Records. Series III., Blanche W. Knopf, 1918-1966 (bulk 1940-1966).

ArchivalResource

Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Records. Series III., Blanche W. Knopf, 1918-1966 (bulk 1940-1966).

Records. Series III., Blanche W. Knopf, 1918-1966 (bulk 1940-1966).

This series contains Blanche W. Knopf's correspondence files, which illuminate the perspective of a founding member and key administrator of the Knopf firm, and an important American woman in publishing. Although relatively small, the series highlights the most important authors of the Knopf collection, and also covers routine publishing business such as copyediting, payment of royalties and advances, syndication and reprint rights, productions costs, and sales figures. Important correspondents include Elizabeth Bowen, Albert Camus, Willa Cather, Kahlil Gibran, Langston Hughes, and Thomas Mann. Mrs. Knopf's correspondence with an individual writer discussed not only her or his own work, but that of other writers as well. For example, Carl Van Vechten, a close friend of the Knopfs, wrote to Blanche about the need for writing and publishing "on the Negro question," suggesting Langston Hughes, Walter White, and Richard Wright. Correspondence with Raymond Postgate is especially valuable for its detailed descriptions of publishing in the context of World War II. Mrs. Knopf also encouraged experts in their fields to write specific books and helped authors choose appropriate book titles. Documentation of some of Blanche Knopf's European and South American travels is located in files named "Trips," which are further broken down by destination. The files include lists of people Mrs. Knopf visited or intended to visit, correspondence about the writers, and occasional personal reflections on the trip. Her travels on behalf of the firm not only brought in a rich variety of writers, but often cemented personal relationships with authors, literary agents, artists, ambassadors, and other influential people. Handwritten and typed letters between Alfred and Blanche Knopf that reveal their working relationship can be found throughout the series. In this correspondence, they convey their opinions of various manuscripts, make plans for future business travel, and divide the responsibility of contacting authors to solicit their work. There are occasional personal remarks, such as Blanche Knopf's 1962 letter suggesting that she did not feel "whole," and feared she would not live much longer. A rare autobiographical account reveals Blanche Knopf's perspective on the founding years of the firm, and in particular, her intense frustration regarding Samuel Knopf's participation in the firm's business. Additionally, correspondence regarding important events such as the Knopfs' fiftieth wedding anniversary celebration, Mrs. Knopf's induction into the French Legion of Honor, and the honorary Doctorate of Letters she received from Franklin and Marshall College is located in this series.

12 boxes (5 linear feet).

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