Finding aid for the Lionel Menuhin Rolfe papers 0164

USC Libraries Special Collections
Doheny Memorial Library 206
3550 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles, California 90089-0189

Language of Material: English
Contributing Institution: USC Libraries Special Collections
Title: Lionel Menuhin Rolfe papers
creator: Rolfe, Lionel
Identifier/Call Number: 0164
Physical Description: 9 Linear Feet 9 boxes
Date (inclusive): 1960s-2000s
Abstract: Articles (some photocopied), ca. 1964 - present, on Southern California literature, politics, entertainment, and Jewish subjects, by journalist Lionel Rolfe (b.1942); includes preliminary studies for Rolfe's Literary L.A., research materials, and related materials by writer Nigey Lennon (b. 1954).
Container: 6
Container: 5
Container: 4
Container: 3
Container: 9
Container: 8
Container: 7
Container: 10
Container: 1
Container: 2

Preferred Citation

[Box/folder# or item name], Lionel Menuhin Rolfe papers, Collection no. 0164, Special Collections, USC Libraries, University of Southern California

Conditions Governing Access

COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE. Advance notice required for access.

Scope and Content

The Lionel Rolfe Papers contains articles (some photocopied), ca. 1964 - present, on Southern California literature, politics, entertainment, and Jewish subjects, by journalist Lionel Rolfe (b. 1942). The collection also includes preliminary studies for Rolfe's book "Literary L.A.", research materials, and related materials by writer Nigey Lennon (b. 1954).

Biographical note

Bearing his famous middle name through a variety of posts and assignments, Lionel Menuhin Rolfe has worked for over thirty years as feature reporter, correspondent, columnist, and editor for an array of Southern California newspapers and magazines, while taking time to write several books that uniquely reflect his interests.
Rolfe was born in 1942 in Medford, Oregon, but grew up in Los Angeles on the West Side and in Long Beach, later attending L.A. City College and L.A. State University. His father, Benjamin Rolfe, was an attorney and Workers' Compensation Appeals Court Judge; his mother Yaltah was a concert pianist and the sister of the famed violinist-prodigy Yehudi Menuhin. Early memories of his musical household were enhanced by extended visits to the home of his maternal grandparents in Los Gatos, California. This led to a preoccupation with the Menuhin dynasty, which became the subject of his first book, The Menuhins: A Family Odyssey, in 1978, casting enough light into dark corners to leave behind an estrangement between the nephew and his celebrated uncle which never fully healed.
Meanwhile Rolfe spent his journeyman years writing for outlying papers in Pismo Beach, Turlock, and Newhall, before returning to L.A. and a stint with Los Angeles Free Press when it was still the counterculture paper-of-record. Rolfe's abiding interest in the Bohemian world carries forward from the "Freep" and the residual coffeehouse culture of the 70s.
Of greater permanance was the work Rolfe did at the end of the decade for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. Writing regular feature articles for the Sunday magazine, he amassed a sizable file on the lives of bygone California authors, which later appeared in book form as his Literary L.A., published by Chronicle Books in 1981. An alternative weekly, the L.A. Reader, was also home to lengthy investigative articles on political and cultural figures, as well as such favorite Rolfe topics as railroads and bookstores. Later in the '80s, and "still wrestling with his Jewish identity," Rolfe wrote syndicated articles for Israel Today and became editor of the city's second oldest newspaper, the B'nai B'rith Messenger.
In the early 90's Rolfe co-researched and co-wrote Bread and Hyacinths: The Rise and Fall of Utopian Los Angeles, on turn-of-the-century urban politics and the life of Socialist politician Job Harriman. With his wife Nigey Lennon, he went into publishing under the imprint "California Classic Books;" and he works today as Editor at City News Service, also writing the occasional op-ed piece for the San Francisco Chronicle and other papers. In 1998 Rolfe published Fat Man on the Left, an anthology of favorite essays and portraits, expanded into a retrospective of his work to date.
Beginning in the 1980s, Lionel Rolfe has placed copies of his journalistic work on an ongoing basis with the American Literature Collection at the University of Southern California.

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Journalism -- California -- Archival resources
American literature -- 20th century -- Archival resources
Los Angeles (Calif.) -- History -- Archival resources
Rolfe, Lionel
Rolfe, Lionel -- Archives
Lennon, Nigey -- Archives

box 1

Articles 1964-1984

box 2

Artciles 1985-

box 3

The Jewish Press; newspapers containing article by Rolfe 1985-

box 4

Unpublished typescripts, reviews, and publicity

box 5

Bread and Hyacinths. Research materials

box 6

The Sagebrush Bohemian (by Nigey Lennon). Research materials

box 7

Nigey Lennon miscellany