James T. Farrell 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
James T. Farrell (1904-1979) was born to a struggling working class Irish-Catholic family in Chicago. As a young boy he was sent away to live with his grandparents to a different neighborhood in Chicago which, coupled with his parochial school education, set the tone for his writings throughout his lifetime. After enrolling in 1925 at the University of Chicago for pre-law, Farrell quickly showed a keen interest in the social sciences. However, by 1927 he decided it was his calling to be a fiction writer, drawing off of his experiences and newly formed social attitudes emulating John Dewey, Theodore Dreiser, and Leon Trotsky. Best known for his Studs Lonigan trilogy, a series of novels published between 1932 and 1935, Farrell portrays the life of a young Irish Catholic man growing up on the streets of Chicago. Brutally realistic, the Lonigan series is revered by many historians and sociologists as one of the most accurate portrayals of everyday life for urban Irish Catholics for the time period. Despite publishing over fifty works—in addition to other forms of writing—Farrell's acclaim never could grow past the shadow ofStuds Lonigan. Despite his struggles—both real and perceived—Farrell continued to produce an unprecedented amount of writing, as an author as well as a correspondent and philosopher. In addition to writing, Farrell was extremely engaged in politics and social activism as a member of the Socialist Workers Party (subsequently split to the Workers Party), as well as the American Committee for Cultural Freedom. Well after withdrawing from active participation, Farrell remained extremely lively in championing social causes which he demonstrated through personal correspondence and less formal writings. Farrell maintained an undying passion for the game of baseball throughout his life. In 1957 he published a collection of writings, My Baseball Diary; a second was published well after his death. Farrell was married three times and divorced twice. His first (and third) wife, Dorothy Butler Farrell was a University of Chicago student at the time of their meeting in 1928. In April of 1931 they were secretly married, immediately setting off on a ship for a year in Paris, France. In November their son Sean was born, but passed away after four days. Separation due to Dorothy's employment eventually led its way to infidelity, and in 1935 Farrell would meet his second wife, Hortense Alden, a Broadway actress. In June of 1940, Farrell and Dorothy were officially divorced, and several months later Hortense gave birth to their first son, Kevin. In January of 1941 they were married (Landers, An Honest Writer, 237). The autumn of 1947 brought their second son, John Steven, who showed severe signs of mental disability and by 1949 was sent to the Letchworth Village residential institution, where he passed away in 1994. In January of 1951, Kevin was sent away to boarding school in Massachusetts, and shortly afterward Farrell and Hortense divorced. By September 1955, he remarried Dorothy Butler. Financial hardship and accused infidelity on Dorothy's part with jazz violinist Leroy "Stuff" Smith, led to another separation in 1958—although they would never officially divorce. Two years later he met his secretary and final life partner Cleo Paturis, with whom he remained until his death on August 22, 1979.
This collection contains material purchased to supplement the James T. Farrell papers (Ms. Coll 886). It contains manuscripts and correspondence related to Farrell's writings for a column entitled "The World is To Day" for the periodicalPark East.
Sold by David J. Holmes Autographs, 2016
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Sam Allingham
- Finding Aid Date
- 2022 May 17
- 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.