J.D. Salinger Tribute at HRC

The Harry Ransom Center and American Short Fiction, an Austin-based literary magazine, presented a tribute to the late J.D. Salinger Friday evening.

Authors Elizabeth Crane, Nick Flynn, Amelia Gray, ZZ Packer, John Pipkin, and Amanda Eyre Ward read excerpts from Salinger’s published work and bits of his letters to Elizabeth Murray.  Murray was the sister of one of Salinger’s classmates at Valley Forge Military Academy as well as a close friend.

I apologize in advance for the poor quality of my recorder, but you can listen to Elizabeth Crane narrate the first set of letters here:


And John Pipkin narrates the second set here:

photo by Yolande Yip

John Pipkin

While Salinger is best known for his novel The Catcher in the Rye, “we all know that Salinger’s accomplishments as a writer extend beyond this work.  He was undoubtedly one of the finest short story writers of his age, and he had a unique ability to create timeless characters that his readers, generation after generation, continued to identify with and love,” said Thomas F. Staley, the Harry Ransom Center Director.

“His fiction isn’t just for people who read and write for a living.  It’s for people who love words or conversation, people who are interested in religion or the lack of it, the serious, the light-hearted, young people and people who remember their youth,  the happy, the mystical, even the uninterested, the alienated,” said Callie Collins, Editorial Fellow of American Short Fiction.

photo by Yolande Yip

Jill Meyers (left) and Callie Collins

The event marked the opening of a small display of Salinger’s original manuscripts, letters (including the ones from Murray), and inscribed books from the HRC’s Salinger collection.

For any Longhorn who’s not familiar with the facility, the HRC is a renowned research library primarily dedicated to the study of literature and culture in the United States, Great Britain and France.  According to its website, the HRC’s “collections contain 36 million leaves of manuscripts, one million rare books, 5 million photographs, and 100,000 works of art, in addition to major holdings in theater arts and film.”

A few of the HRC’s most notable acquisitions include one of only five complete, original Gutenberg Bibles; the first photograph ever taken and costumes from Gone with the Wind.  The HRC also features impermanent exhibitions, rotating about every six months.

Chances are, you’ll never have an academic reason beyond Art History 301 (and trust me, TD 301 is a much easier fine arts credit) to get lost in the HRC archives, but it’s a very unique resource you can take advantage of during your UT career.  If nothing else, at least walk by 21st and Guadalupe to examine the nifty windows.

photo by Yolande Yip

HRC Windows from Outside

photo by Yolande Yip

HRC Windows from Inside


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