Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Cornell Woolrich papers, 1958-1964

Summary Information


This collection contains primarily articles and manuscripts by the crime writer Cornell Woolrich.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#1379
Bib ID 4079630 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Woolrich, Cornell, 1903-1968
Title Cornell Woolrich papers, 1958-1964
Physical Description 2 linear feet (4 document boxes)
Language(s) English .

This collection is located on-site.

This collection has no restrictions.



This collection is arranged in two series.



The bulk of the collection consists of drafts of articles, manuscripts, and plays. There is also a small amount of correspondence and personal items.

  • Series I: Subject Files, 1934-1968

    This small series holds correspondence between Cornell Woolrich and his friend William Thailing. The letters span the bulk of Woolrich's life. Of interest are several cancelled checks made out to Woolrich as payment for twelve stories, including his first story in a pulp magazine.

  • Series II: Writings, 1937-1960

    Series II contains drafts of several novels, plays, and a run of short stories. There are also portions of Woolrich's unpublished "autobiography."

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection is located on-site.

This collection has no restrictions.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Cornell Woolrich papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Selected Related Material at Columbia

Frederic Dannay Papers, 1920-1982 Columbia University, Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Ownership and Custodial History

Bequest of Cornell Woolrich, 1971 & 1972.

Purchase, 2010.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Manuscripts: Source of acquisition--Woolrich, Cornell. Method of acquisition--Bequest; Date of acquisition--1971. Accession number--M-1971.

Method of acquisition--Purchase; Date of acquisition--2010.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Manuscripts Entered in AMC 12/05/1990.

Papers processed Lea Osborne 2010 July.

Papers cataloged Lea Osborne 2010 July.

Box 4 added by Patrick Lawlor 2020 November

Revision Description

2009-06-26 File created.

2010-07-13 xml document instance created by Lea Osborne.

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Scripts (documents) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Authors Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Crime writing Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Detective and mystery stories Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Gay authors Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Irish, William, 1903-1968 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Recluses as authors Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Woolrich, Cornell, 1903-1968 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

Cornell George Hopley-Woolrich was born on December 14, 1903 in New York City to Genero and Claire (neé Attalic) Hopley-Woolrich. In 1907 the family moved to Mexico and Genero and Claire divorced soon after. Cornell stayed with his father in Mexico for the duration of his childhood. As a teenager, he returned to the United States and lived with his mother, his aunt, and his grandfather on West 113th street. Cornell attended DeWitt Clinton High School and went on to attend Columbia University. He would have graduated in 1925, but dropped out his senior year.

Upon leaving school, Woolrich had a brief marriage to Gloria (Violet Virginia) Blackton. Woolrich befriended Blackton and her sister, Marion. After a few short dates, they married on December 6, 1930. A month later, Woolrich disappeared. While he was gone Gloria Blackton discovered his diary and realized that he had been having daily affairs with men throughout their marriage. She quickly divorced him. Woolrich moved back in with his mother and lived with her in the Hotel Marseilles until she died in 1957.

Although he was a guarded and mysterious individual, Woolrich was also a prolific author writing crime and suspense novels and short stories. Many of his works were adapted into films, radio and television plays. He is perhaps most known for his 1942 short story "It Had to be Murder" which was adapted into the Hitchcock directed classic, Rear Window. Woolrich also wrote under the pen name of William Irish.

He continued to write his whole life, however, he became even more of a recluse after his mother died. Woolrich stayed in his hotel room until he died in 1968. There is very little information about his personal life and the information that exists may or may not be true. Woolrich wrote an autobiography (unpublished), yet he sensationalized much of it and in some cases fabricated complete parts of it.