Scope and Contents note
Preferred Citation note
Title: William Murray Papers
Identifier/Call Number: MSS.691
Mandeville Special Collections Library
Language of Material:
12.4 Linear feet
(31 archives boxes)
Date (inclusive): 1926-2005
Papers of William Murray, noted
The New Yorker
writer and published novelist. Materials document the literary and professional career of California-based writer noted for
his mystery fiction and contemporary feature writing. The collection contains correspondence, both professional and personal;
typescripts and drafts of published and unpublished literary works; appointment books and notebooks; biographical materials;
and audiorecordings of his interviews, notes, and readings.
Murray, William, 1926-2005
Scope and Contents note
The papers reflect the literary career of published novelist and journalist William Murray. The collection includes personal
and professional correspondence; typescripts for published books, magazine, and newspaper articles; and appointment books
and notebooks. The materials also contain photographs, biographical memorabilia and audiorecordings. The papers are arranged
in five series: 1) CORRESPONDENCE, 2) WRITINGS BY WILLIAM MURRAY, 3) APPOINTMENT BOOKS AND NOTEBOOKS, 4) BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS,
and 5) AUDIORECORDINGS.
SERIES 1: CORRESPONDENCE
The CORRESPONDENCE series is arranged in three subseries: A) Chronological, B) Alphabetical and C) Family.
A) The Chronlogical correspondence documents mostly business related letters written to and from William Murray to book publishers,
friends, and editors of magazines. The dates range from 1949-2004.
B) The Alphabetical subseries contains correspondence with Murray's various literary agents, including Helen Brann and Morton
C) The Family correspondence represents letter to and from William Murray to his mother, Natalia Danesi, and father, William.
Of particular note is correspondence written from writer, Janet Flanner to Natalia Danesi Murray. The letters are arranged
SERIES 2: WRITINGS BY WILLIAM MURRAY
The WRITINGS series is arranged in six subseries: A) Books, B) Magazine Articles, C) Plays, D) Television Scripts, E) Essays,
and F) Unpublished Manuscripts.
A) The Books are divided into published manuscripts and miscellaneous manuscripts; the latter includes unpublished manuscripts
and preliminary contract agreements. The published manuscripts, arranged chronologically, contain typescript drafts, page
proofs, and book reviews. Materials include the typescripts for
Fortissimo: Backstage at the Opera with Sacred Monsters and Young Singers, published posthumously in September, 2005.
B) The Articles are arranged by title of publication and subsequent articles by date. The bulk of the collection represent
The New Yorker,
New West, and the
Los Angeles Times West magazines. Murray wrote both monthly columns, feature articles, and reviews for book, film, music, and live theater for over
thirty magazines and newspapers.
C) Murray adapted several plays by Luigi Pirandello between 1966 and 1979. The materials include playscripts for both original
and translated plays including "Naked", "Ave Caesar", and the "Killing Touch", and are arranged alphabetially by title. In
addition, Murray wrote several television scripts for syndicated on air shows, with "Malibu" adapted into a mini-series.
D) The Essays, arranged alphabetically, are published and unpublished short non-fiction typescripts including "Theory and
Practice of Editing" written for
The New Yorker magazine.
E) Arranged alphabetically, the Unpublished Manuscripts are typescripts of feature writings and interviews dated between 1962-2002.
SERIES 3: APPOINTMENT BOOKS AND NOTEBOOKS
The folders in series 3 contain bound calendar appointment books annotated with notes and schedules and steno notebooks containing
handwritten notes, story leads, and ideas for feature writings.
SERIES 4: BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS
The BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS is arranged in two subseries: A) Photographs and B) Miscellaneous Materials. The photographs represent
Janet Flanner, Natalia Danesi Murray, and the William Murray family, arranged by name. The Miscellaneous Materials include
articles, memorabilia from Murray's early childhood and participation in local theater, and newspapers clippings about Natalia
SERIES 5: AUDIORECORDINGS
The AUDIORECORDINGS series contains audiocassette recordings of interviews conducted for background research for
Janet, My Mother, and Me. The interviewees include Phil Hamburger, Maurice Grosser, and Doda Conrad. The collection also includes a taped lecture
given by Murray at University of California, Riverside. The tapes are arranged by date.
William Murray, born in New York City on April 8, 1926, was the only child of William Murray, head of the New York branch
of William Morris talent agency and Danesi Murray, an Italian actress, opera singer, and publisher. At age 6 months, after
his parents divorced, Murray moved with his mother to Rome, Italy; he returned to the United States at the age of 8. He attended
Phillips Exeter Academy from 1942-1943, and, after graduating, he enrolled at Harvard, where he developed his interest in
opera and singing. After college, he spent time in the Army Air Force and qualified for the GI Bill. He returned to Italy
shortly after to pursue his opera career; when he lost his voice temporarily, he turned to fiction and journalism. Already
a freelance writer and a stringer for
TIME, he acquired his first professional job in the fiction department at the
THE NEW YORKER in 1956 and continued as a staff writer for more than thirty years.
Murray married Doris Rogers in 1952, settled in New York, and then relocated to Rome at the end of 1961. Already a regular
The New Yorker with the "Letter from Italy" column, he then published
Fugitive Romans (1954) and
Best Seller (1957). By 1966, the Murray family, with two daughters and a son, moved to California, settling in Malibu and then Del Mar.
He and Doris Rogers divorced in 1972; he married Alice Bigbee in 1975.
Murray's parents had divorced in 1936, shortly after his mother began an almost forty-year relationship with Janet Flanner,
American writer and journalist who served as the Paris correspondent of
The New Yorker. In
Janet, My Mother, and Me: A Memoir of Growing Up with Janet Flanner and Natalia Danesi Murray, published in 2000, Murray tells the story of the relationship between his mother and Flanner who helped raised him during
his teenage years.
After moving to California, Murray wrote his noted mystery series set at the Del Mar racetrack, featuring his characters,
"Shifty Lou Anderson" and his gambler sidekick "Jay Fox" with
Tip on a Dead Crab (1985),
When the Fat Man Sings (1987),
The King of the Nightcap (1989),
I'm Getting Killed Right Here (1991),
Now You See Her, Now You Don't (1994), and
A Fine Italian Hand (1996).
Murray contributed to more than thirty magazines and newspapers on travel, horseracing, gambling, and California lifestyle.
He also published books and articles on Italy and Italian culture with
Italy: The Fatal Gift (1982) and
The Last Italian: Portrait of a People (1991). Murray also wrote plays, including translations of Luigi Pirandello's "Naked"; essays; reviews of theatre and music;
and television scripts.
William Murray died March 9, 2005, in Manhattan.
Audiorecordings in Series 5 are restricted. Researchers must request a listening copy to be produced.
Preferred Citation note
William Murray Papers. MSS 691. Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Del Mar Race Track.
Flanner, Janet, 1892-1978
Murray, Natalia Danesi
Murray, William, 1926-2005 -- Archives