John Fante (1909-1983) was an American writer of Italian descent whose depiction of 1930s Los Angeles in his novel Ask the
Dust (1939) earned him his greatest acclaim. The work inspired later artists such as Charles Bukowski and Robert Towne. Fante
wrote many short stories and novels throughout his life. He also worked as a contract screenwriter for Hollywood studios.
The collection consists of manuscripts, publications, correspondence, articles, financial records, ephemera and memorabilia.
John Fante was a writer of short stories, novels, and screenplays. He was born April 8, 1909 in Denver, Colorado to Nick and
Mary Fante. John graduated from Regis High School in 1927 and briefly attended the University of Colorado, Boulder before
heading to California to embark on his writing career. In 1930 he began a correspondence with the esteemed editor of
The American Mercury, H.L. Mencken, who published Fante's first story, "Altar Boy" (1932). Fante's early writings established the central conflicts
and themes that would continue to characterize his art. The autobiographically-inflected fiction that he would produce throughout
his life most commonly reimagined his struggles with Roman Catholicism, his family, his identification as an ethnic American,
and his development as a writer. In the early years of his career, Fante wrote and published many short stories; a collection
Dago Red, appeared in 1940. During this time he also wrote three novels:
The Road to Los Angeles (ca.1936, published in 1985),
Wait Until Spring, Bandini (1938), and
Ask the Dust (1939). The novels introduce Fante's major character, Arturo Bandini, and track his psychological and aesthetic development.
Prior to the publication of the two novels Fante met Joyce Smart. The two were secretly married in 1937. Joyce would be the
greatest advocate for his literary career, not only serving as his first and most trusted reader but also saving the manuscripts,
documents, and other records that now constitute the John Fante papers. It was also during the 1930s that Fante began working
as a contract screenwriter for various Hollywood studios. Though he disliked the job and believed it detracted him from his
literary career, screenwriting made for an intermittently handsome, albeit unstable income.
Jeanne Eagels (1957) and
A Walk on the Wild Side (1962) are among the more notable films to his credit. Fante wrote the screenplay adaptation of his fourth novel,
Full of Life (1952). The resulting film, also called
Full of Life (1956), did well both commercially and critically, the only such success of Fante's film career. He continued to publish
novels, including one for children,
Bravo, Burro! (1970), and
The Brotherhood of the Grape (1977). His final work,
Dreams from Bunker Hill (1982), concludes the quartet of novels often referred to as the
Saga of Arturo Bandini. John Fante died of pneumonia on May 8, 1983 at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital in Woodland Hills, California.
Soon afterward, Black Sparrow Press began releasing new editions of Fante's long out-of-print works as well as several previously
unpublished novels and short stories:
The Wine of Youth (1983),
The Road to Los Angeles, West of Rome (1986),
1933 Was a Bad Year (1991), and
The Big Hunger: Stories 1932-1959 (2000). Two feature films have been made from Fante's works,
Dominique Deruddere's adaptation of Wait Until Spring, Bandini (1989), and Robert Towne's adaptation of
Ask the Dust (2006).
Property rights to the physical object belong to UCLA Library Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are
retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright
and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.