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Jennie Skerl Paul Bowles 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

American Beat scholar Jennie Skerl served as the associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at West Chester University. She is also a founding board member and former President of the Beat Studies Association (founded December 2004). She met Paul Bowles in May 1985 when she visited his home in Tangier, Morocco, where he hosted "open-house" style social gatherings each evening. Skerl's publications include

William S Burroughs (1985), William S. Burroughs at the Front: Critical Reception, 1959-1989 (co-editor, 1991), A Tawdry Place of Salvation: The Art of Jane Bowles (1997), and Reconstructing the Beats (2004).

"Jennie Skerl." European Beat Studies Network. (accessed February 19, 2013). Additional biographical material derived from the collection.

The Jennie Skerl Paul Bowles collection contains correspondence from Paul Bowles to American Beat scholar Jennie Skerl, as well as additional correspondence, notes, and transcripts of interviews about Bowles's life, work, and Tangier literary circle.

The collection contains eight letters and two postcards from Bowles to Skerl. The early letters indicate that Skerl had planned and completed a trip to Tangier during which she met Bowles and spent several evenings at his home, where she watched him entertain guests and informally interviewed him. The collection includes Skerl's notes of her recollections of these visits, which she had been required to compose after leaving Bowles's home, as he had declined to give formal interviews.

Also present in the collection is correspondence between Skerl and other individuals regarding Bowles and the Tangier literary circle. Correspondents include Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Bowles biographer Gena Dagel Caponi, Ned Rorem, and Gore Vidal.

Copies of transcripts of interviews conducted by Caponi in preparation for

Paul Bowles: Romantic Savage (1994) are also included; the interviews were conducted between 1984 and 1987 with individuals who had known Paul and Jane Bowles personally: Aaron Copeland (1900-1990); Virgil Thomson (1896-1989); David Diamond (1915-2005); Maurice Grosser (1903-1986); and Oliver Smith (1918-1994). The collection also contains two items related to Jane Bowles: a playbill for a 1993 production of Jane Bowles' In the Summer House and the playbill insert which features several reminiscences about Jane Bowles by fellow artists and writers including Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs.

  1. Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes (1 inch)

Gift of Jennie Skerl, December 2011, and May, 2014.

Processed and encoded by Elyse Brown, February 2013. Updated by Dustin Frohlich, August 2016.

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2013 February 19
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, University of Delaware Library,

Collection Inventory

Paul Bowles letters to Jennie Skerl, 1984-1988.
Box 1 Folder F1
Scope and Contents

Eight letters and two postcards; many of the letters include the original airmail envelope. The letters concerned Skerl's trip to Tangier, questions for Bowles about his work, and Bowles's reactions to Skerl's work.

Physical Description

11 items

Jennie Skerl interviews with Paul Bowles in Tangier, 1985 May 24 and 29.
Box 1 Folder F2
Scope and Contents

Typed notes written by Skerl, recording her recollections after her visits to Bowles's apartment in Tangier. Bowles hosted social gatherings at his home each evening on an "open house" basis.

Physical Description

2 items

Ferlinghetti, Lawrence, 1985 September 16.
Box 1 Folder F3
Scope and Contents

Date from Ferlinghetti's mailed City Lights envelope; he wrote his reply on Skerl's letter she had sent to him.

Caponi, Gena Dagel, 1985-1986.
Box 1 Folder F3
Scaramelli, Richard A., 1988 July 11.
Box 1 Folder F3
Rorem, Ned, 1997 October 2.
Box 1 Folder F3
Vidal, Gore, 1998 April 2.
Box 1 Folder F3

Scope and Contents

Copies of transcripts of interviews conducted by Bowles's biographer, Gena Dagel Caponi (Tabery), with individuals who knew Paul and Jane Bowles.

Letter from Dagel Caponi to Skerl, 1987 June 24.
Box 1 Folder F4
Copeland, Aaron, 1984 October 3.
Box 1 Folder F4
Diamond, Dave, 1984 October 5.
Box 1 Folder F4
Grosser, Maurice, 1984 October 5.
Box 1 Folder F4
Thomson, Virgil, 1984 October 1.
Box 1 Folder F4
Smith, Oliver, 1985 March.
Box 1 Folder F4

Playbill for In the Summer House by Jane Bowles, 1993.
Box 1 Folder F5
Scope and Contents

Playbill for performance at Lincoln Center Theater at the Vivian Beaumont in July 1993. Includes insert featuring remarks about Jane Bowles by several friends and contemporaries.

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