Henry Roth Papers Open June 14 to All Researchers

Article excerpt

Henry Roth, one of the most secretive writers in American literature, the author of Call it Sleep, Shifting Landscape, and the Mercy ora Rude Stream series, died in October 1995 at the age of 89. Compared in his silence to Salinger and Ellison, Henry Roth fascinated the literary public with his stunning talent and his amazing yet curious 60 years of silence from writer's block. His papers, many long assumed burned, currently are on long-term deposit at the American Jewish Historical Society in Waltham, Massachusetts and can be viewed by appointment only until they are relocated to New York City's Center for Jewish History in Spring 2000. The papers consist of 68 boxes (33.5 linear feet) of materials and offer considerable insight into Roth's literary achievements and personal life.

While the bulk of the Henry Roth Papers document Roth's personal and professional life from the 1960s until his death, there is material from as early as 1918 in the collection. The papers contain correspondence with family, friends, literary agents, and other authors and artists with whom Roth maintained friendships and working relationships. Of particular interest is Roth's correspondence with political activist Eldridge Cleaver; his sister Rose Broder; childhood friend and first husband to Margaret Mead, Luther Cressman; New York City painter and muralist Stuyvesant Van Veen; literary promoter and critic Harold Ribalow; editor Marlo Materassi; and the inspiration for Call it Sleep, poet and professor Eda Lou Walton. …