Richard Hoffman - Lorraine Hansberry collection
Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. 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
Brooklyn-based theater collector and book dealer Richard Hoffman built a number of literary collections around American playwrights over a period of many years.
Hoffman has said that he entered the United States Army in the 1950s as an actor and left as a writer. His military experience led to an assignment to create a television program titled "Your Army in View," which consisted of interviews and live drama. After his discharge from the service in 1955, Hoffman taught in the drama department of The City University of New York. During this period he was awarded a Eugene O'Neill fellowship for playwriting. He also began to seriously collect rare books and first editions of contemporary American dramatists, notably the playwrights Eugene O'Neill, Arthur Miller, and Neil Simon. Hoffman's interest in collecting first editions led to his career as an antiquarian book dealer.
American playwright Lorainne Hansberry (1930-1965) was born in Chicago, Illinois. She studied drama and stage design at the University of Wisconsin from 1948 to 1950 and then moved to New York to write for theFreedom newspaper. She was politically active in the Civil Rights movement by promoting social change and speaking against the oppression of African-Americans. In 1953, she married Robert Nemiroff, an aspiring writer whom she met on a picket line at New York University. Hansberry's play, A Raisin in the Sun , opened on Broadway in 1959 and won the New York Drama Critic's Circle Award, making her the youngest American, the first woman, and the first African-American to win the award.
In 1960, Hansberry wrote two screenplays ofA Raisin in the Sun that were not produced without significant alteration because they were deemed controversial. Her other plays include The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window , which opened on Broadway in 1964, Les Blancs , The Drinking Gourd , and What Use Are Flowers? , all published posthumously in 1972 under the title Les Blancs: The Collected Last Plays of Lorraine Hansberry.
In 1964, Hansberry and Nemiroff divorced, though they remained close and he became her literary executor when she succumbed to cancer in January 1965.
American National Biography.24 vols. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
The Richard Hoffman - Lorraine Hansberry collection spans the dates between 1959 and 1986 and comprises 17 items, including photographs, playbills, programs, a screenplay forA Raisin in the Sun , and articles related to The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window.
- Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes (1 inch)
Purchase, August 2005.
Processed by Karalee Kopreski, October 2005. Encoded by Jillian Kuzma, January 2009. Updated by Julia Pompetti, November 2010.
- University of Delaware Library Special Collections
- Finding Aid Author
- University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
- Finding Aid Date
- 2008 January 27
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research.
- Use Restrictions
Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library, https://library.udel.edu/static/purl.php?askspec
This series consists of the original version of Hansberry's screenplay ofA Raisin in the Sun that was altered significantly in order to be used for the 1961 Columbia studios film production. The title bears the autograph note in an unknown hand: "Unfilmed original screenplay by Hansberry. Different from published version."
This series comprises theater programs from several stage and screen productions ofA Raisin in the Sun and one musical adaptation, dating between 1959 and 1974.
A Raisin in the Sun. New York: Ethel Barrymore Theatre, 1959. Philip Rose and David J. Cogan present Sidney Poitier in A Raisin in the Sun : A New Play by Lorraine Hansberry; with Claudia McNeil, Ruby Dee … directed by Lloyd Reynolds.
A Raisin in the Sun. New York: Ethel Barrymore Theatre, 1959. Philip Rose and David J. Cogan present Sidney Poitier in A Raisin in the Sun: a new play by Lorraine Hansberry; with Claudia McNeil, Ruby Dee … directed by Lloyd Reynolds. Autographed on the cover by the entire cast: Ruby Dee, Ivan Dixon, Lonne Elder III, John Fiedler, Louis Gossett, Ed Hall, Claudia McNeil, Sidney Poitier, Diana Sands, Glynn Turman, and Douglas Turner.
Inside cover bears note "Ethel Barrymore Theatre, 6/20/59, NY." Includes biographies of the cast, the producers Philip Rose and David J. Cogan, and director Lloyd Richards. Also includes feature article about Hansberry, "A Playwright, A Promise" by Faye Hammel, reprinted courtesy ofCue Magazine .
Philip Rose and David J. Cogan present Claudia McNeil in New York Drama Critics’ Circle award-winning playa raisin in the sun by Lorraine Hansberry. Week beginning May 29, 1961. With autograph note signed by Claudia McNeil, 1974, laid in.
Columbia Pictures presents Sidney Poitier … with Claudia McNeil, Ruby Dee. Screenplay by Lorraine Hansberry from her play … produced by David Susskind and Philip Rose. Directed by Daniel Petrie.
Series III. contains 4 black-and-white photographs of cast members from various stage productions ofA Raisin in the Sun , including several from the original 1959 production.
On verso, "R102 - Please credit photo Friedman—Abeles 351 West 54th Street."
On verso, "R219 - Please credit photo Friedman—Abeles 351 West 54th Street."
On verso, "R211 - Please credit photo Friedman—Abeles 351 West 54th Street." Autographed "Ossie Davis to Joseph." Handwritten note on verso "6/2/86—Black Film Festival Party."
Autographed by all three actresses. On verso: "Rec'd 1-17-61.A Raisin in the Sun "
Series IV. consists of material relating to Lorraine Hansberry's literary reception and career, including a card autographed by Hansberry, clippings, and two letters from Hansberry's ex-husband and literary executor, Robert Nemiroff, addressed to Morris Schappes ofJewish Currents magazine.
With certificate of authenticity.
Regarding Hansberry's playThe Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window.
Editorial appreciation on the death of Hansberry.
Regarding Hansberry's playThe Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window.