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Harry Roskolenko Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: JOD
Date: Oct 1990

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Harry Roskolenko Papers are composed of personal and business Correspondence, Writings, and Memorabilia. The collection, which covers the years from 1928 to 1981, reflects the professional career of this largely self-educated product of New York's Jewish ghetto, while it also illuminates the personal life of this often-classified "Leftist" writer.

The Correspondence-subject files (Boxes 1-12) contain biographical material, family correspondence, and both personal and business letters. Although the bulk of the correspondence is incoming, there are some carbons and drafts of outgoing letters scattered throughout the various files, particularly those of Roskolenko's brother, Mike Rosen, and his typist, Patricia Edwards Clyne. Although the distinction between personal and business letters is often blurred, correspondence which is chiefly of a business nature includes that with fellow writers (Ichiro Ando, Harvey Breit, Richard Eberhart, Max Geltman, Helen Neville, Kenneth Rexroth, Harold Rosenberg, Raymond Rosenthal, Selwyn S. Schwartz, Henry Treece, John Wheelwright), publishers and editors (Thomas A. Bledsoe, Decker Press, James Laughlin, Prentice-Hall, Philip Rahv, Reed & Harris Publishers, Karl Jay Shapiro, Harold Vinal), publications (The Illustrated Weekly of India, Mobil Dealer News, Modern Motoring and Travel, The Nation, The New Leader, The New Republic, Poetry (Chicago), Prairie Schooner, Sports Illustrated, Voices), and agents (Stephane Galanon, Alex Jackinson, Joseph Kalmer, Russell & Volkening, Inc.). Personal correspondence which is of considerable depth and duration includes that of Martha Jacobi, Sarah Lutzky, and Harvena Richter.

The correspondence not only illustrates the process by which Roskolenko's works reached publication but also reflects his relationships with his colleagues in the literary world. A significant body of correspondence concerns Roskolenko's exhaustive search for sponsorship for his literary travel books Poet on a Scooter and White Man Go!, which received support from Bell & Howell Company, Caltex Limited, Coleman Lamp and Stove Company, Limited, Hellenic Mediterranean Lines Co. Ltd., Pan American World Airways Systems, Piaggio & C., Rootes Motors, Inc., Vacuum Oil Company, and Ward Manufacturing, Inc.

Writings (Boxes 13-37) are divided into unpublished book manuscripts, books, essays, poetry, reviews, scripts, speeches, stories, and miscellaneous writings. Spanning 1928 to 1974 with the heaviest activity from the 1930s through the 1960s, Writings includes research material, reel-to-reel tapes, manuscript drafts, manuscripts, production records, and published versions. However, not every title within a given category of writings contains all of these elements. For example, the writings contain manuscript drafts for the books but not the published version of Black Is a Man, Paris Poems, and Season of Love, while reviews and the printed material but not drafts are available for I Went Into the Country and Sequence on Violence.

The importance of the writings rests in their demonstration of both Roskolenko's working method and the versatility of this self-proclaimed "hack writer" who earned a living almost exclusively from writing. In an effort to increase both his exposure and his income, Roskolenko often submitted two similar stories for publication to different publishers (e.g. "Letter from Japan" The Sewanee Review and "Literature and Art in Japan" The Canadian Forum). Blurring the boundary between fact and fiction, he employed similar themes or motifs in his autobiographies, essays, stories, and travelogues with variations only in names and depth of treatment.

Roskolenko made extensive use of pseudonyms throughout his career, but especially when writing for the "adult" audience. Many of the pseudonyms which he chose were based upon his own name while some were borrowed from close friends. The pseudonyms that appear in this collection are: Jean de Ballard, Rollin Coss, H.R. Crozier, Paul Goch, Elizabeth Goode, Michael Leigh, Ross K. Lynn, Russ Lynn, Paul Niloc, H.R. Rose, Harry Roskolenkier, Allen V. Ross, Collin Ross, and Harry Ross. The names of Rose, Roskolenkier, and Roskolenko appear to be used almost exclusively for his more literary works.

