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Stanley Elkin Papers

Identifier: MS-MS-ms039

The Elkin Papers consist primarily of Elkin's own manuscripts, including his plays, filmscripts, essays, and stories, with the bulk of the material being manuscripts and editorial matter toward his novels. Elkin's manuscripts include all stages of his drafts, from autograph notes written on university exam books to diskettes containing word proccessor files. Also included in the Papers are an extensive general and professional correspondence, manuscripts by other authors, teaching materials, and his own college literary papers.

Group 3 consists primarily of materials after Stanley Elkin's death including correspondence to Joan Elkin involving his literary estate and condolence cards; royalty statements; contracts concerning reprints of Eklin's books by the Dalkey Archive Press, Avon, Open Road Media, and others; print materials featuring Elkin's work; and clippings.  Also includes some personal memorabilia including Elkin's high school diploma and Bar Mitzvah invitation.

Group 4 consists of born digital materials from Elkin’s PC hard drive and floppy disks.  The contents are currently inaccessible in their original formats.  Elkin first worked on a Lexitron VT 1303 Word Processor, and then on an early MS-DOS PC using Just Type Software from the Lexitronix Corporation. The 5.25” floppy disks associated with the Lexitron VT contain working drafts of the novel George Mills, but they are inaccessible due to hardware limitations.  The hard drive and 5.25” floppy disks associated with the PC contain a variety of materials including drafts, essays, and letters from 1991-1995.  While the original files are inaccessible due to hardware and software limitations, derivative copies from earlier recovery projects are available in Plain Text and Word Perfect formats.


  • Creation: 1943-2013


Conditions Governing Access


Conditions Governing Use

Users of the collection must read and agree to abide by the rules and procedures set forth in the Materials Use Policies.

Providing access to materials does not constitute permission to publish or otherwise authorize use. All publication not covered by fair use or other exceptions is restricted to those who have permission of the copyright holder, which may or may not be Washington University.

If you wish to publish or license Special Collections materials, please contact Special Collections to inquire about copyright status at (314) 935-5495 or (Publish means quotation in whole or in part in seminar or term papers, theses or dissertations, journal articles, monographs, books, digital forms, photographs, images, dramatic presentations, transcriptions, or any other form prepared for a limited or general public.)


142.00 boxes (1 hard drive (44.4 MB), 17 5.25 inch Lexitronic floppy disks, 14 5.25 inch floppy disks and 10 HD 3.5 inch floppy disks)

Biographical Information

Stanley Lawrence Elkin (May 11, 1930 – May 31, 1995) was an American novelist, short story writer, and essayist. Elkin was born in Brooklyn, New York, but grew up in Chicago. He did both his undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, receiving a bachelor's degree in English in 1952 and a Ph.D. in 1961 for his dissertation on William Faulkner. He was a member of the English faculty at Washington University in St. Louis from 1960 until his death, and battled multiple sclerosis for most of his adult life.

During his career, Elkin published ten novels, two volumes of novellas, two books of short stories, a collection of essays, and one (unproduced) screenplay. His extravagant, satirical fiction revolves around American consumerism, popular culture, and male-female relationships, which is portrayed in innumerable darkly comic variations. Characters and especially prose style take full precedence over plot. His language is extravagant and exuberant, baroque and flowery, taking fantastic flight from his characters' endless patter.

Always bordering on the outlandish, Elkin's work did not receive the popular reception that was given to many of his peers. It was, however, greeted enthusiastically by critics and reviewers and brought him numerous literary awards, including a National Book Critics Circle Award for George Mills (1983) and for Mrs. Ted Bliss (1995).


It is not possible to maintain the original arrangement of the born digital materials due to hardware and software limitations. The materials have been collected into the series G4 and subdivided into 4 subseries according to physical media types. Each subseries contains an itemized list of media, including label text, and when possible, a description of the contents.  For media that have derivative versions, the original file formats and names have been changed. These changes have been documented.

Technical Access Requirements

The library may not be able to provide access to all born-digital materials due to lack of required hardware/software or other technical limitations.

All requests for born-digital material requires advanced notice. Please contact Special Collections for more details.

Method of Acquisition

Accession number 790. Stanley Elkin, November 11, 1966

Accession number 809. Gift of Stanley Elkin, February 3, 1967

Accession number 811. Stanley Elkin, February 14, 1967

Accession number 858. Stanley Elkin, September 12, 1967

Accession number 923. Stanley Elkin, May 27, 1968

Accession number 1092. Stanley Elkin, October 2, 1969

Accession number 1111. Stanley Elkin, November 14, 1969

Accession number 1137. Gift of Stanley Elkin, January 27, 1970

Accession number 1256. Gift of Stanley Elkin, February 12, 1971

Accession number 1401. Gift of Stanley Elkin, September 20, 1973

Accession number 1614. Purchase, April 11, 1984

Accession number 1625. Purchase from Serendipity, September 7, 1984

Accession number 2152. Albert Lebowitz, December 27, 1999

Accession number 22928. Unknown

Accession number 22929. Unknown

Accession number 23066. Gift of Joan Elkin, unknown

Accession number 23926. Gift of Joan Elkin, April 28, 2008

Accession number 23948. Gift of Charles H. Gold, July 31, 2007

Accession number 2013.021, Gift of Joan Elkin, July 9, 2013

Accession number 2014.007, Gift of Joan Elkin, March 28, 2014

Accession number 2014.021. Gift of Joan Elkin, October 27, 2014

Accession number MSS2021-004. Gift of Timothy Hawley, August 19, 2020

Processing Information

Born digital materials processed in September and October 2018 by Robert Manley.  Because of technical limitations, processing work in 2018 involved organizing previous born digital recovery projects from 1995, 2004, and 2012.  See the Elkin_Born_Digital Materials_Survey.docx for more information.

Stanley Elkin Papers
Description rules
Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 2021 May 6: Resource record updated in ArchiveSpace by Sarah Schnuriger.

Collecting Area Details

Part of the Manuscripts Collecting Area

Joel Minor
Olin Library, 1 Brookings Drive
MSC 1061-141-B
St. Louis MO 63130 US
(314) 935-5495