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James T. Farrell-Cleo Paturis papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Farrell-Paturis

Scope and Content of the Collection

Letters, writings, reviews, miscellany, photographs and audio tapes of James T. Farrell and his longtime companion, Cleo Paturis, all relating to Farrell.

Papers include a small amount of Farrell correspondence, and a sizable collection of his notes and short works, mostly in typescript or photocopy, and some published articles from newspapers and magazines. Miscellaneous material includes his address files, inventories of his works, reviews and articles concerning his work, high school publications, a collection of Chicago Cubs cigarette baseball cards from 1909-1910, a file of clippings about civil rights advocate Bayard Rustin, tombstone information and obituaries, photographs, and a large collection of audiocassettes of lectures and speeches, including a 1976 interview of Farrell for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Also, several copies of Cleo Paturis’ unpublished memoir of her time with Farrell and her synopsis of his work, and her extensive correspondence with various friends and admirers of Farrell’s, most notably Sidney Hook, Mary McCarthy, Paul R. Porter, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. and Mr. And Mrs. Kurt Vonnegut. There is a large group of condolence letters upon Farrell’s death, material relating to the publication of Studs Lonigan, plus two Farrell centennial conferences held in 2004, with signatures on reply postcards of Edward Albee, Saul Bellow and Tom Wolfe.


  • Creation: 1909-2006
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1949-2006



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The James T. Farrell-Cleo Paturis papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The James T. Farrell-Cleo Paturis 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 at

Biography of James T. Farrell

Born in southwest Chicago in 1904 to immigrant Irish parents, James T. Farrell was the first of his working-class family to attend college. His boyhood was tough, but once he pushed hard for an education and found some success in publishing short stories and newspaper articles, he became committed to a literary career.

Throughout his life Farrell was involved in socialist and liberal causes and committees and was well educated in political and social issues. He was a prolific writer, establishing himself as a realist in the naturalistic tradition of Theodore Dreiser and Frank Norris. He said himself about the consistent themes in his novels, sketches, short stories, articles and plays: “The purpose of these works is…to recreate a sense of American life as I have seen it, as I have imagined it, and as I have reflected upon it and evaluated it.”

Perhaps Farrell’s greatest achievement is the Studs Lonigan trilogy, published as a unit in 1935, and then the five books about Danny O’Neill, published between 1936 and 1953. Although all his life he wrote every day and his published work continued to be concerned with capturing aspects of American experience as he perceived it, Farrell is best remembered for the Studs novels.

Farrell was married twice to Dorothy Butler and once to actress Hortense Alden, with whom he had two sons, Kevin and John. In 1965 he settled down in Manhattan – where he had lived for many years – with his close friend Cleo Paturis. After his death in 1979, Paturis devoted herself to preserving his reputation as one of America’s most important authors.


3.3 Linear Feet (7 boxes and 3 cassette boxes)


Stories, articles, manuscript and photocopy drafts and notes by Farrell; a small collection of Farrell correspondence; miscellaneous material including reviews and appreciations of Farrell’s work; photographs of Farrell, Paturis, friends and occasions; and many audiocassettes of Farrell lectures, speeches and interviews. Paturis material includes several drafts of her unpublished memoir of her life with Farrell, a synopsis of his work, correspondence dating mainly after Farrell’s death in 1979, and a miscellany concerning conferences on Farrell’s career and posthumous publications of Studs Lonigan.


Papers are organized in the following series:

Series 1: James T. Farrell, ca. 1909-2004
Boxes 1-4
Series 2: Cleo Paturis, 1974-2006
Boxes 5-6
Series 3: Photographs, 1912-2004
Box 7
Series 4: Audiocassettes, 1955-1982 and undated
Boxes 8-10

Conditions Governing Audiovisual Access

Audiovisual recordings in this collection have been digitized. Researchers may access materials in the Special Collections Reading Room.

Collection Stack Location

1 17 7


Gift, Cleo Paturis, 2004, 2006.

Processed by

Virginia Hay Smith, 2011.

Inventory of the James T. Farrell-Cleo Paturis papers, 1909-2006, bulk 1949-2006
Virginia H. Smith
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

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

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States