Photos courtesy of the New York Public Library, Astor Lenox and Tilden Foundations and the J.D. Salinger Trust. Photographed by Robert Kato. From left to right, J.D. Salinger in Central Park, Salinger’s Royal typewriter, J.D. Salinger at his writing desk at his home in Cornish, New Hampshire.

Opening on October 18th, a new exhibition at the New York Public Library in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building will have hundreds of items from the J.D. Salinger Literary Trust shown to the public for the first time ever. This will include Salinger’s own typewriter, original typescript for The Catcher in the Rye and other stories, a bookcase from his bedroom, photographs and letters, and more. This treasure trove is particularly fascinating because of Salinger’s own reticence as a public figure. The exhibition is curated by Salinger’s son Matt Salinger and widow Colleen Salinger with Declan Kiely, Director of Special Collections and Exhibitions at the Library, to coincide with the centennial of Salinger’s birth.

J.D. Salinger with typewriter in Normandy, France. Photo courtesy New York Public Library.

Matt Salinger states, “When my father’s long-time publisher, Little, Brown and Company, first approached me with plans for his Centennial year my immediate reaction was that he would not like the attention. He was a famously private man who shared his work with millions, but his life and non-published thoughts with less than a handful of people, including me. 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.”

J. D. Salinger on the deck of the M.S. Kungsholm, 1941. Photo courtesy New York Public Library.

The exhibition will also have a description Salinger penned about himself, for a 1982 legal document, reading in part:

I am a professional short-story writer and novelist. I write fiction and only fiction. For more than thirty years, I have lived and done my work in rural New Hampshire. I was married here and my two children were raised here. . . . 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.

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