Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Creator:
Merrick, Gordon.
Collector:
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Title:
Gordon Merrick Papers
Repository:
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/bk128991w
Dates:
1936-1991 (mostly 1954-1988)
Size:
23 boxes
Storage Note:
ReCAP (rcpxm): Box 1-23

Abstract

The Gordon Merrick Papers consist primarily of drafts of the manuscripts of Merrick's novels, written over a thirty-nine year period, from the late 1940s ( The Strumpet Wind, 1947) to the mid-1980s ( Measure of Madness, 1986). Also present is his business and financial correspondence with agents, publishers, and banks over a twenty-one year period, from 1967 until his death in 1988. In addition there is a clipping file which dates back to Merrick's first experiences as an actor in the 1930s, as well as photographs taken for publicity as well as for Merrick's personal collection.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Description:

Consists primarily of the working drafts, sometimes many versions, of the manuscripts for eighteen novels and three short stories, as well as fragments of two playscripts, the typescript of the television adaptation of his first novel The Strumpet Wind (1947), and drafts of three essays. The drafts are undated but range from early versions of The Lord Won't Mind to the unpublished draft of The Good Life, a novel which Merrick was working on when he died. Not all of the novel manuscripts in the collection were published, and not all of the published novels are represented by manuscripts in the collection. Merrick did not date any of his manuscripts.

There is also correspondence in the collection, including three boxes of business and financial correspondence, dating from 1967 until Merrick's death in 1988, then a folder of correspondence dated 1989-1990, dealing with the Merrick estate, as well as one folder of undated material. There is very little personal correspondence but what has been preserved includes nine letters and notes from E.M. Forster, dating from 1948 to 1954. There is also fan mail, dating from 1977 until the year after Merrick's death. The documents in the collection include photographs, awards, passports, and some medical and financial records. There are publicity photographs, as well as photographs from Merrick's personal collection, dating from 1959 to 1987. The diaries and calendars in the collection date from 1967 to 1988. The printed material in the collection is primarily clippings, but includes some of Merrick's published journalism as well as playbills from his stage career. The series "Papers of Other Persons" consists of a small amount of material relating to Merrick's life-long partner Charles Hulse.

Collection Creator Biography:

Merrick, Gordon.

Gordon Merrick was born on August 3, 1916, in Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, a wealthy suburb of Philadelphia. His great grandfather was the founder of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and his father was a stockbroker. He enrolled at Princeton University as a member of the Class of 1939 and studied the modern French novel, especially Gide, Proust and Céline, with Professor of Romance Languages Maurice Coindreau. Outside the classroom Merrick was very active in campus theatre life. In his junior year he quit Princeton to move to New York and look for an acting job. He landed a three-year contract on Broadway and scored a hit with a role in Kaufman and Hart's "The Man Who Came to Dinner" at the Music Box Theatre. Becoming bored with the repetition of the same role after a year, Merrick found other parts, none of which proved successful.

In 1941 he abandoned the theatre to become a journalist. Exempt from the draft because of a hearing condition, he got his first journalism job with the Washington Star, then moved on to the Baltimore Sun, and finally to the New York Post. Merrick regarded journalism as his apprenticeship in writing. In early 1944, after training with the O.S.S. (or what is now the C.I.A.), he was sent to Algeria to engage in counter-espionage, but ended up in Cannes instead on the Côte d'Azur with French identification papers. In August of 1945 he repatriated to the United States. He tried but failed to obtain a job as Paris correspondent for the New York Post, so he went to Mexico instead, where he could live very cheaply, and began writing novels.

With the success of his first novel The Strumpet Wind (1947) he decided to return to France. The next nine years brought little success to his writing career, and, distressed by political unrest in France because of the Algerian War, Merrick decided to move to a Greek island by the name of Hydra where he bought a house and lived until tourism made life there intolerable too. In 1975 he discovered the Orient and bought himself a house in Ceylon, but on visiting France again purchased a home in Tricqueville in Normandy. Thus he ended up by dividing his time between France and Ceylon (Sri Lanka), where he died of lung cancer on March 27, 1988.

Merrick's best-known book, The Lord Won't Mind, appeared on the New York Times best-seller list in 1970 for sixteen weeks. It was the first in a trilogy that included One for the Gods (1971/72) and Forth into Light (1974). At a time when homosexuality was still viewed as a closet identity which could only end in tragedy, Merrick wrote openly about gay love that ended happily. Among the items left of the personal papers of Charles G. Hulse, in the series "Papers of Other Persons," is a summary of some of Gordon Merrick's novels which helps to illuminate their avant-garde timing in the history of gay and lesbian fiction. In addition to his trilogy, Merrick also wrote at least eighteen other novels in the course of thirty-nine years, including An Idol for Others (1977), The Quirk (1978), Now Let's Talk about Music (1981), Perfect Freedom (1982), The Great Urge Downward (1984), and A Measure of Madness (1986).

Collection History

Acquisition:

Merrick's papers were left to the long-term partner of his adult years, Charles Hulse, who sold them to the Library in 1991.

Archival Appraisal Information:

No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information:

This collection was processed by Margaret Sherry in 1996. Finding aid written by Margaret Sherry in 1996.

Access & Use

Access Restrictions:

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions for Reproduction and 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:

Gordon Merrick Papers; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/bk128991w
Location:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184