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Holly McGhee papers


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

Holly McGhee is New York City-based author, agent, editor, and founder of the children's literature agency, Pippin Properties, Inc.

McGhee was born in 1963 to Don and Gabrielle McGhee and grew up outside of Utica, NY. She has two sisters, Laurel McGhee and, fellow author, Alison McGhee.

McGhee graduated from Cornell University in 1985 and subsequently began her career in publishing. Before starting Pippin Properties, Inc., she worked in various roles at the American Bible Society; Harper & Row; Farrar, Straus & Giroux; and Michael di Capua Books, where she served as Associate Publisher and Executive Editor.

In 1988, McGhee established Pippin Properties, Inc., a boutique literary agency, which she founded as an independent literary agent. As of 2024, the all-woman agency grew to include five employees and agents. Pippin represents 188 children's book authors and artists and has brought over 812 works to publishers. It is based in Bryant Park, New York.

McGhee is also the author of several published children's books. Her earliest works were written under the pen name, Hallie Durand, including Matylda, Bright and Tender (2017), Come with Me (2017), Catch that Cookie! (2014), the Dessert trilogy (2011-2012), and the Mitchell series (2013). She wrote and published Listen (2019) and What the World Could Make (2021) as Holly McGhee.

The Holly McGhee papers measure 2.7 linear feet in four boxes and date from 1959 to 2018, with the bulk of the material dating between 1980 and 2018. The papers largely document McGhee's personal life, family, and career as a children's book author. McGhee's career as a book publisher is not well represented.

This collection is of value to researchers hoping to learn about McGhee's early career, her writing, and her family. It also represents publishing and editorial work is also documented through material from various phases of the publishing process of several of the children's books McGhee authored.

This collection is organized in four series, I. Youth and education; II. Family material; III. Author and writings; and IV. Other personal material.

Series I. Youth and education mostly contains McGhee's writings from elementary school through college at Cornell University from 1981 to 1985.

Series II. Family material contains the following subseries, a. Correspondence, b. "McGhee Family Chronicles," and c. Other family material.

The correspondence is mostly between Holly McGhee and members of her immediate and extended family. The letters between McGhee and her grandmother, Christine McGhee are notable as they offer insight into Holly McGhee's life and career between 1980 and 1999. These letters mostly consist of Christine McGhee's responses to Holly McGhee's letters (most of which are not included in the collection) which address Holly McGhee's early career at jobs including internships; the American Bible Society; Harper & Row; and Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. There are also letters referencing the first months of McGhee's publishing company, Pippin Properties.

The "McGhee Family Chronicles" consist of narrative-style typed documents that detail the lives of various members of McGhees' family and of newsletter-style family updates written by Holly McGhee or other family members that consist mostly of jokes, humor, and allusions that would likely be best understood by the family.

Series III. Author and writings documents the writing and publishing processes of several of McGhee's published children's books, including Catch that Cookie!, Come with Me, the Dessert trilogy, Matylda, Bright and Tender, and the Mitchell series. This material notably includes research and drafts, contracts, editorial notes and correspondence, editorial dummies, F&Gs (folded and gathered printing drafts), payments, advance reader's copies, and marketing and promotional material.

Series IV. Other personal material includes various certificates, non-family correspondence, documents, nametags, and a newspaper article about McGhee.

Sold by Gerald Cloud (Petaluma, CA), 2019, 2022, and 2023.

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Kelin Baldridge Smallwood
Finding Aid Date
2024 April 2
Access Restrictions

The bulk of this collection is open for research use, however, Box 2, Folders 1, 6, 16, 24, 50, 55, and 60 are restricted until 2100 due to the presence of banking and personally identifiable information.

