Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Leonard, Elmore mss., 1970-1988, consist of papers of author and screenwriter Elmore "Dutch" Leonard, 1925-2013. Leonard was born in New Orleans, LA and settled eventually in Detroit, MI, a setting for many of his novels. He graduated from the University of Detroit in 1950 and spent the 1950s and 1960s writing pulp western stories and novels. (Two of those stories—The Tall T and 3:10 to Yuma - and one of those novels—Hombre—were adapted into movies.) Taking the advice of his agent, Harold "H.N." Swanson (1899-1991), to "forget the cowboy stuff and write stories with women in them," Leonard shifted to crime fiction. Novels like Mr. Majestyk (1974), 52 Pick-Up (1974), Swag (1976), The Hunted (1977), City Primeval (1980), Stick (1983), LaBrava (Edgar Award winner for Best Novel, 1984), Bandits (1987), and Freaky Deaky (1988) trace the evolution of Leonard's style from hard-boiled mystery-suspense to a seriocomic prose distinctively his own. Many of these works also were adapted to the screen, sometimes by Leonard himself (who was frequently dismayed by the results). Not turning his back completely on the Western genre, he also wrote during this period the screenplay for Joe Kidd (1972), starring Clint Eastwood, and contributed uncredited work for Posse (1975), starring and directed by Kirk Douglas.

The collection is organized into the following series: I. Correspondence; II. Publishing Materials; III. Legal Documents.

Correspondence consists mainly of letters from Elmore Leonard to H.N Swanson and relate to Leonard's writing career, pitches to publishers, and screenplay contracts. Also included are photocopies of Leonard's letters to various producers, managers, and actors (such as Kirk Douglas, Clint Eastwood, and Burt Reynolds) involved in the film adaptations of his novels. Correspondents include Jon Gibson, Marc Jaffe, Eileen Kent, Paul Newman, and H.N. Swanson.

Publishing materials include Swanson's copies of newspaper clippings, reviews, ad copy, press releases, and typed revisions pertaining to writings by Elmore Leonard. Legal documents consist of contracts, copyright assignments, and agreements pertaining to novels and screenplays by Elmore Leonard.

An inventory is available.

Acquired: 2011

Collection size: 200 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.