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Richard Hoffman - August Wilson 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 August Wilson (1945-2005) was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Wilson's dramatic work explores the black experience in twentieth-century America and is perhaps best known for the series of ten plays that portray the African-American life set specifically in Wilson's own Hill District of Pittsburgh in each decade of the twentieth century. Called The Pittsburgh Cycle (alternatively, the Century Cycle), this series of plays include some of his most critically acclaimed works, including

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (the only one of the cycle not set in Pittsburgh), which was performed on Broadway in 1984; Fences (1985), The Piano Lesson (1989), and Joe Turner's Come and Gone (1986).

Wilson dropped out of school at the age of sixteen and began educating himself at the public library. He became active in theater after founding a theater company in Pittsburgh in 1968 called Black Horizons on the Hill with fellow playwright Rob Penny. Wilson's many honors and awards include two Pulitzer Prizes (for

Fences and The Piano Lesson ), a Tony award (for Fences ), a National Humanities Medal (1999), Rockefeller and Guggenheim fellowships in playwriting, and several New York Drama Critics' Circle awards.

Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2004, reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: The Gale Group. 2004. "Biographical Sketch of August Wilson."August Wilson Center for African American Culture., accessed October 20, 2010.

The Richard Hoffman - August Wilson Collection consists of two playbills and one poster from stage productions of African-American playwright August Wilson's plays

Seven Guitars , King Hedley II , and Joe Turner's Come and Gone spanning the dates between 1988 and 1999. Included are programs from the Walter Kerr Theatre production of Seven Guitars , one playbill from Boston University's Huntington Theatre Company production of King Hedley II , and a theater poster of Joe Turner's Come and Gone from the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in New York, signed by Wilson.

  1. Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes (1 inch)
  2. Removals: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize boxes (32 inches)

Purchase, 2005.

Processed by Karalee Kopreski, October 2005. Encoded by Jillian Kuzma, January 2009. Updated by Maureen Cech, November 2010.

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2010 October 22
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,

Collection Inventory

Seven Guitars playbill, 1996.
Box 1 Folder F1
Scope and Contents

Issue of

Playbill , volume 96, issue 3, featuring Seven Guitars performed at the Walter Kerr Theatre. The production was directed by Lloyd Richards and features Keith David. Opening night, March 28, 1996. 2 copies. Physical Description


King Hedley II playbill, possibly 1999.
Box 1 Folder F1
Scope and Contents

Playbill for performance by Boston University’s Huntington Theatre Company. Directed by Marion Isaac McClinton.

Joe Turner's Come and Gone theater poster, [1988].
Box 1 Folder F2
Scope and Contents

Ethel Barrymore Theatre, New York City, [March 1988]; signed by August Wilson.

Physical Location

Removed to SPEC MSS oversize boxes (32 inches)

Print, Suggest