Contents and Arrangement

Biographical Materials, 2000-2015

2 boxes

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

These materials relate to Roth's relationship with his authorized biographers and his efforts to manage the information that went into his biography. Roth chose Ross Miller as his biographer in 2004. Miller was a longtime friend of Roth's, as well as a professor of English and comparative literature at the University of Connecticut, architecture critic, author of several books, and editor of the Library of America's multi-volume edition of Roth's writings. Roth's opinion of Miller rapidly declined, however. He accused him of deliberately avoiding interviewing his family and friends and of slandering him to those he did interview. The arrangement was terminated in 2009. Materials collected here include over 600 pages of Roth's notes refuting the information Miller acquired during his interviews, as well as copies of related correspondence. With Miller gone, Roth took it upon himself to compose Notes for My Biographer, a 300-page point-by-point refutation of his ex-wife Claire Bloom's memoir, Leaving a Doll's House. Some correspondence and notes pertain to this work. In 2012, Roth picked a new biographer: Blake Bailey, the biographer for Richard Yates and John Cheever, whose biography of Roth is under contract with W.W. Norton & Company. Materials related to Bailey include his proposal for the biography, notes Roth provided to Bailey, and correspondence. There are also some essays by others and press clippings about Roth and Roth's notes critiquing reading guides about his work.


Arranged by material type.

Collection History


No materials were removed from the collection during 2018 processing beyond routine appraisal practices.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Kelly Bolding in August 2018. Finding aid written by Kelly Bolding in August 2018, repurposing some description provided by the dealer. In December 2021, some folders were physically rearranged to facilitate the administration of access restrictions. These materials (Boxes B-001208 and B-001754) were closed until January 1, 2023, and the restriction has since been lifted.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Biographical Materials; Benjamin Taylor Collection of Philip Roth Materials, C1609, Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (mss): Boxes B-001209 to B-001210, B-001754

Find More

Related Materials

The bulk of Philip Roth's personal papers are held by the Library of Congress: Philip Roth papers, 1938-2001 (MSS22491)

Bailey, Blake, 1963-
Miller, Ross
Roth, Philip, 1933-2018