Rare Book & Manuscript Library

John Howard Griffin papers, 1920-2004

Series XVIII. The Hermitage Journals

Subtitled A Diary Kept While Working on the Biography of Thomas Merton, this 231 page published book charts Griffin's 18 visits to Merton's hermitage, from August 5, 1969 through June 15, 1972 (plus three other entries made at his home in Fort Worth, Texas). The edition includes a short preface by Griffin--his last piece of writing composed for publication--and a folio of his photographs of the hermitage and its surroundings. The cloth edition was published by Andrews and McMeel in 1981, the year after Griffin's death; a paperback version appeared a few years later under Doubleday's Image imprint.. Like Black Like Me, this book is a diary set apart from Griffin's ongoing Journal (1950-1980), and was intended as a self-contained work for publication. The scholar will not find either text in the overall pagination of the Journal, even though there are other entries for the years (in which these two books were composed) in that larger 3,000 page compendium. Nonetheless, if one were to read the two published diaries and the Journal chronologically, the overall story of Griffin's life-line continues uninterrupted from 1950 to 1980.. In the case of The Hermitage Journals, the text was first drafted as a diary from 1969-1972. That draft was edited and a second draft was made in 1978-1979 by Griffin in collaboration with Father Tom McKillop, the author's close friend and spiritual guide during the last three years of life. That second draft was edited by Conger Beasley for the cloth edition. But because both Father McKillop and Griffin's widow, Elizabeth, did not favor all the deletions Beasley had made from the second draft, yet a fourth and final draft was agreed upon for cloth publication.. The Hermitage Journals, then, was the last book Griffin prepared for publication under contract, although it appeared posthumously.

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Box 32 Folder 805-808 Diary, Gethsemani, KY & Fort Worth, TX, 1969-1972, 297 pages t.ms. (with Griffin's ms. corrections and revisions

Box 32 Folder 809-817 Diary, Fort Worth, TX, 1970s, 355 pp. t.ms. (with Griffin's emendations and changes by editor Beasley

Box 32 Folder 818 Andrews, Jim To John Howard Griffin, Shawnee Mission, KS, 1976-1980, 3 t.l.s.

[Publisher of Andrews and McMeel. The first letter asks Griffin if he has any current projects in the works (1976); the second letter, dated April 30, 1980, is Andrews' response to a reading of Griffin's hermitage diary--he was so impressed with the manuscript that he offered to publish it and looked forward to actually editing it as well; the third letter acknowledges Griffin's return of the signed contract. [Unfortunately, Griffin and Andrews were not able to work together on the book. Both died before the book was read for production.]

Box 32 Folder 819 Martin, Donna To Elizabeth Griffin, Fairway, KS, 1981-1984, 7 t.l.s.

[Vice President of Andrews and McMeel, concerning among other issues, restoring some cuts made by the editor Beasley; also a list of the cuts that were restored

Box 32 Folder 820 Martin, Donna To Tom McKillop, Fairway, KS, 7 July 1981, 2 page t.l.s.

[Discussing the editing of the manuscript

Box 32 Folder 821 Griffin, John Howard Production marginalia for The Hermitage Journals: Manufacturing specifications; Two galley pages; Three pages of corrections; ;A list of Griffin's visits to the hermitage; Two sets of footnotes

Box 32 Folder 822 Reviews of The Hermitage Journals

[When one considersThe Hermitage Journalsin connection withBlack Like MeandScatttered Shadows, there emerges a fascinating subject for scholarship. These books form an autobiographical trilogy that is unique in subject matter and intensely original in the evocation of these experiences. How many whites have experienced being black? How many social creatures have embraced hermetic solitude? How many have lost their eyesight, endured a decade of blindness and then had vision restored? Surely, these singular realities are among the most misunderstood and nowhere in our literature are they made so understandable from the inside out. Griffin found such human conditions, however contradictory on the surface, profoundly unified in the realm of the spirit. He discovered that being blind or black or being a hermit simply meant being human--that the experience itself was far less difficult and painful than the dehumanizing perceptions of those in the majority, who did not see the individual but only that condition of appearing other than average