Collection Dates: 1934 -- 1952
1.5 linear ft.
This document describes a collection of materials held
Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1420
Posted to Internet: August 1999
Hall gave these papers to the University of Iowa Libraries in increments from
1948 through 1950, with an additional gift made by his wife in 1952.
Mr. Hall gave these papers to the University of Iowa Libraries in increments from 1948 through 1950, with an additional gift made by his wife in 1952.
and Restrictions: This collection is open
This collection is open for research.
Digital Surrogates: Except where indicated, this document describes but does not reproduce the actual text, images and objects which make up this collection. Materials are available only in the Special Collections Department.
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Abbreviations: For an explanation of the abbreviation and dating conventions used in the finding aids, see Abbreviations.
A Native of Colfax, Iowa, James Norman Hall (1887 -- 1951) graduated from Grinnell College in 1908. He did some postgraduate work at the University of Chicago and was employed as a social worker for the Boston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. His 1914 bicycle trip through Great Britain was interrupted by the outbreak of the First World War. He joined the British Army and fought in the trenches of France as a machine gunner. Hall returned to the United States in 1915, where he wrote of these experiences in his first book, Kitchener's Mob. When Atlantic Monthly hired him to write about the Lafayette Flying Corps, Hall joined it instead. He flew many sorties and had his planes taken out by enemy fire more than once. In 1918, he transferred to an American unit. Shot down again, this time he was captured and spent the rest of the war as a German prisoner-of-war.
In 1919, James Norman Hall and Charles Nordhoff (who had first met as aviators in the flying corps) were commisioned to write a history of the Lafayette Escadrille. The Lafayette Flying Corps was the first of twelve books that they would co-author over the years. The two men moved to Tahiti in 1920. Their first collaboration there resulted in Faery Lands of the South Seas. However, their most successfull novel, Mutiny on the Bounty, was not written until 1932. Nordhoff eventually left Tahiti, but Hall remained there until his death.
Hall had been a published
writer before his partnership with Nordhoff, and he continued to have his own
works published. He was a frequent contributor of articles and poems to the
Atlantic Monthly. One such article revealed a literary hoax perpetrated
by Carroll Coleman and himself concerning Hall's "Fern Gravel" poems. Oh,
Millersville!, which was originally attributed to a very young girl (Fern
Gravel), had generated enormous critical acclaim and caused quite a stir in
the literary world when the hoax was revealed. In all, James Norman Hall authored
seventeen of his own books, numerous essays, short stories, and poems, in addition
to twelve books he wrote with Charles Nordhoff. Although most people remember
Hall as a writer of adventure stories, he always considered himself to be foremost
The papers of James Norman Hall date from 1934 to 1952, and consist of three boxes of literary manuscripts arranged alphabetically. His book The Far Lands is represented with various drafts of the foreward, preface and epilogue, and one draft of the entire book. Otherwise, the collection is entirely made up of drafts of his poetry, plays, essays, and articles. Separately acquired is a letter (MsL H177br) to Sharon Osborne Brown (1891-- ), Tahiti, 2 Dec, 1942, thanking him for sending "Present Tense," which he enjoyed very much. TLS, 1p.
Photographs: Box 2
The Call of Maui (The Far Lands)
Draft of forward and epilogue
Draft of forward, preface, prologue, and epilogue.
Draft (revised copy) (4 folders)
Pitcairn's Island. Chapter 19, fragment. Carbon copy with an annotation by L. O. Cheever.
"Food for Worms" First draft (with revisions)
"The Forgotten One" Draft (carbon copy)
"The Friends" Three drafts (with revisions)
"From Med to Mum" Atlantic Monthly, March and June 1934
"The G-Note Road" Draft (with revisions)
"The G-Note Road"
Atlantic Monthly, July 1949
Hanson, Louise M. James Norman Hall, 1887-1951: A Bibliography. 1976.
"How Goes Oliver's Battle?" Draft (with revisions)
"In Memoriam: Third Ypres" Draft
"Mother Bailey" Carbon
copy of a play suggested by the short story, "Uprooted," in Ruth Suckow's Iowa
Miscellaneous; book jacket, promotional brochure
"My Iowa Boyhood" Des Moines Sunday Register, November 30, 1952
"My Island Home" Atlantic Monthly, September -- December 1952
Newspaper and magazine clippings, 1915 -- 2004
"On a Hall Door" Draft (with revisions
"A Pair of Collaborators"
Draft (with revisions)
Replica of The Bounty (5)
Restored Hall home in Colfax, Iowa (3)
Poems for Nancy. A series of verses for his daughter for her first through seventeenth birthdays (some in this group may not be the ones intended for her [and some may be filed alphabetically by title rather than in this sequence)
1. "On a Park Bench" Draft (with corrections)
2. [Untitled poem]. Two drafts
3. "Soldier's Return" Draft (with revisions)
4. "Comfort that Turned Cold" Draft (with revisions)
5. Reading and Meditating. Draft (with revisions)
6. "On the Beach at Arue" Draft (revised, with corrections)
7."Emily Dickinson's Poems" Two drafts
8. Group of four poems
1) "Desert Landing"
2) "Thoughts in Exile"
3) "The Burden"
4) "Ancestral Memories" Draft
9. "How General Bowels may Contribute to the Welfare of General Good" Draft
10. "The Bore". Draft (revised version)
11. "Assembly in the Hall". Draft
12."Vigil at Locksley Hall" Two drafts
13. "The Watchdogs" Two drafts (with revisions)
14. "Tour de L'ile" Draft
15. "December In the Tropics" Draft
16. "The Old Hall Door" Draft (with revisions)
17. "Evening on a Coral Island" Draft
"Sans Patre" First draft of "Men Without Country"
Tale of a Shipwreck Printer's copy (carbon)
Thanksgiving Carbon copy of a play in three acts
"Under a Thatched Roof" Semi-final draft (carbon)
"Waves on Coral Beaches" Draft
"A Word for His Sponsor" Semi-final draft and letter from J.N. Hall to Grace Van Wormer, October 11, 1950