SLA-PH Highsmith, Patricia: Nachlass Patricia Highsmith, 1921-1995 (Bestand)

Archive plan context


Call number:SLA-PH
Title:Highsmith, Patricia: Nachlass Patricia Highsmith
Creation date(s):1921 - 1995
Size (free text description):204 Archivschachteln
Size (in metres):50.00
Digital copy:


History of the collection:Acquisition by purchase, 1996.
Additional acquisitions and donations.
Most significant Donations: Coates Donations in 1998 and 2006 (see C-03-c), the Skattebol Donation in 1999 (see B-01-02-SKA), executors files in 2009 (see E-03) .
Biographical information:Patricia Highsmith was born in Fort Worth, Texas, on 19 January 1921 and died in Locarno (Ticino) on 4 February 1995. She was raised in Fort Worth, Texas, and in New York, where she studied at Barnard College (Columbia University) and found work as a text writer for comic strips. Following the publication of her first novel Strangers on a Train (1950), she was able to make a living as a writer. She spent time in Mexico and traveled extensively to and around Europe, taking up residence in England in 1963. She moved to France in 1967 and finally to Switzerland (Ticino) in 1981. Patricia Highsmith published twenty novels, seven books of short stories, and many essays, newspaper articles and book reviews. She owed much of her fame to the five Ripley novels featuring the multiple murderer Tom Ripley, who always somehow manages to cover up his tracks. The writer was primarily interested in the psychology of her characters, and in human relationships and the way they degenerate into violence. Not all of her work is crime fiction, however. The novel The Price of Salt (1952), published under the pseudonym Claire Morgan, depicts a lesbian relationship in a repressive environment. Highsmith received the Edgar Allen Poe Award of the Mystery Writers of America, and the Silver Dagger Award of the Crime Writers’ Association of Great Britain. The French Culture Ministry made her Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. There have been numerous film adaptations of her works, by celebrated directors such as René Clément, Alfred Hitchcock, Claude Chabrol, Wim Wenders and Anthony Minghella.
Acquisition information:Ankauf
Date of Acquisition:1996

Collection structure

Genre of archival collection:Nachlass
Description of the archival collection:A-Works: typewritten manuscripts of various novels, including lengthy fragments of unpublished or unfinished works; around 400 typewritten manuscripts of partly unpublished short stories, essays and poems; some 39 cahiers, or literary notebooks; more than 300 loose drawings and watercolors and 25 sketchbooks.
B-Correspondence: family correspondence, including a large collection of letters between Highsmith and her Texan first cousin Dan O. Coates, and letters between Highsmith and her mother Mary Coates Highsmith, father Jay B. Plangman and step-father Stanley Highsmith. Correspondence with publishers. Correspondence with friends, including a large number of letters to her life-long friend Kate Kingsley Skattebøl, and to Charles Latimer and Barbara Ker-Seymer, as well as copies of letters to Alex Szogyi, Phyllis Nagy and Bettina Berch. Letters from (and occasionally to) fellow writers, especially Graham Greene, Paul Bowles and Gore Vidal (for other established names in the Arts and Letters with a smaller number of letters see list below).
C-Life Papers and Documents: 18 diaries written in various languages, around 1,500 photographs, personal and family documents and memorabilia.
D-Collections: 14 scrapbooks, personal library, audio-visual collections, collection of newspaper cuttings, and more.
Order and classification:Abbreviations

AvP - Anna von Planta
c./c - circa
div. mat. - divers materials
dd. - dated
approx. - approximately
h.w. - handwritten
IHT - International Herald Tribune
Illustration - Illustr.
PH - Patricia Highsmith
MC - Music Cassette (Audio Cassette)
MS(S). - Manuscript(s)
numb. - numbered
p. - page
pp. - pages
orig. - original
pseud. - pseudonym
re. - regarding
suppl. - supplement
Ts(s). - Typescript(s)
t.w. - typewritten
t. p. - title page
CoD - Coates Donation
?/(?) - unknown (person or subject)
Cataloguing level:detailliert
Note on the cataloguing:The majority of the collection was transferred to SLA in November 1996, with other items following in March 1998.
From March to August 1997, Philippa Burton defined the general structure/inventory of the Highsmith Papers and drew up two of the four major inventories for the collection, the one of manuscripts and the one of drawings. In 1997 and 1998, she settled the Coates and Skattebol donations. In 1998 and in 1999, Burton organized and listed the letters in the third of the four large inventories.
In early 1999, Lucienne Schwery drew up the remaining large inventory, of photographs, processing identification information that had been provided by Kate Kingsley Skattebøl and the testamentary executors Frieda Sommer and Vivien De Bernardi. During a two-week stay in Bern in the summer of 1999, Skattebøl helped Schwery and Burton with the identification of obscure photographs and letters, principally those of friends of Highsmith. This was, however, only a concentrated example of the on-going help Skattebøl has given SLA since the very beginning.
As co-curators of the Highsmith collection, Stéphanie Cudré-Mauroux and Ulrich Weber repeatedly added to the four main inventories, in particular the letters, and inventoried other parts of the papers at different periods over the years.
In 2005 and 2006, the final parts of the papers were inventoried by Philippa Burton, Lukas Dettwiler and Ulrich Weber. Lukas Dettwiler converted the full general inventory into Encoded Archival Description (EAD) format, thus facilitating access for researchers and other interested parties. In the following years new items were repeatedly added and inventoried by Ulrich Weber, Lukas Dettwiler and Daniele Cuffaro.
Finding aid author:Philippa Burton, Lucienne Schwery, Stéphanie Cudré-Mauroux, Ulrich Weber, Lukas Dettwiler, Daniele Cuffaro
Finding aids:Finding aids
Finding aid URL:

Conditions governing use and acces

Acces restrictions:Documents are available for consultation only in the SLA Reading Room, and are subject to certain restrictions above all in relation to the inherent personal rights and copyright.

Related documents

Presentation in exhibitions:Patricia Highsmith. Exhibition of the Swiss National Library/Swiss Literary Archives and the Strauhof Zürich 2006/2007


Personen_BestandsbildnerIn:Highsmith, Patricia / 1921-1995


Entries:  BestandsbildnerIn (Personen\H\Highsmith, Patricia (1921-1995))
  Abgebildet (Personen\H\Highsmith, Patricia (1921-1995))




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