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MS Am 2086

Cheever, John. John Cheever journals, circa 1934-1982: Guide.

Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University


Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 USA

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: Harvard Depository
Call No.: MS Am 2086
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Creator: Cheever, John.
Title: John Cheever journals,
Date(s): 1934-1982.
Quantity: 1 collection (3.75 linear feet (28 volumes, 1 carton)
Language of materials: Materials are in English.
Abstract: Journals of the American writer John Cheever.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

90M-60. Journals purchased from Mary W. Cheever, Cedar Lane, Ossining, New York; received: 1990 July 26.

Processing Information:

Processed by: Melanie Wisner
Cheever only occasionally dated his journal entries; dates have been assigned mainly on the basis of events mentioned in the text.
The journals were kept originally in three-ring binders with material sometimes inserted between leaves. The leaves have been removed and placed in folders; the binders are retained as item (29). The inserted material has been listed and placed at the end of the folder sequence for each journal.
Some leaves or sections of journals may have been moved from their original sequence by Cheever; for ease of reference, the journal leaves have been numbered by the cataloger in the order in which they were found.

Conditions Governing Access:

A portion of this collection is not housed at the Houghton Library but is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. Retrieval requires advance notice. Readers should check with Houghton Public Services staff to determine what material is offsite and retrieval policies and times.

Conditions Governing Access:

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material. Formerly restricted until 2000 July 17.

Preferred Citation for Publication:

John Cheever Journals, circa 1934-1982 (MS Am 2086). Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Biographical / Historical

John Cheever (1912-1982) was an American writer.


Approximately 5-7% of the journals were published in: Cheever, John. The journals of John Cheever. New York: Knopf, 1991. A more detailed analysis of the contents of the journals can be found in: Francis J. Bosha, "The John Cheever Journals at Harvard's Houghton Library" in Resources for American Literary Study, volume 31 (2007): 199-311. A copy is available in the curatorial file for the collection.


The journals are arranged chronologically.

Scope and Contents

The journals span approximately 48 years and reflect Cheever's personal and professional life. The journals note events of the day intermittently; they are first and foremost a record of Cheever's inner life. Within them he developed material for stories and novels and meditated on writing, sexuality, alcohol, marriage, children, and friends.
No attempt has been made here to record in detail all topics covered in the journals; some notes of events, places, and titles are taken from typed and manuscript summary notes inserted by family members or editors in the process of editing the journals for publication.
Some inserted items were left probably as place markers, by Cheever as he re-read the journals, or later by family members.


A portion of this collection is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. See use restrictions below for additional information.

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