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Jeffrey Bailey collection of James Leo Herlihy papers

Identifier: MSS 0670

Scope and Content Note

The Jeffrey Bailey collection of James Leo Herlihy papers is a combination of correspondence and personal papers originated by American author and actor James Leo Herlihy (1927-1993) and literary papers belonging to Herlihy’s long-time friend and literary executor, American author Jeffrey Bailey.

In 1976, Bailey interviewed Herlihy, which resulted in a lifelong friendship. The interview, subsequently published in the August 25, 1976, issue of the Advocate, was followed by an intimate and substantial correspondence which continued until Herlihy’s death in 1993.

The arrangement of this collection reflects the two distinct segments of the papers, Series I. James Leo Herlihy, and Series II. Jeffrey Bailey. The first series comprises material related to Herlihy’s acting and writing careers, his correspondence with Bailey and with American author Paul Bowles, and personal papers such as diaries, photographs, and artwork.

Herlihy, who is best remembered for his writing, particularly, Midnight Cowboy (1965), was also an actor and an artist. In addition to programs from his roles in plays at the Pasadena Playhouse and in New York City theaters, photographs and programs document two highlights of Herlihy's theatrical career: his role in Edward Albee's Zoo Story (which he performed in Paris and Boston in 1963) and his character in the motion picture Four Friends (1982). New York photographer Arnold Weissberger captured scenes from Herlihy's Zoo Story stage performance, along with fellow actors Tallulah Bankhead and Joan Blondell, for a photograph album which he gave to Herlihy.

Dating from his days at Black Mountain College in 1948, until his death in 1993, Herlihy sketched and painted. Herlihy’s pencil and charcoal drawings, watercolors, and pastels offer several self-portraits, as well as portraits of others, including one of Marlene Dietrich. Individual works of art and Herlihy’s sketching in some of his diaries (particularly as he traveled), sample his artistic talent.

Programs, reviews, posters, and publicity represent Herlihy’s published work. The few manuscripts found in this collection are untitled stories, a manuscript for what Herlihy described as "The Great Dream," and a folder of miscellaneous writing labeled as his "last creative writing."

The correspondence between Herlihy and Bailey reflects the close friendship that the two men shared for seventeen years. Herlihy and Bailey exchanged news of daily life, as well as accounts of writing projects, such as Bailey's novel "Angel Skin," for which Herlihy offered extensive comment. They reported information about friends, such as James Broughton, James Kirkwood, Lyle Bongé, and Paul Bowles; and shared their personal struggles, whether due to health issues, the deaths of family and/or friends, or just the vagaries of life.

In Herlihy's letters one sees a man who struggled to age gracefully, difficult for a man for whom personal appearance was important, but also a man who displayed great compassion for his friends and family and an ability to be brutally introspective. These strikingly honest and sometimes humorous letters deliver details of travels, critiques of movies and books, and critical reflections on his life and career.

The seven diaries/notebooks, kept by Herlihy between 1982 and 1993 further document the introspective quality of his personality. Herlihy wrote detailed accounts of his dreams and his subsequent analyses of their meaning, ruminations on his relationships and writing, and in October 1993, his final words. Herlihy's diaries also record itineraries and calendars for travels, drafts of letters to friends (such as M. C. Richards), sketches and portraits, quotations from notable persons and personal friends, his belief in the information gained with Ouija boards, recipes, and on one occasion, a record of his thoughts while on drugs.

The Jeffrey Bailey series has two subseries: the first, correspondence, and the second, his writing. Best known for his published interviews with Paul Bowles, Anaïs Nin, and James Leo Herlihy, Bailey has also written a teleplay of Herlihy’s Stop, You’re Killing Me, and was, according to correspondence, working on a novel. Drafts of the Nin and Bowles interviews and the teleplay are available in this small sample of Bailey's writing.

Jeffrey Bailey began corresponding with American author Paul Bowles (1910-1999) in 1976, to schedule a visit to Tangier, Morocco, in order to interview him. Following the interview, Bowles's letters to Bailey focused on correcting the manuscripts from the interview and on responding to Bailey's additional questions. His letters occasionally mentioned mutual friends, such as Gavin Lambert, Herlihy, Christopher Isherwood, and Mohammed Mrabet.

In the early 1980s, Bowles wrote of the political turbulence in Morocco and was adamant that the interview avoid commenting on sexuality in Morocco because of possible consequences. Because Paul Bowles was blacklisted following the publication of Love With a Few Hairs , he worried that he might be refused permission to continue living in the country.

Jeffrey Bailey also sought interviews with a number of other literary notables. Letters from Maya Angelou, Lawrence Durrell, Christopher Isherwood, Gavin Lambert, Anaïs Nin, and James Kirkwood offer varying responses to Bailey's requests. One letter from American actor Charlton Heston was followed by a series of fan club newsletters and photographs of Heston.

