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Indiana University Bloomington

August 21, 2013

Elmore Leonard at the Lilly Library

Filed under: In the news,Manuscripts — Craig Simpson @ 8:53 am

A small, interesting collection of author Elmore Leonard’s papers (http://purl.dlib.indiana.edu/iudl/findingaids/lilly/InU-Li-VAC2547) is available for research use at the Lilly Library. Leonard, who passed away at the age of 87 on Aug. 20, 2013, revolutionized the crime fiction genre (which had become grim and heavy-handed) with his distinctively snappy dialogue and fast-paced, often comedic storylines in novels like Get Shorty, Rum Punch, Freaky Deaky, Out of Sight, and LaBrava (winner of the 1984 Edgar Award). Many of these works were adapted into notable feature films, sometimes by Leonard himself. Late in his career, he turned to writing and producing TV drama with the successful “backwoods noir” series Justified.

The Leonard, Elmore mss. contain materials from the crucial period of 1970-1988, when Leonard transformed himself from a writer of Westerns into a crime novelist. Correspondence includes letters from Leonard recounting his struggles (“I’ve been getting by… on the strength of style and characterization in lieu of a good story… So what I’m going to do now is plot better stories. I’ll show ‘em.”) and eventual successes to his literary agent H.N. Swanson; letters from Leonard to Clint Eastwood, Kirk Douglas, and Burt Reynolds concerning their respective screen adaptations (Joe Kidd, Posse, Stick) of Leonard’s work; as well as a letter from Paul Newman, who starred in the movie adaptation of Leonard’s novel Hombre, regarding the author’s script The Hunted. Publishing materials include ad copy, press releases, and a rejection notice from Random House. Legal documents include contracts, copyright assignments, and agreements.

-Craig Simpson, Lilly Library Manuscripts Archivist

Excerpt from a letter from Elmore Leonard to his literary agent H.N. Swanson, dated September 31, 1981.

Excerpt from a letter from Elmore Leonard to his literary agent H.N. Swanson, dated September 31, 1981.

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