In many of his short works and in his first three novels–-To An Early Grave (1964), Teitelbaum’s Window (1971), You Could Live If They Let You (1974)—Wallace Markfield wrote with satiric wit and Jewish humor about working-class New York characters he had observed during his growing-up years in Brooklyn from the 1930’s to 1950’s. Greatly interested in the movies, he often turned a camera eye on details of his milieu. Having suffered some disappointments in his own academic studies of history and in his academic appointments, he also turned a satiric eye on American academia. His fourth novel, Multiple Orgasms (1977), was published as a segment of a novel he never finished. There followed a long hiatus before he published his fifth novel, Radical Surgery (1991), a political thriller. He published little or no additional work. Wallace Markfield died May 24, 2002 at the age in 75 in Roslyn, New York.
For further bio-critical discussion, begin with WALLACE MARKFIELD in Dictionary of Literary Biography (DLB 2, 1984), and Contemporary Jewish-American Novelists (DLB 28, 1997), ed. Joel Shatsky and Michael Traub, pp. 215-217.
The collection of Wallace Markfield’s papers in the Rare Books and Special Collections Department in the Thomas Cooper Library at the University of South Carolina spans the years of publication of the last four of his five novels. Included in the collection are various outlines, typescript drafts and proofs of critical essays, and two unpublished plays. Also included are letters to Matthew J. Bruccoli dating from 1975-1983. In addition to the Markfield papers, Professor Bruccoli donated a collection of Markfield's published writings, accessible through the library's online catalogue USCAN.
Selected Biography and Bibliography
1926 Born August 12 in Brooklyn, grew up in Brooklyn
? Graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School
1947 B.A., Brooklyn College
1948-1950 Graduate work at New York University
1948 Married Anna May Goodman
? Daughter – Andrea Kate
1952 In addition to the years teaching college (as noted below) and some time off for full-time writing (supported by a Guggenheim Fellowship and a National Institute of Arts and Letters grant), Markfield was at various times a publicity writer for the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Fund, the Council of Jewish Federations and American Jewish Committee, and the Anti-Defamation League. In 1954 and 1955 he also wrote film critiques for the New Leader.
1964 To An Early Grave
1966-68 Assistant Professor, San Francisco State College
1968-69 Writer in residence, Kirkland College (NY)
1971-73 Assistant Professor, Queens College (CUNY)
1971 Teitelbaum’s Window
1974 You Could Live If They Let You
1977 Multiple Orgasms
1991 Radical Surgery
2002 Died May 24 in Roslyn, New York
Throughout his writing career, Markfield contributed at least 40 articles to periodicals.
After 1991, Markfield’s writing apparently slowed down or stopped. According to the LC catalog, Markfield published no volumes after Radical Surgery (1991).
The information above was found in the Dictionary of Literary Biography (1984), 28:175-81; Contemporary Jewish-American Novelists (1997); Contemporary Authors (1978), 69-72:399; Contemporary Novelists (6th ed., 1996); and Contemporary Authors, Autobiography Series, Vol. 3 (1986). For source citations on Markfield, see the pages in the Biography and Genealogy Master Index (University of South Carolina – DISCUS) and other materials in the Finding List, Box 8, Folder 9.
The Markfield collection is contained in numbered and labeled folders in 8 boxes.
Box 1 (2 folders)
Folder 1—Teitelbaum’s Window (1971), Advance Proofs, Uncorrected, Spiral Bound
Folder 2—You Could Live If They Let You (1974), Galley Proofs
Box 2 (7 folders) Multiple Orgasms (1977)
Folder 1—Letters & documents re: printing
Folder 2—Typescript copies, some marks for printer
Folder 3—[Early] draft pp.1 & 2
Folder 4—Typescript, 41 pp.
Folder 5—Incomplete draft
Folder 6—Galley Proofs, 3 sets, 1 marked for printer; 1 WM’s corrected set
Box 3 (8 folders) Markfield, “Afterword” to Peter Martin’s The Landsmen (1977)
Folder 1—Letters from Markfield to Matthew J. Bruccoli; Dec. 9 ,
Feb. 19, 1977, Mar. 22, 1977 re: “Afterword” to The Landsmen
Folder 2—“Afterword,” typescript draft
Folder 3—“Afterword,” typescript draft
Folder 4—“Afterword,” typescript draft [perhaps final draft copy]
Folder 5—Typescript for “Afterword” and for “Editor’s Note” (Matthew J. Bruccoli)
Folder 6—Printer’s copy for “Afterword” and for “Editor’s Note”
Folder 7—Galley proofs for “Afterword” and for “Editor’s Note”
Folder 8—Page proofs for “Afterword” and for “Editor’s Note”
Box 4 (4 folders) Radical Surgery (1991)
Folder 1—pp. 1-8
Box 5 (3 folders) Radical Surgery (1991)
Folder 1—Typescript with corrections, 206 pp.
Folder 2—Author’s synopsis, 206 pp.
Typescript with corrections
Folder 3—Incomplete typescript
Box 6 (3 folders) Radical Surgery (1991)
Folder 1—Typescript with corrections, 410 pp.
Folder 2—Typescript with corrections, 410 pp.
Folder 3—Incomplete typescript beginning with Ch. 11
Box 7 (4 folders) Radical Surgery (1991)
Folder 1—Mechanicals (registered by MJB, 10/23/97)
Title page –Ch.10 (p.123)
Folder 2—Chs. 11-20 (pp.124-249)
Folder 3—Chs.21-24 (pp.250-358)
Folder 4—Ch.25—Epilogue (pp.359-514)
Box 8 (10 folders)
Correspondence to Matthew J. Bruccoli
Folder 1—1975-76 (15 letters)
Folder 2—1977 (15 letters)
Folder 3—1978-83 (16 letters)
2 sheets on Markfield’s appearance on University of South Carolina campus, Oct. 12, 1977
Wallace Markfield’s resume (n.d.)
Folder 4—Miscellaneous correspondence (re: Radical Surgery), 1991 [?])
Folder 5—Typescript for Steeple Chase, an unpublished play, n.d.
Folder 6—“The Graves of Academe” (an essay, 1976) 2 typescript copies, galley proofs, an envelope addressed to Matthew J. Bruccoli, Jan. 6, 1976
Folder 7—Outline for “The Passionate Movie-Goer,” unpublished essay, n.d.
Folder 8—Xerox copy, The Offshore Pirate (an unpublished play, 1977)
Folder 9—Opening pages to ?
Biographical/Critical articles; Bibliography