The Henry Miller Memorial Library Archives holds an impressive collection of Miller’s writings, letters, and rare manuscripts, as well as the largest (near comprehensive) collection of Henry Miller books – each printing of each book. All titles and dates are searchable in an electronic database which is the foundation for a publishable index of all items.
A researcher can sit down at a computer with a list of interests, and within minutes, have at his or her fingertips all relevant materials the Library has to offer. Below are the finding aids that comprise the collection of archive material. Each page will indicate in detail the scope and content of each collection as well as relevant biographical information. Please continue to check back as this site is constantly updated and improved.
Collections within the Archives:
- Anais Nin Collection
- Bertrand Mathieu Collection
- Emil Schnellock Collection
- Emil White Collection
- Emil White of Big Sur – Joanne Humphrey Collection
- Henry Miller Memorial Library & Big Sur Collection
- Jane Nelson & Lafayette Young Collection
- June Lancaster Collection
- Lucia Crocheron Greer Collection
- Noel Young Collection
- Olays and Emma Goldman Collection
- Other Artists Collection
- Robert Cross Collection
- William Webb Collection
Anais Nin Collection
The Anais Nin Collection has a date range of 1969 – 1990.
Abstract: Writer, eroticist. Lover and patron of Henry Miller. The Anaïs Nin Collection contains a small compilation of written pieces including news clips and other nonfiction devoted to the life of Anaïs Nin. Photographs of etches by Nin’s husband, Ian Hugo for her book House of Incest are included in this collection.
Scope and Contents: The Anaïs Nin Collection consists of one box of eighteen artifacts. The majority of included pieces contain biographical information on Nin including an obituary (1977), news clips (1969 – 1993), and excerpts from published material. These pieces are primarily concerned with the complex psychological relationship Nin formed between the men in her life and her published writing.
A manuscript of “Anaïs Nin: The Voyage Within” by Maryanne Raphael is a creative nonfiction piece that sets an artistic narrative to Nin’s biography. Also incorporated is an edition of the international journal ANAÏS dedicated to the legacy of Anaïs Nin. The bulk of the collection is comprised of photos of the author as well as excerpts from her book House of Incest, including a copy of an inscription to Henry Miller.
Researchers may also want to look at the HMML Henry Miller Collection for further information regarding correspondence between Nin and Miller.
The Bertrand Mathieu Collection
The Bertrand Mathieu Collection has a date range of 1939 – 1993.
Abstract: Professor at the University of New Haven, Fulbright Scholar, translator, author of Orpheus in Brooklyn. The Bertrand Mathieu Collection conveys the intersection of Mathieu’s professional body of work and the life of author Henry Miller. This collection contains biographical materials ranging from full summaries of Mathieu’s life and work to recommendations for renewal of the Fullbright Scholarship. Included as well are various pieces written by Mathieu including articles on Miller’s work, a book proposal dedicated to the recognition of Miller’s legacy, and excerpts of From Your Capricorn Friend, most of which possess added handwritten notes by Mathieu.
Scope and Contents: The Bertrand Mathieu Collection is composed of one box of 39 artifacts. The collection contains biographical materials related to Mathieu including biographical notes, fellowship applications, and letters of recommendation. A note detailing contact information and other planning materials for the Henry Miller Centennial Festival by Mathieu also serves as a major piece in this collection. Access to articles, critical responses, and other literary materials authored by Mathieu for part of this collection from “Living With Rimbaud’s Ghost” to a translation of Illuminations by Arthur Rimbaud are also provided in this collection.
Mathieu’s discussion of Miller’s work in the various articles of this selection is specific to the novel Colossus of Maroussi. Finally, a small portion of the collection is devoted to photos of Henry Miller alongside Mathieu and other literary figures such as Ngyen-Huu-Hieu and George Katimbalis.
