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Chandler Brossard Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: LPB
Date: 2 Aug 2006

Biographical History

Chandler Brossard (1922-1993) was an American novelist, playwright, editor, and teacher.

Born on July 18, 1922 in Idaho Falls, Idaho, he grew up in Washington, D.C. Brossard was chiefly self-educated, having left school at age eleven. He worked as a journalist for the Washington Post before attaining a writing position with The New Yorker at age nineteen, where editor William Shawn encouraged him to write fiction. His first published novel, Who Walk in Darkness (1952), focused on the bohemian life of 1940s Greenwich Village and is sometimes considered the first beat novel, thus earning Brossard an association with early Beat Generation writers such as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg -- an association Brossard neither sought nor desired. Reviewers who characterized Who Walk in Darkness as a beat novel, Brossard said, "totally missed getting the book. They thought it was a realistic novel, which of course it wasn't. The French critics knew better. They perceived it as the first 'new wave' novel, a nightmare presented as flat documentary." (Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 16: The Beats: Literary Bohemians in Postwar America, pp. 43-45.)

Brossard received little critical support for his novels in the United States (though they were well-received abroad, particularly in France). In 1971 Anatole Broyard wrote a scathing review of Wake Up. We're Almost There for the New York Times: "Here's a book so transcendently bad it makes us fear not only for the condition of the novel in this country, but for the country itself." Brossard responded in kind and a small controversy festered between them for a time. Two of Brossard's novels -- The Wrong Turn (Avon, 1954) and The Double View (Dial, 1960) -- were published under the pseudonym "Daniel Harper."

In addition to producing novels, plays and short stories, Brossard worked as an editor for Time magazine (1944), executive editor for American Mercury (1950-1951), and senior editor for Look magazine (1956-1967). He also wrote criticism for The Nation, Commentary, and The Guardian. From 1968-1970, he was a professor at the experimental Old Westbury College on Long Island and subsequently held brief teaching appointments as a visiting professor, writer-in-residence, or lecturer at universities in the United States and abroad, including the University of Birmingham in England, the New School for Social Research in New York, and Schiller College (now Schiller International University) in Paris.

Brossard was married twice and had three daughters. He died in 1993.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Chandler Brossard Papers contains the papers of the American novelist, playwright, editor, and teacher. Correspondence-subject files contains Brossard's correspondence with editors (Joyce Engelson, Daniel Halpern, Jay Landesman, Mark Zussman), publishers (Bobbs-Merrill Company, Daniel Cointe, Editions Gallimard, Fawcett, New Directions), writers (Noam Chomsky, E.L. Doctorow, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Peter Matthiessen, Marshall McLuhan), and family (daughters Geneve, Iris and Marie, mother Therese and brother Boyd). The literary spat between Brossard and critic Anatole Broyard is well documented.

Writings comprises typescripts, drafts, annotated drafts, manuscripts, notebooks, and other material related to Brossards novels, plays, essays, and short stories. Most strongly represented are the novels As the Wolf Howls at My Door (1992) and Wake Up. We’re Almost There (1971), with 18 and 20 folders respectively. This series also includes one unpublished novel entitled She Cried Out to Me. Memorabilia consists of publicity, reader's reports, and reviews.


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.

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.

Related Material

The Special Collections Research Center also has a number of books by Brossard. Please refer to the Classic Catalog and search for Brossard, Chandler as author.

Subject Headings


Adams, Alice, 1926-1999.
Allen, Donald Merriam, 1912-
Bessie, Alvah Cecil, 1904-1985.
Brossard, Chandler, 1922-1993 -- As the wolf howls at my door.
Brossard, Chandler, 1922-1993 -- Wake up. We're almost there.
Brossard, Chandler, 1922-1993 -- Who walk in darkness.
Brossard, Chandler, 1922-1993.
Broyard, Anatole.
Chomsky, Noam.
Codrescu, Andrei, 1946-
Daniels, Guy.
Doctorow, E. L., 1931-
Ferlinghetti, Lawrence.
Friedman, Bruce Jay, 1930-
Hiss, Alger.
Holmes, John Clellon, 1926-1988.
Kees, Weldon, 1914-1955.
Krassner, Paul.
Krim, Seymour, 1922-
Landesman, Jay.
Mariah, Paul.
McLuhan, Marshall, 1911-1980.
Micheline, Jack, 1929-1998.
Padgett, Ron.
Plymell, Charles.
Sartre, Jean-Paul, 1905-1980.
Sontag, Susan, 1933-2004.
Sorrentino, Gilbert.


American literature -- 20th century.
Authors, American.
Bohemianism -- United States.
Bohemianism in literature.
Dramatists, American.
Literature, Experimental.
Novelists, American.

Genres and Forms

Book reviews.
Galley proofs.
Scripts (documents)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Chandler Brossard Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Chandler Brossard, 1970 et seq.

Table of Contents

Biographical information

Correspondence-subject files