Archives of Harold Ober Associates

The New York literary agency Folio Literary Management recently acquired Harold Ober Associates, the distinguished New York literary agency, and has agreed to donate 90 archival boxes of additional Ober archives to the Princeton University Library. Harold Ober Associates was founded in 1929 by Harold Ober (1881-1959), whose career as a literary agent began in 1907 at the Paul R. Reynolds Literary Agency. Ober’s own literary agency came to represent an impressive list of leading 20th-century authors, including Sherwood Anderson, Catherine Drinker Bowen, Pearl S. Buck, Agatha Christie, Walter Edmonds, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Gunther, Langston Hughes, S. J. Perelman, J. D. Salinger, Muriel Spark, Dylan Thomas, and Philip Wylie. Below is a photo of older Ober files relating to the efforts of Harold Ober and Judge John Biggs (executor of the Estate of F. Scott Fitzgerald) to interest publishers in the author’s unpublished work after his sudden death in 1940. Harold Ober Associates has been donating its archives to Princeton for a half century. The Archives of Harold Ober Associates (C0129) already contained some 300 linear feet of Ober author files (1929-2002); as well as files of the agency’s three British affiliates based in London: David Higham Associates (1965-1972), Bolt & Watson Limited (1971-72), and Hughes Massie Limited (1968-1972). The additional Ober records, arriving in October, include both recent correspondence files (2003-15) and selected older agency records, including ledgers, appointment books, biographical files, and miscellaneous documents, which should be arranged and described, probably in the next year.

From the 1880s to the present, literary agents and agencies the United States, England, and other countries have served as representatives of authors, artists, and others (including their estates) for commercial dealings with publishers, editors, movie producers, theaters, media, and others. The archives of literary agencies are a valuable source of documentation for the study of particular authors and books, and nicely complement publishing archives. Since the 1940s, when Princeton faculty and librarians first became interested in the research potential of collecting contemporary authors’s papers, the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections has been acquiring the archives of publishers and literary agencies, mostly American and British. In addition to Harold Ober Associates and its British affiliates, the Manuscripts Division holds the Brandt & Brandt Contract Files (C0732); David Lloyd Agency Records on Pearl S. Buck (C0060); Laurence Pollinger Ltd. Files Concerning D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover (C0956); and the George Nicholson Sterling Lord Literistic Author Files (C0956). In addition, various collections of authors’ papers and publishing archives in the Manuscripts Division contain individual files about American and British literary agencies. For more information, consult Finding Aids or contact Public Services at rbsc@princeton.edu

Ober Archives

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