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Guide to "Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton" Research and Production Records
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography / Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Access Terms

  • Overview

    Call Number: SC0608
    Creator: Middlebrook, Diane Wood, 1939-2007
    Title: "Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton" research and production records
    Dates: 1897-1998
    Bulk Dates: 1989-1998
    Physical Description: 8.75 Linear feet
    Summary: Research files, including interview audio recordings and transcripts; notes; correspondence; clippings; photographs; photocopies; and other materials accumulated by Diane Middlebrook in preparation for writing Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton. Also includes draft versions, page proofs, and a signed first edition of the book; correspondence with publisher Houghton-Mifflin; clippings of reviews and other publicity for the book; and correspondence received by Middlebrook in response to the book.
    Language(s): The materials are in English.
    Repository: Dept. of Special Collections & University Archives.
    Stanford University Libraries.
    557 Escondido Mall
    Stanford, CA 94305-6064
    Email: speccollref@stanford.edu
    Phone: (650) 725-1022
    URL: http://library.stanford.edu/spc

    Administrative Information


    Gift of Diane Wood Middlebrook, 2001.

    Information about Access

    Audio recordings in box 16 are closed pending reformatting. Research files in box 17 are restricted until 2059. Other materials are open for research; materials must be requested at least 24 hours in advance of intended use.

    Ownership & Copyright

    Property rights reside with the repository. Literary rights reside with the creators of the documents or their heirs. To obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Public Services Librarian of the Dept. of Special Collections.

    Cite As

    [Identification of item], "Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton" Research and Production Records (SC0608). Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.

    Separated Materials

    A number of published sources consulted by Middlebrook during her research for Suits Me were transferred to the university archives along with her files. Items which were available in the Stanford University Libraries general collection at the time this collection was processed were removed. A list of items removed is available in the repository. Items not held by Stanford were retained and are located at the end of Series 1.

    Biography / Administrative History

    Diane Wood Middlebrook (1939-2007), biographer and longtime professor of English at Stanford University, was educated at the University of Washington (A.B., 1961) and Yale University (M.A, 1962; Ph.D., 1968). She joined the Department of English at Stanford in 1966 and remained there until 2002, when she left to focus on her writing full-time. Although she also published literary criticism and poetry, Middlebrook is best known for her biographies: Anne Sexton, A Biography (1991), Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton (1998), and Her Husband: Hughes and Plath, a Marriage (2003).
    Middlebrook was approached by Kitty Oakes, the fifth and final wife of jazz musician Billy Tipton, in 1991 while on a promotional tour for Anne Sexton. Tipton's death in 1989 made international news after it was discovered that he was a woman who had been living as a man for over fifty years. Oakes proposed that Middlebrook write a book about Tipton and offered Middlebrook exclusive access to family papers and photographs. For the next several years Middlebrook conducted extensive research, including interviews with Oakes, other family members, friends, and music industry associates of Billy Tipton. The biography, titled Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton, was published by Houghton Mifflin in 1998.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The collection consists of Middlebrook's research files, including audio recordings and transcripts of interviews; notes; correspondence; clippings; photographs; photocopies of vital records and related primary source documents; and other materials accumulated in preparation for writing Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton. The research files include a subseries of files accumulated by Gerry Everding, an Oklahoma City-based journalist who worked on the book project as a research assistant. Middlebrook's files document both Tipton's life and the local music scenes in which he participated. The subject files designated "Afterlife of Billy Tipton" contain information on other works based on Tipton's life, including several plays and musicals.
    Also included are a draft of the book, page proofs, an advance reading copy, and a signed first edition; correspondence with publisher Houghton Mifflin; clippings of reviews and other publicity for the book; and correspondence received by Middlebrook in response to the book.


    The materials are arranged in five series: Series 1: Research Files; Series 2: Production Files; Series 3: Response to Book; Series 4: Photographs; and Series 5: Audio Materials. Files are arranged alphabetically within each series. Although Series 5 is closed pending preservation reformatting, a list of the audio materials it contains is available in the repository.

    Access Terms

    Tipton, Billy, 1914-1989.
    Biography as a literary form.
    Jazz musicians--United States--Biography.
    Transgender people--United States--Biography.