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Denis Brian Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: Lisa Marie Soltren
Date: 2022-04-26

Biographical History

Denis Brian (1923- ) is a Welsh journalist and author, best known for his biographies.

Born in Cardiff, South Wales, he studied at the University of Southampton (1941-1942), the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (1948-1950), and Columbia University (1958-1960).

Brian started his career as a reporter on the Irish News Service in London's Fleet Street between 1939-1941. From 1942-1946 Brian served in the Royal Air Force as a flight lieutenant. After his time serving in the military Brian worked as an actor, playwright, and stuntman in England, 1951-1957; a freelance writer, beginning in 1958; and as a literary agent, 1960-1962.

In 1959, he emigrated to the United States and worked as a freelance writer. He is the author of over 30 books, including biographies of Tallulah Bankhead, Albert Einstein, Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, and Jeane Dixon. Brian's style of biography is to interview those surrounding the subject of his work to provide deeper context to the story.

Brian married Martine Kisray in 1961, and the couple had one daughter, Danielle Gilda Anne. They now live in Florida, in the United States.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Denis Brian Papers consists of correspondence-subject files, interview transcripts, recordings, and writings.

Correspondence-subject files retains Brian's original arrangement by topic, whether a person (Tallulah Bankhead, Ernest Hemingway, Albert Einstein) or a specific subject (e.g. parapsychology). Notable individuals represented in the collection include Sir Lawrence Olivier, A.W. Lawrence, Mary Hemingway, Alan Dershowitz, and more.

Interview transcripts contains transcripts of interviews Brian conducted with individuals. Note that not all recordings present in the collection (see next series) have transcripts.

Recordings contains original audiorecordings of Brian's interviews with individuals.

Writings contains unpublished manuscripts of The Actor and Sherlock Holmes 3, and articles and clippings related to Brian's research on Einstein.

Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence subject files are arranged alphabetically by Brian's assigned subject. Interview transcripts and writings are arranged alphabetically by name or title. Recordings are arranged numerically by Brian's own numbering system and then alphabetically. There were evidently several separate numeric series but no master list was found, hence there are duplicates of many numbers -- for example, seven tapes are numbered "(1)".


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research. Access to audiorecordings requires advance notice to produce a use copy.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts, or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Bacon, James, 1914-2010.
Baker, Russel, 1925-2019.
Bankhead, Tallulah, 1902-1968 -- Biography.
Bankhead, Tallulah, 1902-1968 -- Family.
Bankhead, Tallulah, 1902-1968 -- Friends and associates.
Bankhead, Tallulah, 1902-1968 -- Interviews.
Bergmann, Peter, 1942-
Brian, Denis.
Bryan, Robert, 1931-
Bucky, Thomas Lee.
Capote, Truman, 1924-1984 -- Biography.
Capote, Truman, 1924-1984 -- Family.
Capote, Truman, 1924-1984 -- Friends and associates.
Capote, Truman, 1924-1984 -- Interviews.
Chapman, Eddie.
Christie, Agatha, 1890-1976.
Colby, William Egan, 1920-1996.
Cranston, Alan, 1914-2000.
Cummins, Dorothy.
Curie, Eve, 1904-2007.
Curie, Marie, 1867-1934.
Dahl, Robert A., 1915-2014.
Dershowitz, Alan Morton, 1938-
Dickey, James L., 1923-1997
Dowding, Hugh Caswall Tremenheere Dowding, Baron, 1882-1970.
Dukas, Helen.
Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955 -- Biography.
Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955 -- Family.
Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955 -- Friends and associates.
Einstein, Elizabeth Roboz.
Faulkner, William, 1897-1962.
Frost, Robert, 1874-1963.
Greene, Graham, 1904-1991.
Helms, Richard.
Hemingway, Ernest, 1899-1961 -- Biography.
Hemingway, Ernest, 1899-1961 -- Family.
Hemingway, Ernest, 1899-1961 -- Friends and associates.
Hemingway, Gregory H. (Gregory Hancock), 1931-2001.
Hemingway, Mary Welsh, 1908-1986.
Hersey, John, 1914-1993.
Hitchcock, Alfred, 1899-1980.
Kemeny, John G.
Koch, Ed, 1924-2013.
Langevin, Helene M.
Laueson, Theo Von.
Lawrence, A. W. (Arnold Walter), 1900-1991.
LeHand, Marguerite, 1896-1944.
Lee, Alice.
Lee, Harper.
Longworth, Alice Roosevelt, 1884-1980.
Luce, Clare Boothe, 1903-1987.
Menninger, Karl A. (Karl Augustus), 1893-1990.
Murray, Henry A. (Henry Alexander), 1893-1988.
Niven, David, 1910-1983.
Odets, Walt.
Pais, Abraham, 1918-2000.
Penfield, Wilder, 1891-1976.
Pepper, Claude, 1900-1989.
Pio, of Pietrelcina, Saint, 1887-1968.
Pritchett, V. S. (Victor Sawdon), 1900-1997.
Rabi, I. I. (Isidor Isaac), 1898-1988.
Reik, Theodor, 1888-1969.
Rooney, Andrew A.
Ross, Lilian.
Shinwell, Emanuel, 1884-1986.
Singer, Isaac Bashevis, 1904-1991.
Skinner, B. F. (Burrhus Frederic), 1904-1990.
Stephenson, William Samuel, 1896-1989.
Thomas, Lowell, 1892-1981.
Tully, Grace, 1900-1984.
Wald, George, 1906-1997.
Wallace, Mike, 1918-2012.
Weisskopf, Victor Frederick, 1908-2002.
West, Duane.
Wheeler, John Archibald, 1911-2008.
Wiesel, Torsten N.
Wigner, Eugene Paul, 1902-1995.
Wodehouse, P. G. (Pelham Grenville), 1881-1975.
Woodward, Bob, 1943-


Actresses -- Biography.
Authors -- Biography.
Scientists -- Biography.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Manuscripts for publication.
Sound recordings.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Denis Brian Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Purchased from Denis Brian, 2016

Table of Contents

Correspondence subject files

Interview transcripts