The University of Delaware Library announces “Contemporary African American Literature from the Richard Hoffman Collection,” an exhibition in the Information Room of the Morris Library on view from Tuesday, January 26, 2010 through Tuesday, June 29, 2010. The exhibition is in celebration of Black History month (February 2010). The exhibition is drawn entirely from material donated by Richard Hoffman and includes first editions of books by Ai, Ernest Gaines, Lorraine Hansberry, June Jordan, Eve Merriam, Ntozake Shange, and others. A checklist of the exhibition may be viewed at [www.lib.udel.edu/ud/spec/exhibits.html].
Richard Hoffman, the Brooklyn-based theater collector and book dealer, built a number of literary collections over a period of many years. Hoffman has said that he entered the United States Army in the 1950s as an actor and left as a writer. His military experience led to an assignment to create a television program titled “Your Army in View,” which consisted of interviews and live drama. After his discharge from the service in 1955, Hoffman taught in the drama department of The City University of New York. During this period he was awarded a Eugene O’Neill fellowship for play writing. He also seriously began to collect rare books and first editions. This interest in collecting led to his career as an antiquarian book dealer.
Hoffman became particularly interested in collecting first editions of contemporary American dramatists as well as twentieth century African American literature. The University of Delaware Library serves as the repository for his comprehensive collections of the work of Arthur Miller and Neil Simon, as well as examples of the work of other playwrights including David Mamet, David Rabe, John Guare, and Lorraine Hansberry. The University of Delaware Library is renowned for its extensive African-American literature collection and Richard Hoffman’s collection is well represented within these holdings.
The exhibition curator is Timothy Murray, Head of the Special Collections Department in the University of Delaware Library.
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