Tom Wolfe’s Archives Sell for Over $2 Million

New York Public Library buys collection
Author Tom Wolfe sold his archives collection to the New York Public Library for $2.15 million

Author Tom Wolfe sold his archives collection to the New York Public Library for $2.15 million / AP


The New York Public Library bought Tom Wolfe’s manuscripts for $2.15 million the New York Times reported Wednseday.

The collection features hundreds of boxes of Wolfe’s research, rough drafts, and outlines of his novels. It also contains over 10,000 letters to Wolfe dating back to the 1950’s and includes notes from other esteemed authors such as William F. Buckley Jr., Hunter S. Thompson, and Gay Talese.

The Times reports:

Mr. Wolfe is credited with inventing the New Journalism in the 1960s, when, hard against a deadline for an article about California’s custom-car scene for Esquire, he sent his unvarnished notes to his editor at the magazine, which printed them pretty much as they were in 1964, under the title “There Goes (Varoom! Varoom!) That Kandy-Kolored (Thphhhhhh!) Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (Rahghhh!) Around the Bend (Brummmmmmmmmmmmmmm)…”

The library’s acquisition includes material for that article and just about every other significant work of journalism by Mr. Wolfe, including “Radical Chic,” the 1970 New York magazine piece (also published in book form) that mocked the cultural elite’s embrace of the Black Panthers, and “Stalking the Billion-Footed Beast,” the much-debated 1989 Harper’s article that accused American novelists of abandoning social realism, which Mr. Wolfe said he sought to revive with “The Bonfire of the Vanities” (1987), his best-selling novel about class, greed, race and politics in 1980s New York.

The archive also includes interviews with historically significant figures like the test pilot Chuck Yeager, featured in “The Right Stuff” (1979), that didn’t make it into the finished book.