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Guide to the William Saroyan Papers, 1926-1981
Special Collections M0870  
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms
  • Appendices

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: William Saroyan Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1926-1981
    Collection number: Special Collections M0870
    Creator: Saroyan, William, 1908-1981
    Extent: 185 linear ft.
    Repository: Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
    Abstract: Manuscripts, correspondence, journals, drawings, scrapbooks, clippings, financial and legal records, his personal typewriter, and ephemera.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    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.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item] William Saroyan Papers, M0870, Dept. of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of William Saroyan Foundation


    Novelist, short-story writer, dramatist, and essayist, William Saroyan was born in Fresno, California in 1908. A high-school dropout, Saroyan was largely self-educated and decided at an early age to pursue a career as a writer, drawing on his experience as an Armenian-American growing up in California.
    His first published works were sketches in The Overland Monthly in 1928, which inspired him to seek his fortune in New York City. In 1934 Story Magazine printed "The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze." The immediate public acclaim led to publication of the collection The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze and Other Stories (1934) by Random House. He followed this success with two more short story collections in 1936, Three Times Three and Inhale and Exhale.
    Transforming one of these stories into his first dramatic production, My Heart's in the Highlands (1939), Saroyan then wrote The Time of Your Life (1939-40), for which he received both New York Drama Critics' Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize. The same year he released the story collection, My Name is Aram (1940), a Book of the Month Club selection.
    In late 1941 Saroyan agreed to work for Louis B. Mayer in Hollywood. This resulted both in the Oscar-winning MGM film, The Human Comedy, (1943) as well as the popular novelized version of the original screenplay, published by Harcourt Brace simultaneously with the movie's opening.
    Drafted into the army, Saroyan was stationed during part of World War II in London, where he wrote the controversial anti-war book, The Adventures of Wesley Jackson (1946). Through the 1950s he continued to produce plays, short stories, and novels. He then turned to personal memoirs to express himself, producing in succession The Bicycle Rider in Beverly Hills (1952), Here Comes, There Goes, You Know Who (1961), Not Dying (1963), and Obituaries (1980), which was nominated for the American Book Award. A final volume of reminiscence, Births (1983), was published posthumously.

    Scope and Content

    Saroyan's papers document his personal and professional life and include manuscripts, correspondence, journals, drawings, scrapbooks, clippings, financial and legal records, and ephemera. The correspondence, which includes both incoming and outgoing items, is with his family, publishers, fans, agents, attorneys, writers, actors, and other public figures. The manuscripts include novels, plays, short stories, memoirs, essays, poems and music. The scrapbooks date from 1935 to 1942 and contain clippings, programs, and photos relating to some of Saroyan's first theatrical productions.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    American literature--20th century.

    Genres and Forms of Material



    Major Publishers

    • Atlantic Monthly Press
    • Ballantine Books
    • Bantam Books
    • George Braziller
    • Cassell & Co.
    • Cowles Communications
    • Creative Arts Book Co.
    • Thomas J. Crowell, Inc.
    • Delacorte Press
    • Dell Publishing Co.
    • Dial Press
    • Dilia
    • Doubleday & Co.
    • Duchess Music Corp.
    • Arnoldo Mondadori Editore
    • Faber & Faber
    • Farrar, Strauss & Giroux
    • Samuel French
    • Ginn & Co.
    • Grabhorn Press
    • Hairenik
    • Harcourt Brace Jovanovich
    • Harper & Row
    • Houghton & Mifflin
    • Jose Janes
    • Japan Uni Agency
    • Kenkyusha Ltd.
    • Leeds Music Corp.
    • J.B. Lippincott
    • Listening Library
    • Little, Brown & Co.
    • McDougal, Littell & Co.
    • McGraw-Hill Book Co.
    • MacMillan Company
    • Modern Age Books
    • Thomas Nelson & Sons Ltd.
    • New American Library
    • Nippon Hoso Kyokai
    • Noble & Noble, Inc.
    • W.W. Norton
    • Penmaen Press
    • Phaedra Publishers, Inc.
    • Pocket Books Inc.
    • Praeger Publishers, Inc.
    • Prentice-Hall Inc.
    • Random House, Inc.
    • Franco Maria Ricci Editore
    • Scholastic Book Services
    • Scott, Foresman & Co.
    • Charles Scribners' Sons
    • Simon & Schuster
    • Spadea Syndicate
    • S. Fischer Verlag
    • Viking Press
    • World Publishing Co.
    • A.A. Wyn


    • Stichting tot Exploitatie en Berscherming van Auteursrechten
    • Authors Agency Limited
    • Brandt & Brandt
    • Jaques Chambrun
    • Joan Davies
    • Barthold Fles
    • Fox Chase Agency (Al Hart)
    • Samuel French
    • James Geller
    • Folmer Hansen
    • Jugoslovenska Autorska Agencija
    • Michelle La Pautre
    • Landers Agency
    • Irving Lazar
    • A & S Lyons
    • Elizabeth Marton
    • George Marton Plays
    • Harold Matson
    • Ben Medford
    • Scott Meredith
    • William Morris Agency
    • Pearn, Pollinger & Higham
    • Lawrence Pollinger Ltd.
    • Stanley Richards
    • Stanley Rose
    • Lawrence Smith Literary Agency
    • Talent Associates
    • Margery Vosper Ltd.
    • Ann Watkins Inc.
    • K. Yano Literary Agency


    • Philip Alperin
    • Athearn, Chandler & Hoffman (Richard Harrington)
    • Coudert Fr�res (Aram Kevorkian)
    • Robert Damir
    • Desser, Rau, Christensen & Hoffman
    • Ernst and Ernst
    • Ernst, Cane, Berner & Gitlin
    • Alan Fenner
    • Armen Hampar
    • Kevorkian & Caldwell (Aram Kevorkian)
    • Arnold Krakower
    • Shearer, Fields, Rohner & Shearer
    • Shirley, Saroyan, Calvert & Peterson (Suren Saroyan)
    • William Stern

    Important Family Members

    • Bagdasarian, Ross
    • Kazarian, Jacqueline
    • Matthau, Carol
    • Minasian, Archie
    • Papazian Family
    • Saroyan, Aram
    • Saroyan, Aram (uncle)
    • Saroyan, Cosette
    • Saroyan, Hank
    • Saroyan, Henry
    • Saroyan, Lucy
    • Saroyan, Mihran
    • Papazian, Zabel (Saroyan)

    Omnibus Productions

    • The Abracadabra Kid
    • Ah Sweet Mystery of Mrs. Murphy
    • The Bad Men
    • The Best Year in the History of the Whole World
    • The California Boyhood of William Saroyan
    • The Christmas Tie
    • An Everyday Family Miracle
    • The Man in the Cool-Cool Moon
    • My Heart's in the Highlands
    • The Oyster and the Pearl
    • A Picture for the Family Album
    • Scalawag's Heaven
    • A Spring Day at the Marriage License Bureau
    • Vive!