Theodore Dreiser's Private Library
Copyright © Roark Mulligan, 2002
Roark Mulligan, "Dreiser's Private Library"-- an essay originally published in Dreiser Studies 33.2 (2002): 40-76.
Appendix 1: Dreiser Library of American Realism
Appendix 2: Books with Marginalia
Appendix 3: The full list of books, arranged alphabetically by author:
Christopher Newport University
Over his lifetime, Theodore Dreiser amassed a library of more than 1,900 volumes, excluding works that he wrote himself. In 1949, the University of Pennsylvania purchased Dreiser's manuscripts and a majority of his books from Helen Dreiser for $16,500, and in 1958, the remainder of the library arrived in several shipments as gifts from Helen's estate.
At present, the Van Pelt Library at the University of Pennsylvania has Dreiser's library arranged according to when the books were received, and the acquisition lists that were prepared when the different shipments arrived in Philadelphia offer the best catalogue of the collection--the acquisition numbers "49D-" or "58D-" indicate the year that the books arrived (1949 or 1958).
The following bibliography was originally compiled by analyzing the acquisition lists and by examining the actual collection. Since Dreiser's library contains over one thousand, nine hundred books, compiling the following inventory was a daunting task, and this list of books certainly contains errors, but I hope that the availability of this information will encourage others to annotate, correct, and augment this record of Dreiser's books.
I wish to thank Nancy Shawcross, Lynne Farrington, John Pollack, and the special collections staff of the Van Pelt Library for making Dreiser's library available. In addition, I wish to thank Keith Newlin and Steve Brennan for their expert editing and for their numerous suggestions, additions, and corrections.