Berger, Thomas (1924-2014)
Scope:

The Thomas Berger collection consists of manuscripts, diaries and journals, correspondence, printed material, audio material, research material, professional material, film and video, legal material, notebooks, financial material, photographs, memorabilia, scrapbooks, medical records, and artwork.

Manuscripts by Berger in the collection include novels, plays, short stories, screenplays, and articles, among other materials. Novels by Berger include Crazy in Berlin (1958); Reinhart in Love (1962); Little Big Man (1964); Killing Time (1967); Vital Parts (1970); Regiment of Women (1973); Sneaky People (1975); Arthur Rex (1978); Neighbors (1980); Reinhart’s Women (1981); The Feud (1983); Nowhere (1985); Being Invisible (1987); The Houseguest (1988); Changing the Past (1989); Orrie’s Story (1990); Meeting Evil (1992); Robert Crews (1994); Suspects (1996); The Return of Little Big Man (1999); Best Friends (2003); and Adventures of the Artificial Woman (2004). Also present are three unpublished, abandoned novels: Teeny Weeny (1966-1969); The Patient (1980-1981); and Upriver (early 1980s).

Stageplays by Berger in the collection include Other People (1970), first produced at the Berkshire Theatre Festival; Rex, Rita and Roger (1970); and The Siamese Twins, a two-act comedy (1970). The drafts for Other People also include letters from producers and actors, as well as a printed program and a few reviews.

Other manuscripts include unpublished and published short stories; Berger’s short story collection Abnormal Occurrences (2013); screenplay adaptations of Vital Parts, written with Milos Forman (1972-1973) and Neighbors (1981); several short pieces (ca. 1948-1990), including Berger’s film column for Esquire magazine (1972-1973); a radio play titled At the Dentist’s, broadcast by Vermont Public Radio in 1981; an unpublished piece for Esquire magazine (commissioned and accepted, but never published); files on various projects; and an anthology of the creative writing workshop taught by Berger at Southampton College in New York state in 1975, among other materials.

Diaries and journals in the collection include journals of Berger’s notes (in his hand) regarding a trip to Europe in 1956.

Correspondence in the collection is separated into two kinds: letters regarding a particular novel by Berger, and general correspondence.

Correspondence regarding Crazy in Berlin (1952-1965) includes a transcript of an interview on The Jack Paar Show, as well as letters from Granville Hicks and Lionel Trilling. Correspondence regarding Reinhart in Love (1959-1966) includes letters from Guy Davenport, Maurice Girodias, Granville Hicks, Henry Miller, and Richard Schickel. Correspondence regarding Little Big Man (1962-1979) includes letters from R. V. Cassill, John Cheever, Larry Gelbart, and Henry Miller. Correspondence regarding Killing Time (1965-1981) includes letters from E. L. Doctorow and Larry Gelbart. Correspondence regarding Vital Parts (1969-1978) includes letters from Anatole Broyard and Henry Roth. Correspondence regarding Regiment of Women (1970-1978) includes a letter from Marion Seldes. Correspondence regarding Sneaky People (1973-1980) includes an original colored drawing by artist Robert Andrew Parker, illustrating a scene from the novel. Correspondence regarding Who is Teddy Villanova? (1975-1980) includes an audio recording of a radio adaptation broadcast on WPKN, Bridgeport, Connecticut. Correspondence regarding Arthur Rex (1976-1980) includes letters from James Atlas and Richard Schickel. Correspondence regarding Neighbors (1978-1980) includes a letter from Richard Schickel, material about an interview of Berger conducted by Schickel for the New York Times Book Review (1980), and letters regarding the film adaptation from producer David Brown and screenwriter Larry Gelbart. Also present in the collection is a file of correspondence regarding Critical Essays on Thomas Berger, edited by David W. Madden (1995); these letters consist of several letters between Madden and Berger (1989-1995).

General correspondence in the collection dates from 1947 to 2013. Notable correspondents include Saul Bellow, Cleanth Brooks, R. V. Cassill, Robert Coover, Ralph Ellison, Milos Forman, Larry Gelbart, Buck Henry, Arthur Koestler, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, W. Somerset Maugham, Henry Miller, Henry Roth, Richard Schickel, Upton Sinclair, Stephen Spender, Harvey Swados, Hunter S. Thompson, and Lionel Trilling. Of particular interest are the several letters to and from Guy Davenport (ca. (1970-1986).

Printed material in the collection primarily consists of the published versions of Berger’s articles, reviews, and essays. Publications include Esquire, Mademoiselle, Playboy, The Saturday Evening Post, and several others. Also included in the collection are articles, interviews, news clippings, magazines, booklets, and internet printouts pertaining to Berger; a few critical dissertations on Berger and the page proofs of Brooks Landon’s critical study Thomas Berger (1989); movie posters for film adaptations of Berger’s novels; a Christmas card from John and Judy Belushi; obituaries and articles regarding Belushi; and files of material on miscellaneous topics; among other materials.

Audio material consists of cassette recordings of Berger’s radio play At the Dentist’s (1981); an interview with Berger conducted at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (1986), a copy of a telephone answering machine cassette containing recordings of a call from Belushi and a call from Bill Murray inviting Berger to Belushi’s memorial service; and “book-on-tape” versions of several of Berger’s novels; among other materials.

 

Research material in the collection includes Berger’s research material regarding American Indians (for Little Big Man) and cryonics.

 

Professional material includes publicity and reviews regarding the film adaptation of Little Big Man; a press release regarding Dr. Mel B. Yoken; and various subject files regarding Berger’s novels, his college appearances, and other topics.

 

Film and video consists of a video cassette recording of Berger giving readings of his work at Mt. St. Mary’s College and DeMatha High School in Maryland (1986), a VHS tape regarding Berger’s 75th year as a Freemason, and a DVD of The Houseguest.

 

Legal material consists of army discharge papers, passports, university dossiers, licenses, and other materials from 1968 to 1972; various contracts from the 1970s through the 2010s; annulment and marriage licenses; and family birth certificates, marriage licenses, and immigration documents from 1845 to 1920; among other materials.

 

Notebooks include notes regarding various projects from 1949 to 1980, manuscript drafts and class notes from 1979 to 1990, and Jean Berger, among other topics. 

 

Financial material includes various files, bills, receipts, contracts, checkbooks, royalty statements, and tax records, among other materials.

 

Photographs include professional headshots from 1964 to 1981; personal photographs from the 1940s through the 1990s; albums regarding Berger, his family, his friends, art exhibitions, and travel, among other topics; and personal and professional negatives; among other materials. Many photographs pertain to Berger’s travels abroad.

 

Memorabilia includes World War II memorabilia, various academic certificates, and awards for Berger’s works, among other materials.

 

Scrapbooks include collections of material regarding Berger’s trip through Europe with his wife from 1956 to 1958 and Jean Redpath’s (Berger’s) art exhibitions from 1959 to 1964.

 

The collection also includes miscellaneous medical records and artwork.

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Notable Figures
1. Berger, Thomas, 1924-
Associated Subjects
1. Literary Collections Subject Guide
2. Humor, Comedy, and Satire Subject Guide