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James Ellroy archive

Identifier: SCU-RBSC-1999-1

The James Ellroy Archive at the University of South Carolina contains manuscripts, typescripts, drafts, notes, and research material for most of Ellroy's works. These items show the steps, from initial story outline to publication, that were taken to bring his writing to life: the author uses extensive longhand in writing out his ideas. Many of the manuscripts contain handwritten corrections made during the revision process. The largest sections of material are for his novels The Cold Six Thousand, L.A. Confidential, and memoir My Dark Places. The majority of the material for L.A. Confidential documents the Academy Award-winning movie which was based on the book. The collection also contains material for all of his published works including his writing in popular magazines such as GQ. The arrangement of the collection is chronological based to highlight the manuscripts, typescripts, drafts, notes, and research material used in the author’s writing: this pattern was followed for each series. Following the biography and correspondence series the book series is divided into novels and nonfiction material. The major representation in the nonfiction section is the author’s book My Dark Places. Each section is based on the publication chronology of the books. The "About James Ellroy" series includes written material about the author and his work. The majority of it is from magazines and newspapers, but also contains different forms of expression; a Master’s thesis and book draft. The Photographs series is focused on pictures of the author and his mother when they were children and adults. Audio / Video contains many recordings of interviews given by the author. In addition it also includes a T.V. series’ production dailies. The Realia & Miscellanea series includes a child’s nurse costume. It was made by Ellroy’s mother and friends. Their handiwork was given to a child who was born at the hospital where they worked. Years later when the recipient was an adult it was given to the author with an explanation of the history behind the gift. Oversized material rounds out the collections series. It mainly consists of large newspapers containing articles by and about Ellroy. The material in the collection is the culmination of two major acquisitions, in 1999 and 2001. The archive also includes a, separately housed, collection of framed dust jackets, articles, movie posters, and magazine profiles of Ellroy. A 2009 accession, added at box 170, includes material related to short pieces, screenplays, and the novel Blood's A Rover, all worked on between 2006 and 2009. The 2011 accession, beginning at box 192, includes information and materials related to James Ellroy’s life, along with material related to short pieces and screenplays. The accession also includes publicity and reviews and materials, as well as works by others, related to several novels, particularly American Tabloid, The Hilliker Curse, and Perfidia, all worked on between 1982 and 2014. The 2015 accession, beginning at box 214, includes biographical information and materials providing information about James Ellroy and his personal life, personal and business correspondence, materials related to short works, screenplays, and several of his novels, particularly White Jazz, American Tabloid, Destination: Morgue and Perfidia. The collection also includes works by others, photographs, audio and video materials, a large collection of magazines, and framed art and awards, all worked (or awarded) between 1979 and 2015.


  • 1915 -


Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

Materials in this collection are not to be reproduced without written permission from Rare Books and Special Collections, University of South Carolina.


285 boxes


Multiple acquisitions, 1991, 2001, 2009, 2011, 2015.

Related Materials

Related Ellroy Material in Thomas Cooper Library:

•L.A. Confidential and White Jazz book manuscripts.

•James Ellroy book collection, including numerous foreign editions.

•Various secondary literature on Ellroy.

Repository Details

Part of the Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections Repository

Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library
1322 Greene Street
Columbia SC 29208 USA
(803) 777-3847

Bruce Langley, Deb Green, Jeffrey Makala, Teresa Tobias, and Adam Crosby
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