NYPL celebrates centennial of J.D. Salinger’s birth with archive of 200 rare items from the author

Posted On Tue, October 8, 2019 By

Posted On Tue, October 8, 2019 By In Events

J.D. Salinger on the deck of the M.S. Kungsholm, 1941; Courtesy of the New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations and the J.D. Salinger Literary Trust

The life of famously private author J.D. Salinger will be the focus of a new New York Public Library exhibit. To mark the centennial of The Catcher in the Rye writer’s birth, the library will display more than 200 items from Salinger’s life, most of which have never before been seen by the public. The exhibition, “J.D. Salinger,” includes family photographs from his time growing up in Manhattan, his own typewriter, and original typescript and proofs.


J.D. Salinger in Central Park, undated; Courtesy of the New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations and the J.D. Salinger Literary Trust


J.D. Salinger with typewriter in Normandy, France, 1944; Courtesy of the New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations and the J.D. Salinger Literary Trust

Salinger’s son Matt Salinger and widow Collen Salinger organized the exhibit, loaning the library items from the J.D. Salinger Literary Trust. Matt Salinger hesitated when first asked to open an exhibit dedicated to his father.

“But I’ve learned that while he may have only fathered two children there are a great, great many readers out there who have their own rather profound relationships with him, through his work, and who have long wanted an opportunity to get to know him better,” he said.

“The Library has given us this opportunity, and while it is but a glimpse into my father’s life, it is my hope that lifting the veil a bit with this exhibition will throw some light on the man I knew and loved that will be welcomed by many.”


J.D. Salinger portrait by E. Michael Mitchell. Pencil on paper, undated; Courtesy of the New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations and the J.D. Salinger Literary Trust

 Addendum for affidavit, August 31 1982; Courtesy of the New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations and the J.D. Salinger Literary Trust

Notably, the exhibition also includes a description of J.D. Salinger’s life, written by himself in 1982. It reads, in part: “I have been writing fiction rather passionately, singlemindedly, perhaps insatiably, since I was fifteen or so…I positively rejoice to imagine that, sooner or later, the finished product safely goes to the ideal private reader, alive or dead or yet unborn, male or female or possibly neither.”

Starting Oct. 18, check out the free exhibit at the Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III Gallery at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. The archive will be on display until Jan. 19 of next year.

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Photos courtesy of the New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations and the J.D. Salinger Literary Trust, Photographed by Robert Kato

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