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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"Definitions," typed list of words with their definitions, circa 1982.
Box 1 Folder 1
Notebook, picture dictionary, and "flying comets" files, undated.
Box 1 Folder 2
Notes on college papers, "Lorrie Moore" and "Joyce Carol Oates report for William Shinker", 1981-1982.
Box 1 Folder 3
Writings: "Cats and Mice" and "Ceylon", 1983.
Box 1 Folder 4
Writings: "College writings", 1981-circa 1986.
Box 1 Folder 5
Writings: elementary school, circa 1970s.
Box 1 Folder 6
Writings: "Darwin for Myself", circa 1982.
Box 1 Folder 7
Writings: "Drink Up Angel" typed annotated draft, 1982, circa 1984.
Box 1 Folder 8
Writings: "Fight Again" and "George", 1982-1983.
Box 1 Folder 9
Writings: "The Krumine Spies" and "The Love of Chair (story about how dad made us wrestle)", circa 1983, circa 1986.
Box 1 Folder 10
Writings: "The Mealworm" and "Mrs. Ernest", 1982-1983.
Box 1 Folder 11
Writings: Newspaper articles by Holly McGhee, 1985.
Box 1 Folder 12
Writings: "On Calendars and Comforters" typed drafts, 1986.
Box 1 Folder 13
Writings: "Pharaoh," "Pick Through Gram's," and "Pago", 1982, 1984.
Box 1 Folder 14
Writings: "Remember the Porcupine Box", 1982 October.
Box 1 Folder 15
Writings: "The Rise and Fall of the Noble and Holy Order of the Knights of Labor", 1980.
Box 1 Folder 16
Writings: "The Sandbar," "Shoes Die Too," "The Site of the Ee's," " The Star Rider," and "The Stray Cat", 1982, 1984.
Box 1 Folder 17
Writings: "The Tin Cans" typed annotated drafts, 1982-1983.
Box 1 Folder 18
Writings: "The Tradeoffs of Purity" and "To Humans with Euphoria, from Sapunko with Salvation", 1982, 1985.
Box 1 Folder 19
Writings: "Woodchucks" typed annotated draft, circa 1982.
Box 1 Folder 20

Aunt Marcia to Holly McGhee, 1983, 1987, 1991, 1994.
Box 1 Folder 21
Brewer, Louise ["Weasie"] and William [aunt and uncle] to Holly McGhee, 1993-1994, 1997-1998.
Box 1 Folder 22
Brewer, Louise ["Weasie"] and William, from various others regarding memories of the Brewers for their 50th anniversary, 1998.
Box 1 Folder 23
Gray, Sara to Holly McGhee, 1981.
Box 1 Folder 24
Jerry and Myrna ["Jewish relatives"] to Holly McGhee, undated.
Box 1 Folder 25
Kirsch, George Elias, mostly to Gabrielle and Donald McGhee, 1959-1960.
Box 1 Folder 26
Kirsch, Reine ("Granny") to Holly McGhee, undated.
Box 1 Folder 27
McGhee, Christine ("Granny") from Holly McGhee, 1989, 1996-1999.
Box 1 Folder 28
McGhee, Christine ("Granny") to Holly McGhee, 1980-1999, undated.
Box 1 Folder 29-34
McGhee, Christine and ? (grandparents) to Holly McGhee, cards, undated.
Box 1 Folder 35
McGhee, Don (father) to Holly McGhee, 1995-1996, undated.
Box 1 Folder 36
McGhee, Don and Gabrielle (parents) to Holly McGhee ["Sag Harbor week"], 1973.
Box 1 Folder 37
McGhee, Don and Gabrielle (parents) to Holly McGhee, cards, 1974, 1981-1982, 1991-1997, 2002, 2005-2006, 2010-2013, 2015, 2018, undated.
Box 1 Folder 38
McGhee, Gabrielle (mother) to Holly McGhee, 1980-1985, 1988-1989, 1992-1995, undated.
Box 1 Folder 39-41
McGhee, Gabrielle from Tiara (Holly McGhee's friend), 1984.
Box 1 Folder 42
McGhee, Gabrielle to her parents, circa 1965.
Box 1 Folder 43
McGhee, "Granpa" to Holly McGhee, 1982, undated.
Box 1 Folder 44
O'Brien, Bill to Holly McGhee and Michael Steiner, circa 1999.
Box 1 Folder 45
Cards for Holly McGhee's birth, circa 1964.
Box 1 Folder 46
Charlotte Reine Steiner (Holly McGhee's daughter) diary, typed document documenting the first several years of Steiner's life, 1999-2008.
Box 1 Folder 47-48
Christmas memories, document with photographs and typed family stories, 2014.
Box 1 Folder 49
Grandpa McGhee story, typed document with photographs, undated.
Box 1 Folder 50
"Memories of a childhood in New York City," Gabrielle McGhee life story, undated.
Box 1 Folder 51
"The Steuber's Gazette," family newsletter [mostly jokes, humor, and allusions that would be best understood by the family], 1994, 1996-1999-2000, 2002-2004, 2006-2007, 2009-2015, 2017-2018.
Box 1 Folder 52-54
Wedding anniversaries, Gabrielle and Don McGhee, invitation, program, and letter, 1988, 1998.
Box 1 Folder 55
Writings by George Elias Kirsch (Holly McGhee's grandfather?), undated.
Box 1 Folder 56
Writings by Christine Hoffbell (Granny), memories, undated.
Box 1 Folder 57

