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Richard Hoffman - Lorraine Hansberry collection

Identifier: MSS 0508

Scope and Content Note

The Richard Hoffman - Lorraine Hansberry collection spans the dates between 1959 and 1986 and comprises 17 items, including photographs, playbills, programs, a screenplay for A Raisin in the Sun , and articles related to The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window.


  • Creation: 1959-1986


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Richard Hoffman

Brooklyn-based theater collector and book dealer Richard Hoffman built a number of literary collections around American playwrights over a period of many years.

Hoffman has said that he entered the United States Army in the 1950s as an actor and left as a writer. His military experience led to an assignment to create a television program titled "Your Army in View," which consisted of interviews and live drama. After his discharge from the service in 1955, Hoffman taught in the drama department of The City University of New York. During this period he was awarded a Eugene O'Neill fellowship for playwriting. He also began to seriously collect rare books and first editions of contemporary American dramatists, notably the playwrights Eugene O'Neill, Arthur Miller, and Neil Simon. Hoffman's interest in collecting first editions led to his career as an antiquarian book dealer.

Lorraine Hansberry

American playwright Lorainne Hansberry (1930-1965) was born in Chicago, Illinois. She studied drama and stage design at the University of Wisconsin from 1948 to 1950 and then moved to New York to write for the Freedom newspaper. She was politically active in the Civil Rights movement by promoting social change and speaking against the oppression of African-Americans. In 1953, she married Robert Nemiroff, an aspiring writer whom she met on a picket line at New York University. Hansberry's play, A Raisin in the Sun , opened on Broadway in 1959 and won the New York Drama Critic's Circle Award, making her the youngest American, the first woman, and the first African-American to win the award.

In 1960, Hansberry wrote two screenplays of A Raisin in the Sun that were not produced without significant alteration because they were deemed controversial. Her other plays include The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window , which opened on Broadway in 1964, Les Blancs , The Drinking Gourd , and What Use Are Flowers? , all published posthumously in 1972 under the title Les Blancs: The Collected Last Plays of Lorraine Hansberry.

In 1964, Hansberry and Nemiroff divorced, though they remained close and he became her literary executor when she succumbed to cancer in January 1965.

American National Biography.24 vols. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.


.3 linear foot (1 box)


The Richard Hoffman's collection of materials from the African-American playwright Lorraine Hansberry collection spans the dates 1959-1986 and comprises 17 items, including photographs, playbills, programs, a screenplay for A Raisin in the Sun(1959), and articles related to The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window(1964).


Purchase, August 2005.

Related Materials in this Repository

MSS 0484 Richard Hoffman - Neil Simon collection

MSS 0485 Richard Hoffman - Arthur Miller collection

MSS 0490 Richard Hoffman - David Rabe Collection

MSS 0496 Richard Hoffman - David Mamet Collection

MSS 0505 Richard Hoffman - John Guare Collection

MSS 0510 Richard Hoffman - August Wilson Collection

Shelving Summary

  1. Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes (1 inch)


Processed by Karalee Kopreski, October 2005. Encoded by Jillian Kuzma, January 2009. Updated by Julia Pompetti, November 2010.

Richard Hoffman - Lorraine Hansberry collection
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2008 January 27
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

181 South College Avenue
Newark DE 19717-5267 USA