The Joseph Heller Papers at the University of South Carolina is a comprehensive collection of notes, manuscripts and working drafts made by Heller for all of his books, beginning with his second novel, Something Happened. Also included in this collection are earlier materials relating to the dramatization of Catch-22, his play We Bombed in New Haven, and several unproduced screenplays co-written with his childhood friend, novelist George Mandel. Background biographical material for Heller’s memoir Now and Then includes family correspondence, reminiscences from childhood friends, and copies of his wartime flight records. The materials from Closing Time, the sequel to Catch-22, include correspondence with fellow World War II veterans.
The arrangement of this collection is chronological, by major work. Novels and memoirs comprise the bulk of the collection. Also included are smaller groups of screenplays, magazine articles, clippings and reviews, and audio/video materials.
While preparing the papers for transfer to South Carolina, Heller (henceforth abbreviated JH) named all folder titles that appear in quotation marks in this finding aid. In several instances he supplied additional contextual information about a particular folder or group of manuscripts, often writing notes on the folders themselves. All these documents have been retained with their original groupings. All other folder titles and the collection’s main arrangement have been supplied by the processor.
In his working practice, Heller initially made notes on index cards as he gathered information and created scenes or pieces of dialogue for inclusion into a book. These cards were later given to a typist. Many of the cards include check marks noting their incorporation into a working manuscript.
Heller would frequently make concurrent revisions to multiple completed sections of a book while simultaneously working on new sections. He often dated his day’s work when creating new material. The collection arrangement reflects this process of revision and creation. For some novels, Heller wrote out, in longhand, a second revised manuscript afterhis typist had prepared a first typed draft from the original manuscript. Heller frequently saved his author’s proof copies and galleys, which are also included in this collection.
Boxes 52 and 53 contain documents relating to his early-1980s divorce and settlement, including extensive financial information and deposition transcriptions. They are currently restricted and not open to research. Please speak to a special collections librarian for specific terms of the restriction.