Collection ID: LMC 2958
Printable View Printable View

Collection context


Wolff, Tobias, 1945-
The Wolff mss., 1934-2016, consist of the writings, correspondence, and born-digital material of memoirist Tobias Wolff.
20 Boxes
English .
Preferred citation:

[Item], Wolff mss., Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.


Biographical / Historical:

Tobias Wolff was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1945. The events of his early life form the basis of his bestselling memoir, This Boy's Life (published 1989). After his parents' separation when he was 4 years old, Wolff was raised by his mother, Rosemary, in Washington state, and lost contact with his brother Geoffrey, who went to live with their father on the East Coast; the two were reunited later in life. (Geoffrey Wolff has published his own memoir about their biological father, The Duke of Deception). Rosemary subsequently married an abusive man, and Tobias escaped by fabricating his grades and extracurriculars to get into The Hill School. Upon the discovery of his forged transcripts, he was expelled. Wolff is also the author of a second memoir, In Pharaoh's Army (published 1994), about his U.S. Army service in Vietnam from 1964 to 1968.

In addition to his memoirs, Wolff is also known for his short stories, which have been published in The New Yorker and The Atlantic and have been collected in the volumes In the Garden of the North American Martyrs (1981), Back in the World (1985), The Night in Question (1996), and Our Story Begins (2008). He won the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1985 for his Vietnam novella The Barrack's Thief.

Wolff taught creative writing at Syracuse University from 1980 until 1997, where he served on the faculty with Raymond Carver and mentored writers including Tom Perrotta, Alice Sebold, and Paul Watkins. He left Syracuse in 1997 in the fallout from the Stephen Dobyns sexual harassment case and now serves on the faculty at Stanford University.

Scope and Content:

Series I. Writings consists of manuscripts and drafts of Tobias Wolff's works, including fragments and early papers. The series begins with short pieces published in various periodicals and then segues into his published books. The series also includes materials on movie adaptations of Wolff's work, notably two scripts of the 1993 adaptation of This Boy's Life in which Leonardo diCaprio played Wolff and Robert De Niro played Wolff's stepfather.

Series II. Correspondence consists of largely incoming personal and professional correspondence from Wolff's circle of friends, including many writers from Syracuse University. Of particular note are letters from author Raymond Carver to Wolff.

Series III. Childhood and Family consists of family correspondence, family photographs, and Wolff's coursework for school. The series includes some letters from Wolff to his mother, Rosemary (Loftus) Hutchins while he was in Vietnam, as well as Rosemary's memoirs, which describe her early life, her marriage to Geoffrey and Tobias's father, Duke, through Tobias's first year at The Hill School.

Wolff's teaching files, interviews and reviews, and born-digital material complete the collection.

Acquisition information:
Purchase: 2017
Processing information:

Boxes 1-18 processed by Kyra Triebold. Completed in 2022.

Boxes 19-20 processed separately, in 2023.

Born digital material has not yet been processed.


This collection is arranged into the following series: I. Writings, II. Correspondence, III. Childhood and Family, IV. Professional Files, and V. Audio-Visual and Born Digital.

The correspondence series generally maintains Wolff's categories for filing ("Nice letters," "Letters from writers A," "Letters from writers B," etc.), though chronological arrangement was added and correspondence from single individuals was separated out where there was a sizeable amount.

Physical location:
ALF (Auxiliary Library Facility)



This collection is open for research.

Many collections are housed offsite; retrieval requires advance notice. Please make an appointment a minimum of one week in advance of your visit.


Photography and digitization may be restricted for some collections. Copyright restrictions may apply. Before publishing, researchers are responsible for securing permission from all applicable rights holders, then filling out the Permission to Publish form.


[Item], Wolff mss., Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.

Indiana University Bloomington
1200 East Seventh Street
Bloomington, Indiana 47405-5500, USA
Indiana University Bloomington
(812) 855-2452