Correspondence with editor, payments, and dust jacket sketch [RESTRICTED], 2012-2014, 2018.
Box 2 Folder 1
Editorial dummies with notes, 2012-2013.
Box 4 Folder 1
Catalog, Understanding Our World, 2018.
Box 2 Folder 2
Correspondence, Jen Besser (editor), Refugees International, Garret Weyr, Tony Yuli (New York Times), and a special mailings list, 2016-2017.
Box 2 Folder 3
Events, printed material, 2017-2018.
Box 2 Folder 4
F&G (folded and gathered, unbound printed version of a book) and correspondence regarding the F&G, 2017.
Box 2 Folder 5
Foreign license advances and documents [RESTRICTED], 2018.
Box 2 Folder 6
Marketing and publicity, plan and correspondence, 2017.
Box 2 Folder 7
Notes and pitch notecards, 2017.
Box 2 Folder 8
Promotional material, stuffed toys, undated.
Box 3 Folder 10
Writings about Yvette PierPaoli (Pascal Lemaître's mother who inspired the book), 1992, 2001.
Box 2 Folder 9-10
Writings, "The Story Behind Come with Me" by Holly McGhee and Pascal Lemaître, undated.
Box 2 Folder 11
Class visits, thank you notes [mostly Beeman Elementary School, Vermont], 2010.
Box 2 Folder 12
Contracts, 2007, 2012.
Box 2 Folder 13
"Fanmail", 2010-2011.
Box 2 Folder 14
Hutch magazine, photograph of Normana Schaff (muse for Mrs. Howdy Doody), recipes, and sketch by Louise Steiner McGhee, 2009, undated.
Box 2 Folder 15
Payments and royalties [RESTRICTED], 2010-2011.
Box 2 Folder 16
Research in classrooms, 2009.
Box 2 Folder 17
Dessert First: Advance reader's copy, 2009.
Box 2 Folder 18
Dessert First: Catalogs, 2009.
Box 2 Folder 19
Dessert First: Class visits, East Kingston Elementary School, welcome poster, 2009.
Box 4 Folder 2
Dessert First: Character studies, correspondence, and sketches, 2007.
Box 2 Folder 20
Dessert First: Correspondence from Joanna Cotler, Kate DiCamillo, and Karen Lotz, 2008-2009.
Box 2 Folder 21
Dessert First: Drafts, handwritten, 2007.
Box 2 Folder 22
Dessert First: "Marketing plan on acquisition" menu, 2009.
Box 2 Folder 23
Dessert First: Payments and royalties [RESTRICTED], 2010, 2016.
Box 2 Folder 24
Dessert First: Publication and launch [congratulatory notes and party baking contest], 2009.
Box 2 Folder 25
Dessert First: Research, 2007.
Box 2 Folder 26
Dessert First: Research in classrooms [mostly Jefferson Elementary School], 2009.
Box 2 Folder 27
Just Desserts: Sketch by Louise Steiner McGhee and "inspiration from Holly's scrapbooks", 2010.
Box 2 Folder 28
No Room for Dessert: Contracts, 2009.
Box 2 Folder 29
No Room for Dessert: Correspondence, Steve McQuade, 2011.
Box 2 Folder 30
No Room for Dessert: Dust jacket proofs, 2011.
Box 2 Folder 31
No Room for Dessert: Research in Jefferson Elementary School classroom, 2009-2010.
Box 2 Folder 32
No Room for Dessert: Research on Thomas Edison, 2009.
Box 2 Folder 33
Annotated drafts, circa 1986, 1992.
Box 2 Folder 34
Drafts, 1996.
Box 2 Folder 35
Advance reader's copies and marketing plan document, 2019.
Box 2 Folder 36
Advance reader's copy, 2017.
Box 2 Folder 37
Class visits, Remsen School, student sketches, 2018.
Box 4 Folder 3
Copy edited manuscript with notes, undated.
Box 2 Folder 38
