Armed with two English degrees and a law degree, Higgins became a journalist for the Associated Press, The Boston Globe and The Wall Street Journal, as well as a federal prosecutor, district attorney and defense attorney, novelist, critic, historian and a creative writing professor at Boston University (1988-1999). He was also a fierce Red Sox loyalist, so much so that he wrote a book on Boston baseball in 1989 titled The Progress of the Seasons: Forty Years of Baseball in Our Town.
Higgins was famous for creating memorable characters in hard-boiled fiction and telling his stories through dialogue. According to The New Yorker, "Higgins is almost uniquely blessed with a gift of voices, each of them...as distinctive as the fingerprint." Higgins wrote 26 novels, featuring ultra-realistic stories about individuals in crisis: criminals, police officers, lawyers and politicians. His work has been cited as an influence by authors ranging from Elmore Leonard and James Ellroy to David Mamet. His first published novel, the bestselling The Friends of Eddie Coyle, was hailed by The Observer as one of the top 20 American novels of the 20th century. In addition, Higgins wrote 4 nonfiction books, scores of short stories, newspaper and feature-length magazine journalism, literary criticism and book reviews, and hundreds of columns for major newspapers in Boston, Washington, D.C. and the Wall Street Journal. Despite his success at writing crime and legal fiction, Higgins didn’t consider himself a crime writer.
The George V. Higgins Archive includes Higgins’ literary, personal and legal papers for the full scope of his remarkable career: from his writing for the Boston College literary magazine, The Stylus, to his posthumously published book At End of Day (2000). Higgins earned international fame for his first novel The Friends of Eddie Coyle in 1972 for which the archive contains drafts, edited typescripts and proofs.
In addition to the celebrated Friends of Eddie Coyle, the collection features unpublished early fiction, research and typescripts for his non-fiction books, The Friends of Richard Nixon and Style and Substance. It includes drafts of Higgins's columns for the Boston Globe, the Boston-Herald American and for legal journals, as well as files from his work as defense attorney for Eldridge Cleaver and G. Gordon Liddy. A substantial cache of unpublished fiction and screenplays from the 1980s and 1990s also is included. The memorabilia includes photos, his Boston Red Sox press pass, his vehicle license tags as an assistant U.S. attorney, his gun permit, yacht pennants and the cornet he played in the Boston College Marching Band.
The George V. Higgins Archive is open for research and the finding aid to the collection can be accessed by following the link on the left.