25-year-old sociopath dishwasher, Harold Weinberg, whom they befriended on the streets of the Village.

The collection Consists chiefly of correspondence of the American poet and novelist Maxwell Bodenheim. Included are eleven letters to the author and editor Harry Hansen, primarily regarding the publishing of essays and poems of Bodenheim. There is also a letter from Bodenheim to Walter Winchell, the American newspaper and radio commentator. Also included are two signed typescript poems by Bodenheim. The first is an unpublished work titled "Street Level Jazz" (2 pp.), and the second, titled "To Noel Coward," may have been the one referred to in Bodenheim's letter to Winchell.

In addition, there is a letter from Roy J. Snell to Harry Hansen about Bodenheim. A second letter from Edward T. De Voe to Hansen, dated August 30, 1955, requests information about Bodenheim.

The collection was formed as a result of a Departmental practice of combining into one collection material of various accessions relating to a particular person, family, or subject.

The poem "Street Level Jazz" was a gift of Lew Ney in , Jan. 1948.

The rest of the material was purchased on March 1, 1999. Various AM.

This collection was processed by Dina Britain on April 24, 2009. Finding aid written by Lauren Kustner on April 28, 2009. Folder Inventory added by Hilde Creager (2015) in 2012.

No appraisal information is available.

Manuscripts Division
Finding Aid Date
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Collection Inventory

2 Letters from Maxwell Bodenheim to "Noel Coward", "Street-Level Jazz", undated. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Letter from Edward De Voe to Harry Hansen, 1955 August 30. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

11 Letters from Maxwell Bodenheim to Harry Hansen, 1923-1924. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Letter from Roy J. Snell to Harry Hansen, 1954 February 23. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Letter from Maxwell Bodenheim to Walter Winchell, undated. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

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