Correspondence, editorial, Kathi Appelt and Joanna Cotler, 2014.
Box 2 Folder 39
Correspondence, "encouragement from David Small, Kathy Nuzum, and Jenny Brown", 1998, 2008, 2013.
Box 2 Folder 40
Correspondence, Laurel McGhee (sister) including "Flower Gypsy" story and notes by Alison McGhee (sister), circa 1980s, 1989, 2009.
Box 2 Folder 41
Correspondence, "notes of admiration," Doreen Cronin, Caitlyn Dlouny, Elena Giovinazzo, and Garret Weyr, 2016-2017.
Box 2 Folder 42
Drafts ["early strands," "bits that fed the book," and "story that became a part of it", circa 1980s, 1985, 1998, 2012, undated.
Box 2 Folder 43
Dust jacket, painting by Diana Cotler, 2016.
Box 2 Folder 44
Ephemera, 2017.
Box 2 Folder 45
"Inspiration", 2011, 2016.
Box 2 Folder 46
Notes, 2014.
Box 2 Folder 47
Notes, Joanna Cotler, first reader, 2014, 2016.
Box 2 Folder 48
Notes, Joanna Cotler, first reader, first draft, 2014.
Box 4 Folder 4
Notes, "Paul Austen talk at Maplewood Library" and "from editors/possible editors", 2015.
Box 2 Folder 49
Payments and advances [RESTRICTED], 2015, 2017.
Box 2 Folder 50
Pippin Properties keepsake book, 2017.
Box 3 Folder 11
Research on geckos, circa 2016.
Box 2 Folder 51
Sketch by Louise Steiner McGhee, "inspiration", undated.
Box 2 Folder 52
Study guide and student workbook, undated.
Box 2 Folder 53
Catalog, Candlewick Press, 2013.
Box 2 Folder 54
Payments, contract, and advance due on signing [RESTRICTED], 2015-2016.
Box 2 Folder 55
Mitchell Goes Bowling: Correspondence, Karen Lotz ["editorial back and forth"], 2012.
Box 2 Folder 56
Mitchell Goes Bowling: Dust jacket sketch idea, 2012.
Box 2 Folder 57
Mitchell Goes Bowling: Editorial dummies with notes, 2012.
Box 4 Folder 5-6
Mitchell Goes Bowling: Notes and edits, 2011.
Box 2 Folder 58
Mitchell Goes Bowling: Notes and research ["at Hanover Lanes, New Jersey"], circa 2010-2011.
Box 2 Folder 59
Mitchell's License: Contract and advance due on signing [RESTRICTED], 2008.
Box 2 Folder 60
Mitchell's License: Correspondence regarding dummy with illustration from "Nicole", circa 2010.
Box 2 Folder 61
Mitchell's License: Correspondence from Karen Lotz including a sketch of the original Mitchell, undated.
Box 2 Folder 62
"Ode to a Grecian God," poem and note, 1990.
Box 3 Folder 1
Poem drafts "to FSG [Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux] colleagues" [including Charlie Anker, Mary Alice Moore, and Laurie Brom], circa 1989-1995.
Box 3 Folder 2
"What the World Could Make," first draft and notes by "Elena", 2018-2019.
Box 3 Folder 3

Certificates, Jury Service and the United Nations Association of the United States, 1981, undated.
Box 3 Folder 4
Correspondence, from "Kumiko" [Holly McGhee's 'friend from NYC internship"], 1983.
Box 3 Folder 5
Holly McGhee's rejection letter from Yaddo (artists' community), 2016 March 15.
Box 3 Folder 6
"Jungian analyst invoice" and "RIIKE photocopy from college" document, circa 1982, 2018.
Box 3 Folder 7
Nametags, 2004, undated.
Box 3 Folder 8
Newspaper article regarding McGhee's visit to Tuscan School, 2018 July 26.
Box 3 Folder 9

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