Emil Schnellock Collection
The Emil Schnellock Collection has a date range of 1899 – 1997
Abstract: Painter, lecturer, lifelong friend of Henry Miller. The Emil Schnellock Collection is primarily comprised of material from the 1920s and 30s contained in correspondences, typescripts, watercolors and more sent from Henry Miller to lifetime mentor and friend, Emil Schnellock. One of the most prized collections in the Henry Miller Memorial Library archive, the Emil Schnellock collection incorporates something that is representative of every stage of Miller’s early struggle in becoming a writer, culminating in the publication of his first book.
Acquisition of the Collection: The Henry Miller Memorial Library purchased the Miller/Schnellock collection in 1999 from a private collector. Recognized by Miller scholars Roger Jackson and William Ashley as a highly valuable part of Henry Miller’s legacy, the collection was sold to the library after being subsidized by a significant donation from the previous owners.
Scope and Contents: The Emil Schnellock Collection is composed of nine boxes of artifacts. Contained within these boxes are the Mezzotints dating to the 1920s, manuscripts, typescripts of literary sketches, Miller’s first known letter of appeal, letters written to Emil Schnellock, watercolors, postcards, and several items previously unknown to Henry Miller’s biographers and bibliographers.
Of particular interest are early letters from Miller to his boyhood friend Emil Schnellock, written between 1922 and 1934, most of them during Miller’s first few years in Paris. The letters are a vivid record of a writer in the making, tracing his ten-year struggle to find his own voice, and reaching resulting in the publication of Tropic of Cancer in 1934. Miller and Schnellock first met in 1905 as students of P.S. 85.
After a period of estrangement the two met by chance at Sixth Avenue and 49th Street in New York City. Their boyhood friendship rekindled, Miller and Schnellock continued to stay in contact, with Schnellock serving as Miller’s intellectual mentor and sounding board. The Emil Schnellock Collection contains 187 letters from Miller to Schenllock spanning 40 years of friendship.
Biographical Note: Emil Schnellock was born to German parents in New York, New York in 1890. Schnellock met Henry Miller at P.S. 85 in 1905 where he was recognized early on for his skills as an artist. Schnellock travelled to and studied art in Europe for several years as a young man, finally returning to New York in 1920. Throughout that decade, he kept a studio on Bedford Avenue as a commercial artist. Later in his life, Schnellock moved to Madison County, Virginia where he took a part time teaching job at a boys prep school called Woodberry Forest School. In 1938 he was hired as an art instructor at Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, where Miller visited in 1940. Emil Schnellock died in 1958.
Emil White Collection
The Emil White Collection has a date range of 1921 – 1990
Abstract: Painter, close friend of Henry Miller, founder of the Henry Miller Memorial Library. The Emil White Collection is an accumulation of correspondences to Emil White, photos of White with friends and family in Big Sur, California, various essays and guide books authored by him, and other biographical pieces relating to Emil. The collection boasts a large breadth of material recounting Emil’s life in Big Sur and his devotion to the legacy of his friend and late author Henry Miller.
Scope and Contents: The Emil White Collection is composed of fifteen boxes. In large part the collection comprises a series of correspondences between Emil White and individuals including his two his sons, Stefan and Daniel White, Phil Nurenberg, Lionel Olay, Kate Winslow, Patricia N. Harris, Ed Gardien, Mats Edholm, Tracy Ligozio, Charlotte Younger, Pat Roberts, Gilbert Neiman, Peter Coniglio, Carlton Lake, Hiro Shirai, and Tomoko among others. One noted correspondence is a letter addressed to White from Lepska Miller after Henry Miller’s death.
Various pieces of writing are also included such as book reviews, poems, articles, and two guides Carmel By-the-Seaand The Fabulous Hearst Castle written and/or published and edited by Emil White. Some ephemera such as White’s membership card to the famed Bohemian speakeasy The Dill Pickle Club in Chicago and White’s guestbook are also part of this section. There is a compilation of articles included on Henry Miller as well as on the San Franciscan sculptor Benny Bufano. An assortment of White’s various legal papers such as American passports and the deed to his property in Big Sur have also been added to this collection.
