Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Harold Ober Associates
Archives of Harold Ober Associates
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1913-2002 (mostly 1968-2002)
856 boxes and 400 linear feet
Storage Note:
This is stored in multiple locations. Firestone Library (mss): Box 1-208 ReCAP (rcpxm): Boxes 170-641; 681-856; 170R; 171R; 172R; 173R; 174R; 175R; 176R; 177R; 178R; 179R; 180R; 181R; 182R; 183R; 184R; 185R; 186R; 187R; 188R; 189R; 190R; 191R; 192R; 193R; 194R; 195R; 196R; 197R; 198R; 199R; 200R; 201R; 202R; 203R; 204R; 205R; 206R; 207R; 208R


This collection consists of correspondence of the New York City literary agency Harold Ober Associates, Inc. and its three London affiliates. Established by Harold Ober (1881-1959) in the 1920s, the agency quickly grew in size and reputation, and has been considered one of the leading representatives for American and British writers in the world. The correspondence includes letters between the agency or affiliates and clients, editors, publishers, and other agents. Also included are other organizational files, such as date books and financial ledgers.

Collection Description & Creator Information


The collection consists of the Harold Ober Associates author files (1927-2002), organizational date books (1950-2017), financial and account ledgers (1935-2010), and files of the agency's three London affiliates: David Higham Associates (1965-1972), Bolt & Watson Limited (1971-1972), and Hughes Massie Limited (1968-1972).

The Harold Ober Associates author files contain correspondence with clients and with editors, publishers, and other agents concerning clients' work. Also included are occasional manuscripts of stories or poems, chapter outlines of novels, and revisions/insertions for clients' work, as well as copies of some contracts. The files of the London affiliate agencies generally contain inter-agency correspondence about clients' work, although letters directly from the authors frequently appear.

Authors with major files in the records include Richard Adams, William Barrett, Catherine Drinker Bowen, Pearl Buck, Walter Edmonds, John Gunther, Langston Hughes, John Bartlow Martin, Muriel Spark, and Philip Wylie. Literary estate correspondence for F. Scott Fitzgerald and William Faulkner is also sizable.


All the series are organized chronologically by year and then alphabetically by the correspondent's last name or by organization name, as appropriate.

The Author Files for the years 1973-1982 also contain material from the affiliate agencies.

Collection Creator Biography:

Harold Ober Associates

Harold Ober Associates, Inc., is a literary agency in New York City. Established by Harold Ober in the 1920s, it quickly grew in size and reputation and has been considered one of the leading representatives for American and British writers in the world.

Collection History


Harold Ober and Associates made a gift of these materials to the Special Collections.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by numerous staff over the years as additions arrived. The finding aid was written by Karla Vecchia in 2002. This was updated by Traci Ballou in 2006. The finding aid was updated again in 2018 by Chloe Pfendler with the addition of AM 2019-34. Box and folder inventories prepared by Ben Roberts and Carlos Giron.

In 2022, restrictions on an Ernest Hemingway letter where researchers were required to use surrogates were lifted as part of a restrictions review project.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Credit this material:

Archives of Harold Ober Associates; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184