Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Lish mss., 1951-2012, consist of the correspondence, manuscripts, and papers of editor, writer, and teacher Gordon Lish, 1934-. Lish was born and raised in Hewlett, New York, and graduated from the University of Arizona. He became founder and editor of the avant-garde literary magazine Genesis West, and went on to serve as editor for Esquire from 1969-1977 and Alfred A. Knopf from 1977-1995. Known as "Captain Fiction," Lish mentored and championed several of the most prominent American authors of the second half of the 20th century, including Raymond Carver, Don DeLillo, Cynthia Ozick, Barry Hannah, James Dickey, Richard Ford, Amy Hempel, and T. Coraghessan Boyle. Lish is the author of Dear Mr. Capote, Peru, What I Know So Far, and other literary works. He is renowned for his writing seminars, held at many universities across the country as well as the Center for Fiction in New York City.

The collection is organized into the following series: I. Correspondence; II. Writings; III. Newspaper Clippings; IV. Photographs; V. Artwork; VI. Legal; VII. Realia; VIII. Audio-Visual. IX. Miscellaneous.

Correspondence is divided into Individual, General, Additional, Personal, and Esquire. Individual correspondents include: Rick Bass; Ann Beattie; Saul Bellow; Harold Bloom; Paul Bowles; Kay Boyle; T. Coraghessan Boyle; Harold Brodkey; William F. Buckley; Kenneth Burke; Anne Carson; Raymond Carver; Carolyn Cassady; John Cheever; Don DeLillo; James Dickey; Norman Thomas di Giovanni; Richard Ford; Bruce Jay Friedman; John Gardner; George Garrett; Barry Hannah; Joseph Heller; Mary Hemingway; Amy Hempel; John Irving; Ken Kesey; Stanley Kubrick; Alexander Lehmann-Haupt; Peter Lish; Mary McCarthy; Norman Mailer; Bernard Malamud; Terrence Malick; David Milch; Arthur Miller; Henry Miller; Wright Morris; Vera Nabakov; Richard Nixon; Joyce Carol Oates; Cynthia Ozick; Philip Roth; Susan Sontag; Alexander Theroux; Paul Theroux; Peter Theroux; Hunter S. Thompson; Michael Tolkin; Robert Penn Warren; Tom Wolfe.

Writings are divided into Other Authors, Gordon Lish, and Additional. The Other Authors subseries includes original drafts and proofs from the works of Carver, DeLillo, and numerous other notable authors. Within Lish's own subseries are proofs of the publication The Quarterly. Photographs include pictures of Lish, Raymond Carver, James Dickey, and Neal Cassady. Legal records include court transcripts and filings of Lish v. Harper's (1992), and a book agreement between Raymond Carver and McGraw-Hill. Audio-Visual materials include a videotape of Lish's appearance on The Dick Cavett Show and audiotapes of students in Lish's writing classes. The Miscellaneous series includes materials from Lish's writing workshop, and a list of Lish's published writings (1956-1987).

An inventory and a finding aid are available.

Acquired: 1991

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.