Elmore Leonard papers announcement

Good morning.  It’s great to see you.  I have terrific news!  I am pleased to announce that the University of South Carolina has acquired the manuscripts and personal papers of the unique American novelist Elmore Leonard. 

Elmore Leonard was one of the most important American writers of the second half of the 20th century.  He began his career writing westerns, but his real fame came as a writer of crime fiction. Elmore was prolific and has 45 best-selling novels.  He influenced a generation of writers and continues to do so today.

Nearly every one of his works was made into a motion picture or television series.  Here are just some of the titles and the players: 

“Mr. Majestic” (Charles Bronson), “Hombre” (Paul Newman), “Get Shorty” (John Travolta), “Justified” (Tim Olyphant), “Joe Kidd” (Clint Eastwood), “Valdez is Coming” (Burt Lancaster), “The Ambassador” (Robert Michum), “3:10 to Yuma” (first movie Glenn Ford, second Russell Crowe), “Jackie Brown” (Pam Grier and Samuel Jackson), “Be Cool” (John Travolta), “Out of Sight” (George Clooney), “The Big Bounce” (Owen Wilson), “Killshot” (Mickey Rourke), and this year, “Life of Crime” (Jennifer Aniston and Tim Robbins). This is only a partial list.

And now, it is all here: the manuscripts to the novels, the screenplays to the movies, research files, letters, and photographs. One hundred fifty boxes of materials and 2,400 linear feet of documents. For those who are counting, that is almost half a mile of materials. Each page is unique primary research materials that will bring researchers from around the world to our university.

I had the great opportunity to meet Elmore Leonard and his son Peter, who is also a wonderful writer, here on campus on May 2, 2013.  We had a wonderful evening together, and as I like to do, I brought out a new baseball for both of them to sign.  Peter signed his name, Peter Leonard, on one side and Elmore signed “Dutch” Leonard on the other. I cherish this ball. For now, it will remain in the President’s collection. In the future, who knows? It just might become part of this one.   

In August of 2013, when Elmore Leonard passed away, the New York Times article read, “To his admiring peers, Mr. Leonard did more than merely validate the popular crime thriller; he stripped the form of its worn-out affectations, reinventing it for a new generation and lifting it to a higher literary shelf.”

Today, we’re so happy that his works have been relocated to the University of South Carolina’s literary shelves and will join the works of Hemingway, George V. Higgins, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Joseph Heller and Pat Conroy.  

Elmore Leonard will live at the University of South Carolina.