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Frederick Robert Karl papers

Identifier: SCU-RBSC-2000-1

The distinguished literary biographer and critic Frederick R. Karl was born in Brooklyn, NY, in 1927. After service in the US Navy, 1944-46, he attended Columbia University and Stanford. He taught at City College of CUNY from 1957-1982, and since 1982 has been Professor of English at New York University.

Mr. Karl's literary archive covers his biographies of four major writers - Joseph Conrad (1979), William Faulkner (1989), Franz Kafka (1991), and George Eliot (1995) - with a very full (and well organized) record of the stages through which he researched, drafted, developed, and edited each project. In addition, the archive includes similarly detailed material both for Mr. Karl's other books - his novel of world War II Italy, The Quest (1961) and two major critical works on modern American fiction - and also for a major long-term editorial project, the Joseph Conrad letters (1983-), for which he corresponded with over 2000 Conrad collectors, scholars and librarians. The archive includes letters from other leading bibliographers (Leon Edel, Joseph Blotner, Lionel Trilling), as well as from other significant correspondents (for instance, Bertrand Russell, John Barth).

The Frederick R. Karl Archive supports Thomas Cooper Library's project of building research collections (book and manuscript materials) to document the achievements of literary biography.


  • 1961 - 1996


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Information on copyright and other restrictions available from Rare Books and Special Collections, Thomas Cooper Library, University of South Carolina.


64 boxes (65 linear ft.)


1927 Born April 10 in Brooklyn, New York

1944 – 1946 U.S. Navy

1948 B.A. Columbia College

1949 M.A. Stanford University

1957 Ph.D. Columbia University

1957 – 1982 English Department, City College of the City University of New York

1959 Author, A Reader’s Guide to Great Twentieth Century English Novels (Noonday)

1960 Author, A Reader’s Guide to Joseph Conrad (Farrar, Straus)

1961 Author, The Quest (Heinemann)

1962 Author, The Contemporary English Novel (Farrar, Straus)

1963 Author, C.P. Snow: The Politics of Conscience (Southern Illinois UP)

1963 Co-editor, The Existential Imagination (Fawcett)

1963 Co-editor, Short Fiction of the Masters (Putnam)

1965 Author, A Reader’s Guide to the Nineteenth Century British Novel (Putnam)

1966 Fulbright Grant in American Literature; Guggenheim Fellowship

1967 Co-author, The Shape of Fiction: British and American Short Stories (McGraw-Hill)

1970 Co-editor, The Radical Vision: Essays for the Seventies (Crowell)

1974 Author, The Adversary Literature; the English Novel in the Eighteenth Century (Farrar, Straus)

1978, 1988 National Endowment for the Humanities senior research grant

1978 Co-author, Everything You Need to Know About Grammar (Fawcett Crest)

1979 Author, Joseph Conrad: Three Lives (Farrar, Straus)

1982 Professor of English, New York University

1983 Author, American Fictions, 1940-1980: A Comprehensive History and Critical Evaluation (Harper & Row)

1983, 1987, 1988 Co-editor, The Collected Letters of Joseph Conrad, Volumes 1, 2, 3 (Cambridge UP)

1984 New York University research fellow

1985 Author, Modern and Modernism: The Sovereignty of the Artist 1885 – 1925 (Atheneum)

1985 Introduction, The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (Signet) Editor and introduction, The Signet Classic Book of British Short Stories (New American Library)

1986 Afterword, The Story of King Arthur and His Knightswritten and illustrated by Howard Pyle (New American Library)

1989 Author, William Faulkner American Writer: A Biography (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

1991 Author, Franz Kafka: Representative Man (Tickner & Fields)

1994 Editor, Biography and Source Studies, v. 1 (AMS)

1995 Author, George Eliot: Voice of a Century (W.W. Norton)


The Frederick R. Karl Papers (1961-1995) were acquired through purchase in 1999.

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

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