Skip to main content

Nelson Algren Papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-152

Scope and Content of the Collection

Includes typescripts of three works by Algren: “The Woman One Roof Away”, “The Chevalier of Vain Regrets” (signed), and “God Bless the Lonesome Gas Man” (signed). Also, two articles about Algren when he left Chicago in 1975.


  • Creation: 1960-1975



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Nelson Algren Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Nelson Algren Papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biography of Nelson Algren

Chicago writer.

Born Nelson Algren Abraham in Detroit in 1909, Algren grew up in Chicago, where he lived in the blue-collar neighborhoods of the city. After graduating from the University of Illinois in 1931, he began drifting around the country working at whatever jobs he could find until he made the decision to become a writer.

During World War II Algren served in the military as a private, and after demobilization in 1945, settled in various poor neighborhoods of Chicago, spending his time reading and writing short stories. His novel of 1949, The Man With the Golden Arm, was his biggest success, winning the National Book Award and becoming a movie. Nine years later, his second novel to be filmed was A Walk on the Wild Side. Algren’s body of work, based as it is on much of the seamy side of life, is in the tradition of American social realism, so that he has been described as the poet of the underworld.

Algren moved from Chicago to Paterson, New Jersey, in 1975. He died of a heart attack in 1981.


0.1 Linear Feet (4 folders)


Includes three typescripts of Algren works (2 signed), and two articles about Algren when he permanently left Chicago in 1975.

Collection Stack Location

1 1 2


Gift, Kit Pelletreau, 1991.

Processed by

Virginia Hay Smith, 2008.

Inventory of the Nelson Algren Papers, 1960-1975
Virginia Hay Smith
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 7/27/2011: Revisions, additions, and updates were made.

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States