Writings begin with book manuscripts (unpublished) followed by books, arranged alphabetically by title. Book manuscripts (Boxes 13-15) contain drafts and revisions of projects intended for publication but that never went to press. The Books folders (Boxes 16-29) often include the research, drafts, and production records of Roskolenko's published works. Single copies of books which were part of the collection were transferred to the Rare Book collections while multiple copies were divided between the Roskolenko Papers and the Rare Book collections. The range of his published work includes poetry (I Went Into the Country, Paris Poems, Second Summary, Sequence on Violence), fiction (Lan-Lan, The Rape of the Heart), travelogues (Baedeker of a Batchelor, Poet on a Scooter, White Man Go!), autobiography (The Terrorized, When I Was Last on Cherry Street), and adult fare (Bombay After Dark, The French Riviera After Dark, Ladies in the Rough).

Essays (Boxes 30, 31 and 39) comprise drafts and printed versions and, less frequently, research material and reviews. This work ranges from literary pieces ("The Cant in Pound's Cantos," "The Celine Mish-mash," "Moustache on the Mona Lisa," "What Poets Do for a Living") to political and social articles ("Germany Today," "Migration: the Australian Contradiction," "Treatment of Natives in Mandates") as well as travelogues ("An American Jew in Egypt," "Kaleidoscope on a Scooter," "Vacationing in Alsace"). Roskolenko's essays were widely published, appearing in such diverse publications as: Angry Penguins, The Chicago Jewish Forum, Congress Weekly, The Illustrated Weekly of India, The Jobber Journal, Mademoiselle, Meanjin Papers, Modern Motoring and Travel, The New Leader, New Masses, Prairie Schooner, and Tomorrow.

Poetry (Boxes 31-33) includes drafts and manuscripts of Roskolenko's poems as well as some tear sheets of his published work. A contributor to publications such as Accent, Angry Penguins, Envoy, Focus, Here and Now, The Illustrated Weekly of India, Mandrake, Northern Review, Poetry (Chicago), and Voices, Roskolenko's international credits include Australia, Canada, Great Britain, India, and Ireland.

Writings continues with Roskolenko's reviews, scripts, speeches, and stories (Boxes 33-36). Arranged by title of the work, Roskolenko's reviews are mostly of poets or poetry, however the collection includes a film review of "The Garden of the Finzi Continis" for the American Jewish Congress. Box 34 contains an assortment of scripts, most of which were written in collaboration with his wife Diana Chang Roskolenko for the Voice of America radio China division. Included among the scripts is a "dramatic verse play" about T.S. Eliot and a "sketch" for television written in 1948. Box 35 contains drafts and printed material pertaining to several speeches which Roskolenko delivered primarily in the 1940s. Stories include drafts and manuscripts of Roskolenko's published and unpublished short fiction. Targeted primarily to the adult market, his short stories appeared in publications such as Batchelor, Escapade, Hi-Life, and Man's Daring Adventures.

Roskolenko's Miscellaneous writings (Box 37) include appeals, blurbs, a chronology of Ho Chi-Minh, excerpts from an interview, letters to editors, lists of works and submissions to publishers, and outlines and proposals. Appeals include an announcement written for the United Jewish Appeal as well as "Appealnick," an example of office humor to which Roskolenko contributed. The interview, conducted in Japan and published in Japanese, includes some English notes and transcriptions. The lists of works and submissions are an extensive compilation by Roskolenko of acceptances and rejections by publishers. The outlines and proposals include materials related to Roskolenko's ideas for various books as well as film, radio, and television projects.

While Memorabilia (Boxes 37-38) consists primarily of military documents, printed material, and scrapbooks, it also contains some calendars and assorted financial records. The military documents include papers from the merchant marine and from Roskolenko's service in the Army during World War II. The printed material consists primarily of clippings of articles about Roskolenko as well as material he collected on Africa. The printed material also includes items that he acquired on his travels. The scrapbooks contain clippings of Roskolenko's poems and book 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.

Subject Headings


Roskolenko, Harry.


American literature -- Jewish authors.
American poetry -- 20th century.
Australian literature.
Journalists, United States.
Poets, American.

Genres and Forms

Autobiographies (literary works)
Clippings (information artifacts)
Drafts (documents)
Manuscripts for publication.
Scripts (documents)
Speeches (documents)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Harry Roskolenko Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Purchase, 1967-1968, 1972-1973.

Gift of Patricia Edwards Clyne, 1985.

Table of Contents

Correspondence-subject files