Another major portion is devoted to photos depicting White solo as well as with friends and family in Big Sur. Early pictures of the Henry Miller Memorial Library, an array of sculptures and drawings, and Halloween at Nepenthe are among those noted in this collection. Finally, a small collection of artwork given as gifts to Emil from various individuals is also included.
Biographical Note: Emil Wieselmann was born the oldest of nine children in 1901 in Galicia, Poland located in the Carpathian Mountains. During the onset of World War I in 1914, the Wieselmann family fled to Vienna, Austria as refugees. At thirteen, Emil ran away to Hungary where he joined an underground communist movement. Seeking political asylum in America, Emil moved to New York and changed his last name from Wieselmann to White in 1922.
Twenty years later, in 1942, Emil met Henry Miller on the sidewalk of Michigan Avenue in Chicago. From this meeting onwards, Emil continued correspondence with Miller until following him to Big Sur, California in 1944. After moving to Big Sur, Emil began to paint in addition to serving as Miller’s personal secretary, handyman, and companion. After Miller’s death, Emil converted his home into a memorial library for Miller in 1981 with the help of the Big Sur Land Trust.
Emil spent the remaining years of his life as director of the new institution, which evolved into a local center of the arts where it remains today in the form of the Henry Miller Memorial Library. Emil died in his sleep on July 27, 1989.
Emil White of Big Sur – Joanne Humphrey Collection
The Emil White of Big Sur – Joanne Humphrey Collection has a date range of 1946 – 1969.
Abstract: The Emil White of Big Sur – Joanne Humphrey Collection emerged from a collaborative effort between Emil White and Joanne Humphrey to document Emil’s life. This collaboration later led to the published book Emil White of Big Sur, two drafts of which are included in this collection. A large portion of the collection is devoted to negatives, prints, and photos of Emil’s pieces as well as correspondences and legal receipts from institutions and individuals interested in his work.
Scope and Content: The Emil White of Big Sur – Joanne Humphrey Collection is composed of two boxes of 193 items. Contained within these boxes are multimedia materials documenting Emil White’s growth as a painter. Highlighted in this collection are two drafts of the biographyEmil White of Big Sur by Joanne Humphrey. This collection also possesses legal receipts and correspondences regarding Emil’s work from institutions such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the California State Library, and the San Francisco Art Institute as well as various individuals including Helen Winters and Ernst Brucher. Finally, a box of negatives, prints, and photos of Emil’s artwork including I’m a Stranger Here Myself, Dream of Vienna, and Folkdancing at Nepenthe contribute to this collection.
Henry Miller Collection
The Henry Miller Collection has a date range of 1951 – 2001.
Abstract: American author, painter, expatriate. Henry Miller published his first book of fiction, Tropic of Cancer in 1934, a work subjected to obscenity trials in American courts in the early 1960s. A landmark case in the history of American censorship, Tropic of Cancer was declared non-obscene by the Supreme Court in 1964. A large part of this collection consists of nonfiction material written about Miller, including biographical pieces, bibliographies, and critical studies. Also included are published writings by Miller as well as photographs, correspondence, and documents from efforts to memorialize Miller such as the Miller Centennial Celebration.
Scope and Contents: The Henry Miller Collection is composed of 13 document boxes. The collection contains primarily nonfiction pieces including magazine articles, newsclippings, and notes written on Miller’s life and work. Also part of this collection are original correspondences between Miller and a collection of individuals including Dante Zaccagnini, Sam Hopkins, Michael Fraenkal, and Miller’s former wife Eve Ross among others.
Efforts to memorialize Miller in the various forms of Henry Miller bibliographies, newsletters by the Henry Miller Literary Society and the International Henry Miller Letter as well as articles, photographs, and essays from the Henry Miller Centennial Celebration additionally form a segment of this collection. A bulk of photos and negatives including portraits of Miller solo and alongside family and friends are of note in this collection. Early editions of pamphlets and essays by Miller regarding other literary works as well as the subject of censorship constitute an integral part of the material as well. Finally, this collection incorporates a selection of manuscripts and other works inspired by Miller.
