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Guide to the Wallace Irwin papers, ca. 1917-1959
BANC MSS C-H 109  
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Collection Details
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  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Wallace Irwin Papers,
    Date (inclusive): ca. 1917-1959
    Collection Number: BANC MSS C-H 109
    Origination: Irwin, Wallace, 1875-1959
    Extent: Number of containers: 3 boxes, 8 cartons
    Repository: The Bancroft Library.
    Berkeley, California 94720-6000
    Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
    Abstract: Some letters from family, friends, agents and publishers; manuscripts of short stories, novels, plays, poems, etc.; manuscript of his unpublished autobiography; clippings; scrapbooks; publishing agreements; photographs and snapshots; drawings; personalia. Manuscripts of writings of his wife, Laetitia M. Irwin, also included.
    Languages Represented: English

    Information for Researchers


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library 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 by the reader.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Wallace Irwin papers, BANC MSS C-H 109, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Material Cataloged Separately

    Photoprints and drawings transferred to the pictorial collections of The Bancroft Library (BANC PIC 1960.006--B and BANC PIC 1960.007--PIC)


    Wallace Irwin -humorist, author and journalist -was born in Oneida, New York, March 15, 1875. When he was five the family moved to Leadville, Colorado. Both he and his brother Will (who also became a noted author and journalist) attended Stanford University and there earned reputations that, according to Wallace, "savored of brimstone." Editing two of the campus publications, Wallace brought down on his head the ire of certain faculty members whom he lampooned in verse. He was expelled, as was Will previously.
    Wallace then went to San Francisco in pursuit of a newspaper career. He worked for a time as a reporter on The Report, the News Letter and the Examiner, and then as editor of the Overland Monthly. Acting on a suggestion from Gelett Burgess, Irwin amplified some verse he had composed for the Overland into a series of sonnets written in tough American slang. The Love Sonnets of a Hoodlum, begun as a literary prank, was published by Morgan Shepard and Paul Elder in pamphlet form. It enjoyed great popularity and went through several editions. Moreover, reviewers all over the country praised it.
    Like most western authors, Irwin went to New York, and eventually joined the staff of Collier's. The magazine serialized his famous Letters of a Japanese Schoolboy, in which the character Hashimura Togo appeared, and so popular did it become that Irwin resigned from the staff in 1909 to syndicate his series and freelance. From then on he wrote independently, contributing articles and stories to several periodicals and producing several novels, including Seed of the Sun (1921), Lew Tyler's Wives (1923) and The Julius Caesar Murder Case (1935).
    Irwin died in 1959 at his home in Southern Pines, North Carolina.

    Scope and Content

    Mrs. Irwin, the former Laetitia McDonald, and a novelist in her own right, presented a collection of their papers to the Bancroft Library in 1959, with a few additions in 1960. They include letters from friends, family, agents and publishers, ca. 1917-1959; manuscripts of their writings (novels, short stories, plays, etc.); the manuscript of Irwin's unpublished autobiography; clippings; scrapbooks; publishing contracts and agreements; photographs; and drawings. The papers are described in greater detail in the Key to Arrangement which follows.