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Joseph Hergesheimer collection


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. 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

Joseph Hergesheimer (1880-1954) was a prominent American novelist and short story writer of the early 20th century born in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Having made an unsuccessful attempt at becoming a painter while studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Hergesheimer quickly took up writing after taking a proofreading job for the writer Adeline Kingscote (who published as "Lucas Cleeve"). Once decided upon his new career, he worked incessantly, completing many novels and stories in a short period of time, the most famous of these being The Lay Anthony (1914 - his first published novel), Three Black Pennys (1917), and Java Head (1919). Though it took some time for him to gain recognition, Hergesheimer eventually became quite popular, and was voted best contemporary author in 1922. His fame didn't last for long, however. His "aesthetic" style, as it is known, with its florid prose centering around upper class characters, began to lose favor with an increasingly disillusioned public facing the Great Depression and the World Wars. He published his last novel in 1936 and abandoned his aestheticism for an intense reading of history, philosophy, and religion. He died in 1954. For more information please see Victor E. Gimmestad's monograph, Joseph Hergesheimer.

Coming from a writer who published fourteen books in twenty years, this single box of nine folders represents a mere fraction of the papers Joseph Hergesheimer must have created. The first folder collects a few typed drafts of autobiographical material. One draft refers to Hergesheimer in the third person, but seems likely to have been written by him as well. The second contains a complete bibliography of Hergesheimer's works from the year of his death, as well as several inventories: "Books by Joseph Hergesheimer at Biddle Street," a list of Hergesheimer's magazine publications, and a few lists of books owned by Dorothy Hergesheimer which include works of her husband as well as H. L. Mencken. The third folder contains a single sheet of Hergesheimer's reminiscences of writer James Branch Cabell. The five folders of fragmentary notebooks provide a small window into Hergesheimer's working method, preserving handwritten drafts for a variety of texts, including stories, poetry, and recollections of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Many loose pages appear mixed in with bound notebooks and have been kept in the order in which they were found. Finally, the last folder contains correspondence with William McCarthy, who is responsible for bringing the collection to the University of Pennsylvania. Aside from one letter authored by Louisa Jessup, these were written by Hergesheimer's wife Dorothy.

Gift of William McCarthy, 1960.

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Ben Rosen
Finding Aid Date
2015 July 3
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Collection Inventory

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Autobiographies, undated.
Box 1 Folder 1
Bibliographies, 1954, 1956, undated.
Box 1 Folder 2
Cabell, James Branch, reminiscence by Hergesheimer, undated.
Box 1 Folder 3
Notebooks, undated.
Box 1 Folder 4-8
William McCarthy correspondence with Dorothy Hergesheimer and Louisa Jessup, 1956, undated.
Box 1 Folder 9

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