Biographical Note: Henry Miller was born on December 26, 1891 in New York, New York to German–American parents Heinrich and Louise Miller. Miller grew up in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, working for his father’s tailor shop and eventually graduating high school in 1909. Miller attended the City College of New York for two months before moving onto a series of odd jobs to take up writing in the evenings.
Miller moved to Paris in the 1930s where his prolific literary life began with the release of Tropic of Cancer in 1934 by the Obelisk Press in Paris, France. In 1939 Miller left Paris to return to the United States during World War II, making a brief stop in Greece for six months. Upon returning to the US, Miller settled in Big Sur, California where he lived from 1944 to 1963. Published in America in 1961 by Grove Press, the sexually graphic Tropic of Cancer incited obscenity trials in American courts where it was eventually declared non-obscene by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1964.
Miller went on to publish seventy-eight books over the course of his lifetime ranging from fictional “autobiographical romances,” to essays on such themes as philosophy, literature, and society. He spent the last twenty years of his life in Pacific Palisades, California where he died on June 7, 1980. Over the course of his lifetime Miller married five times. His marriages were to Beatrice Sylvas Wickens, June Edith Smith Mansfield, Janina Martha Lepska, Eve McClure, and Hoki Tokuda, chronologically. He had two children with his wife Lepska, named Valentine and Tony born in 1945 and 1948 respectively.
Regarded by writers Norman Mailer and Charles Bukowski among others as one of the greatest American prose writers of the 20thcentury, Miller has earned international critical acclaim for his work and is now memorialized at the Henry Miller Memorial Library in Big Sur, California.
Henry Miller Memorial Library and Big Sur Collection
The Henry Miller Memorial Library & Big Sur Collection has a date range of 1897 – 2013.
Abstract: Photos, articles, advertisements for Henry Miller Memorial Library events, correspondences, and legal documents. The Big Sur and Henry Miller Library Collection is a broad compilation of photographs, newspaper articles, brochures, advertisements, legal documents, correspondences, and other pieces pertaining to the Henry Miller Memorial Library and the Big Sur community. Important documents regarding to the story of the Library’s evolution can be found within this collection as well as visual documentation of the Library’s many visitors and past events.
Scope and Contents: The Big Sur and Henry Miller Library Collection is composed of six boxes of artifacts. A compendium of photos, articles, brochures, advertisements, and legal documents related to the Henry Miller Memorial Library comprises the bulk of the collection. Photos by Katie Lee of Big Sur flora and locations such as Cypress Point, Nacimento Grade, Pebble Beach, and Big Sur Canyon among others are included. Articles covering Big Sur as well as the Henry Miller Memorial Library from papers like the Monterey Herald, East Bay Times, San Jose Mercury News, Los Angeles Times, The Rising Generation and Lost Generation Journal to list a few.
There are also advertisements for events like a Hindu Garage Sale and Art Exhibition and photos of tourists and construction work from the early years of the Henry Miller Library’s history. Early volumes of HMML’s Ping Pong journal and notes from Henry Miller Library Committee meetings also form part of this collection as well as information on the Library’s infrastructure from building projects and proposed upgrades.
A succession of correspondences addressed to individuals such as Emil White, Phil Nurenberg, Elmer Gertz, Eric Barker, Ephraim Doner, former Library director Jerry Kamstra, and current director Magnus Toren are also included. Finally, Emil White’s legal documents such as plans for the library, White’s last will and testament, and the director’s deed for White’s land are also in this collection of documents.
Jane Nelson & Lafayette Young Collection
The Jane Nelson & Lafayette Young Collection has a date range of 1951 – 2003.
Abstract: The Jane Nelson and Lafayette Young Collection is a series of correspondences between Henry Miller and Jane Nelson as well as Lafayette, “Lafe” Young. Owner of Bargain Bookstore in San Diego California, “Lafe” Young became the point person for delivering Miller books he requested by mail, often at no cost. The Bargain Bookstore developed into a cultural node in the early 60s for painters, poets, and other artists in need of exposure. Young has subsequently been associated with many venerated authors including Henry Miller, Charles Bukowski, and Richard Morris. The period in which Miller campaigned for the Nobel Prize in Literature is also noted in this collection including a personal plea from Miller to Jane Nelson for support. Finally ads and letters pertaining to Robert Snyder’s documentary, The Henry Miller Odyssey (1969)are also contained within this collection.