The Jeffrey Bailey collection of James Leo Herlihy papers complements the existing collections of Herlihy's papers found in the Manuscript and Archives Department of the University of Delaware Library. The correspondence, diaries, photographs and artwork in this collection make accessible his acting and artistic career and the introspective quality of his personality, as well as adding to an understanding of what motivated his writing.


  • Creation: 1942-2006
  • Creation: Majority of material found within dates 1953-1993


Language of Materials

Materials entirely 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, University of Delaware Library,

Jeffrey Bailey

Jeffrey J. Bailey (1951- ) was an aspiring writer of plays and fiction when he first met James Leo Herlihy in the mid-1970s.

Describing himself at the time as a freelance "literary journalist," Bailey interviewed a number of writers whose work he particularly admired. One such writer was Anaïs Nin, who arranged a meeting between Bailey and American author James Leo Herlihy. From this original contact would come an interview for The Advocate titled "James Leo Herlihy and the Phenomenon of Love," and a mentor-protege friendship which endured for eighteen years until Herlihy's death in 1993.

Jeffrey Bailey has lived abroad for most of the past four decades— in Italy, France and especially Morocco. He has focused on various writing and translation projects at his home in Casablanca, and often spends the fall semester teaching English at Al Akhawayn University in the Middle Atlas town of Ifrane.

Bailey, Jeffrey. E-mail to Timothy Murray, November 2013.

James Leo Herlihy

American author, playwright, and actor James Leo Herlihy (1927-1993) is known for his plays; his novel Midnight Cowboy, which was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film; and his association with Black Mountain College.

After completing high school, Herlihy served in the U.S. Navy. With the benefits earned through the G.I. Bill, Herlihy attended Black Mountain College in North Carolina, in 1947 and 1948. At Black Mountain he studied literature, music, and art (particularly sculpture), with faculty who included M. C. Richards, Merce Cunningham, Anaïs Nin, John Cage, and William De Kooning. Anaïs Nin and M. C. Richards became Herlihy's lifelong friends.

In 1948, Herlihy moved to California and studied at Nin's Pasadena Playhouse College and began his acting career in theaters on the West Coast. Two highlights of his theatrical career were his roles in Edward Albee's Zoo Story (which he performed in Paris and Boston in 1963) and in the film Four Friends (1982).

The Pasadena Playhouse produced Herlihy's first plays Streetlight Sonata (1950) and Moon in Capricorn (1953). In 1953, Herlihy collaborated with his teacher William Noble on the play, Blue Denim, which had a successful run on Broadway in 1958 and was adapted into a film in 1959.

Herlihy was also successful as a fiction writer. In 1952, the Paris Review published a short story that would become the title work of Herlihy's 1959 collection, The Sleep of Baby Filbertson and Other Stories. His first novel, All Fall Down (1960), was followed by Midnight Cowboy in 1965, which was later adapted into an Academy Award-winning film starring Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman.

In the late 1960s Herlihy taught acting and writing at many institutions, including playwriting courses at City College, New York (1967-68), and he served as distinguished visiting professor at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, in 1983.

Bongé, Lyle. "Obituary: James Leo Herlihy."The Independent(London), 29 Oct., 1993: 16.Kendle, Burton S. "James Leo Herlihy,"Contemporary American Dramatists. Ed. K.A. Berney. Detroit: St. James Press, 1994. pp. 261-265."James Leo Herlihy, 66, Novelist who wrote Midnight Cowboy."New York Times, 22 Oct., 1993: B9.Olendorf, Donna, ed.Contemporary Authors. Volume.143. Detroit: Gale Research Co, 1994: 191.


1.6 linear foot (2 boxes)

1 oversize removal


The Jeffrey Bailey collection of James Leo Herlihy papers is a combination of correspondence and personal papers originated by American author and actor James Leo Herlihy and literary papers belonging to Herlihy’s long-time friend and literary executor, American author Jeffrey Bailey.


Purchase, June 2013.

Related Materials in this Repository

MSS 0344, James Leo Herlihy papers

MSS 0454, Lyle Bongé - James Leo Herlihy correspondence

MSS 0099, F0920, James Leo Herlihy letters to Edward P. Mitchell

Shelving Summary

  1. Boxes 1-2: Shelved in SPEC MSS record center cartons
  2. Removals: Shelved in SPEC MSS mapcase


Processed and encoded by Anita Wellner, November 2013.


Finding aid for Jeffrey Bailey collection of James Leo Herlihy papers
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2013 November 7
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

181 South College Avenue
Newark DE 19717-5267 USA