New York Library Buys Tom Wolfe’s Old Stuff for $2.15 Million

The high-society gadfly’s papers include letters from Hunter S. Thompson, Gay Talese, and others

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© Robinson / Vogue / Condé Nast Archive / © Condé Nast

Journalist and writer Tom Wolfe was shot in his office at the New York Herald Tribune on January 15, 1966 for a "Vogue's Own Boutique" feature.

The New York Public Library has paid $2.15 million to purchase the archives of Tom Wolfe, a writer renowned for chronicling the city’s high society, blemishes and all.

The 190 boxes of material—most of which were paid for with a private donation—include book drafts, outlines, research materials and “uncollected journalism,” The New York Times reports.

Among the holdings are more than 10,000 letters from icons like Hunter S. Thompson, William F. Buckley and Gay Talese. The letters include messages from Wolfe’s tailor, complete with fabric swatches. The archives include material from nearly every significant work of journalism Wolfe completed, much of which turned a sharp and critical eye on New York “society.” After working at the New York Herald Tribune in the 1960s as a feature writer, Wolfe chronicled the exploits of a Manhattan bond trader in his 1987 novel Bonfire of The Vanities, which was turned into a feature film starring Tom Hanks.

“Tom Wolfe has been to New York what Evelyn Waugh was to 1920s London—he’s skewered the high and low and baited the sanctimonious with a rare gleeful wit,” Nathaniel Adams, author of I Am Dandy: The Return of the Elegant Gentleman told TIME.

Not included in the collection were any of Wolfe’s trademark all-white suits.

“Those are the things I really can’t part with,” Wolfe said.

[New York Times]