Contents and Scope: The Jane Nelson and Lafayette Young Collection consists of one box of thirty-nine artifacts. A large part of the content for this collection includes a correspondence between Henry Miller and Lafayette “Lafe” Young. The exchange, spanning from 1951 to 1976, logs a number of books requested by Miller, with a particular focus on the author Marie Corelli. Included also is a brief account of Miller requesting support for his Nobel Prize campaign from Jane Nelson, author of Form and Image in the Fiction of Henry Miller. The remainder of the collection includes newsclips, painting prints, and other correspondences not including Miller.
June Lancaster Collection
The June Lancaster Collection has a date range of 1940 – 2000.
Abstract: Ballet dancer, friend of Henry Miller. The June Lancaster Collection contains a series of original correspondences from the author Henry Miller to June Lancaster. Along with these letters and postcards is a compilation of June Lancaster’s personal miscellanea including notes, photographs, and other correspondences.
Scope and Contents: The June Lancaster Collection is composed of two boxes of 144 pieces. A significant portion of this collection is devoted to Henry Miller’s correspondence with June Lancaster during the period of 1944 to 1956. The remainder of the collection is composed of Lancaster’s personal notes, prints, photographs, and other correspondences. Other individuals included in correspondences with Lancaster include Ben Porter, Bhupesh Guha, and Emil White.
Biographical Note: A ballet dancer from Los Angeles, June Lancaster stayed with Henry Miller at his home in Partington Ridge for a period of time. After a brief affair, Lancaster continued to send Miller money and gifts in support of his writing.
Lucia Crocheron Greer Collection
The Lucia Crocheron Greer Collection has a date range of 1957 – 1976.
Abstract: The Lucia Crocheron Greer Collection features a brief correspondence between “Chia” Greer and Emil White. This exchange of postcards and letters between these two covers such topics of discussion as their children, divorce, work, and Big Sur. Emil White makes mention of hosting nameless Japanese women at his cabin, missing his companion, the writer Henry Miller, and visiting his children in Monterey on weekends. Also included are negatives of a selection of Emil’s work as well as of the painter himself. The last portion of the collection is an assortment of newspaper articles, guides, and other nonfiction describing the attractions in and around Big Sur.
Scope and Contents: The Lucia Crocheron Greer Collection consists of one box of 43 pieces. The collection begins with a compilation of negatives depicting the painter Emil White, his property in Big Sur, and a selection of his paintings from TimeMagazine. What follows is an accumulation of handwritten and typewritten letters and postcards between Emil White and Lucia “Chia” Crocheron Greer from 1961 to 1972. News clips and other publications showcasing Big Sur and the nearby Hearst Castle are also included. Finally a list from 1957 of available and unavailable publications for sale by Henry Miller is the last piece in this collection.
Noel Young Collection
The Noel Young Collection has a date range of 1931 – 1991.
Abstract: Commercial printer, founder of Capra Press. Noel Young formed a lasting friendship with Henry Miller in 1959 while living in Big Sur, California. Young published an assortment of Miller’s later essays and pamphlets including Sextet and My Bike and Other Friends. Included in this collection are handwritten copies of published work by Miller, a number of photos and negatives spanning the years 1940 to 1978, and a series of articles dedicated to Miller.
Scope and Content: The Noel Young Collection is composed of three boxes of 207 pieces. Most of the collection is comprised of photos and negatives depicting Henry Miller with friends as well as women associated with him including his previous wives Eve and Lepska, Twinka Thiebald, and Brenda Venus. The photos also include frames of Paint As You Like and Die Happy, Miller watercolors, Miller’s neighborhood in Brooklyn, and portraits of Emil White, Ephram Doner, and Michael Fraenkel.
Also included are various pieces written by Miller such as a first edition of Maurizius Forever, handwritten copies of “Love and Sex” and “Renate and the Astrologer,” as well as a compilation of letters to Emil Schnellock entitled Semblance of a Devoted Past. Records of events and tributes to memorialize Miller form another part of this collection in the form of articles dedicated to Miller from Lifespan, LA Times, andWestways and a Henry Miller Centennial Celebration Announcement.
Biographical Note: Born in San Francisco on Christmas Day in 1922, Noel Young studied at Stanford University and served as a war correspondent in the Philippines during World War II. After the war, Young started out as a commercial printer designing and printing books for Black Sparrow Press and other independent presses. He eventually launched his own company, Capra Press in 1969.
Over thirty years, the Santa Barbara based Capra Press published 300 fiction and nonfiction books authored by writers such as Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Ray Bradbury, and Ross Macdonald. Young was married twice and had four children: Hilary, Caitlin, Molly, and Aaron. Young died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease at his home in Santa Barbara on May 31, 2002.
Olays and Emma Goldman Collection
The Olays and Emma Goldman Collection has a date range of 1918 – 1958.
Abstract: Manuscripts, family correspondences, articles, letters of payment and rejection for writing submissions, and legal receipts. The bulk of the collection pertains to the literary work of Lionel Olay, author of The Dark Corners of the Night and friend of Emil White. Also included are family correspondences between Lionel, Emilio, and Anna Olay. Emilio Olay’s political relationship with Emma Goldman also contributed a small section of Goldman’s correspondences to this collection.
Scope and Content: The Olays & Emma Goldman Collection is composed of three document boxes. A major portion of this collection records the development of Lionel Olay’s literary career. Manuscripts of the novels A Something More and A Time for Chaos are included as well as an assortment of essays, fiction pieces, and short stories by Olay. Part of this section also includes receipts of payment from the Sterling Lord Agency and Nuggets magazine as well as various letters of rejection addressed to Olay. Olay family correspondences between Emilio, Anna, and Lionel among others comprise the next largest part of the collection.
A compilation of political newsclips on the themes of anarchism and antifascism also form a small section. Finally highlighted are correspondences between Emma Goldman and individuals like John Powys and Reginald Kaufman obtained through Emilio Olay’s connection to Goldman.
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Other Artists Collection
The Other Artists Collection has a date range of 1955 – 1999.
Abstract: The Other Artists Collection is a unique assemblage of primary and secondary source material related to artists linked to Henry Miller and the Big Sur and greater California Coast. Photographs, essays, and correspondences compose the bulk of the collection while a small pool of original literary and artwork is also included. Some writers, poets, and artists related to this collection are Robinson Jeffers, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Lawrence Durrell, Ephraim Doner, Eric Barker, and Bob Nash. This collection is expected to grow in the future as the Henry Miller Memorial Library continues to serve as a local arts center.
Scope and Content: The Other Artists Collection is composed of two document boxes. These pieces are mostly secondary source material including photos, articles, essays, pamphlets, and flyers for art events. There is a small portion of primary material including original poetry pieces by Eric Barker. One highlight of this collection as well is a series of correspondences addressed from the poet Eric Barker to his daughter Jean.
Robert Cross Collection
The Robert Cross Collection has a date range of 1926 – 1985.
Abstract: Author of Henry Miller: The Paris Years and Big Sur Tales, editor, realtor, former president of the Big Sur Historical Society. This collection is taken from research pursued by Robert Cross for a master’s thesis concerning the literary circle in 1930’s Paris of which Henry Miller, Alfred Perles, Michael Fraenkel, and Lawrence Durrell were major figures. This collection includes original correspondences between Cross and Miller as well as a substantial compilation of articles on Miller and the subject of literary censorship in America.
Scope and Content: The Robert Cross Collection is composed of one box of 148 items. This collection incorporates four major sections of research on Henry Miller. The first represents a series of original correspondences between Robert Cross, Henry Miller, and at times Eve Miller. The second involves a compilation of newsclips from Time, Publisher’s Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, The Virginian Pilot, and The New York Times among others on the literary merit of Miller’s work as well as the subject of censorship and obscenity in general.
A noted piece from this selection is Norman Mailer’s article for The Los Angeles Times titled “Henry Miller: Celebrating a Cause Celebre.” The third section is a series of correspondences and newsletters from the Henry Miller Literary Society. Finally the last is an series of pieces including a copy of Miller’s original work schedule in 1932 and correspondences and articles related to Robinson and Una Jeffers’ time in Big Sur, California and Taos, New Mexico.
Biographical Note: Raised among 14 states, 17 schools, and 38 houses, Robert Cross went on to pursue over ten different professions including advertising copywriter, corporate account executive, literary publicist, college textbook editor, photographer, fine art entrepreneur, writer, and more. Cross earned three degrees over his lifetime, eventually teaching at various colleges and universities including his alma maters, the University of Kansas and the University of California at Los Angeles. Cross traveled across the U.S. from Kansas to Big Sur, California in 1960 to interview the author Henry Miller for a working master’s thesis.
The material from this visit and Cross’s subsequent discussions with Miller regarding his years in Paris developed into the content of Cross’ first book, Henry Miller: The Paris Years. Cross moved to Big Sur in 1973 where he served as president of the Big Sur Historical Society, director of the Big Sur National History Association, and resident realtor. Cross published a second book, Big Sur Tales, recounting the lore of early pioneers to migrating hippies in Big Sur in 2011.
William Webb Collection
The William Webb Collection has a date range of 1931 – 1995.
Abstract: Photographer, publisher of To Paint is to Love Again, author of Henry and Friends: The California Years 1946 – 1977. The William Webb Collection includes a series of portraits of Henry Miller with various friends by photographer William Webb originally commissioned by Miller fan Joe Erdelach. Erdelach later suffered from financial setbacks and proved unable to pay Webb after the collection was completed. Webb published these photos in Henry and Friends and donated copies from the series to the Henry Miller Memorial Library Archive. The photos depict Miller individually and with friends in addition to Webb family portraits, and unnamed men and women in artistic compositions by Webb.
Scope and Content: The William Webb Collection is composed of one box of 58 items. The greater part of this collection are photos taken by William Webb covering such subjects as Henry Miller during his time in Pacific Palisades, Emil White in Big Sur, Webb family portraits, as well as portraits of various unidentified men and women. Also included are documents recounting the history of the collection such as transfer invoices, correspondences between Webb and others, an essay by Webb on photographing Miller, and database reports.
Biographical Note: William Webb was born in Los Angeles, California on August 19, 1919. In 1937 he attended Deep Springs College where he embarked on his first serious photographic effort while completing photographic documentation for his studies of botany and geology in Deep Springs Valley. Subsequent to enrolling in Occidental College in 1938, Webb was sent to Cascade Locks CPS Camp in 1941 as a conscientious objector to WWII. In 1943 Webb was found in violation of the Selective Service Act and sentenced to three years at a Federal Penitentiary in McNeil Island, Washington.
Webb was released on parole for hospital work at St. Luke’s Hospital in 1944. During this period Webb married Mary Gioia, a student nurse. After various business exploits into textile manufacturing and small publishing companies, Webb befriended Henry Miller in 1958, eventually publishing To Paint is to Love Again. During this time Webb had his first exhibition of photography in a group show at the Pasadena Art Museum named The Photograph as Poetry,including also such noted photographers as Ansel Adams, Brett Weston, and Wyn Bullock. In 1967 Webb joined Ansel Adams and others on the founding board of founding trustees of Friends of Photography.
Webb was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1972. A year later, Webb completed 100 prints of Henry Miller and friends for a collection commissioned by Miller collector Joe Erdelach. In 1976 Webb relocated to Big Sur and eventually published Henry and Friends: The California Years, 1946 – 1977 in 1991. Finally, in 1994 the first small retrospective of Webb’s photographic work was donated to the Henry Miller Memorial Library.