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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 2086

John Cheever journals


Journals of the American writer John Cheever.


  • 1934-1982

Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

A portion of this collection is not housed at the Houghton Library but is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. Retrieval requires advance notice. Readers should check with Houghton Public Services staff to determine what material is offsite and retrieval policies and times.
Conditions Governing Access There are no restrictions on physical access to this material. Formerly restricted until 2000 July 17.


3.75 linear feet (27 volumes, 1 carton)
The journals span approximately 48 years and reflect Cheever's personal and professional life. The journals note events of the day intermittently; they are first and foremost a record of Cheever's inner life. Within them he developed material for stories and novels and meditated on writing, sexuality, alcohol, marriage, children, and friends.

No attempt has been made here to record in detail all topics covered in the journals; some notes of events, places, and titles are taken from typed and manuscript summary notes inserted by family members or editors in the process of editing the journals for publication.

Some inserted items were left probably as place markers, by Cheever as he re-read the journals, or later by family members.

Biographical / Historical

John Cheever (1912-1982) was an American writer.


The journals are arranged chronologically.

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

90M-60. Journals purchased from Mary W. Cheever, Cedar Lane, Ossining, New York; received: 1990 July 26.

Approximately 5-7% of the journals were published in: Cheever, John. The journals of John Cheever. New York: Knopf, 1991. A more detailed analysis of the contents of the journals can be found in: Francis J. Bosha, "The John Cheever Journals at Harvard's Houghton Library" in Resources for American Literary Study, volume 31 (2007): 199-311. A copy is available in the curatorial file for the collection.

General note

A portion of this collection is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. See use restrictions below for additional information.

Processing Information

Processed by: Melanie Wisner

Cheever only occasionally dated his journal entries; dates have been assigned mainly on the basis of events mentioned in the text.

The journals were kept originally in three-ring binders with material sometimes inserted between leaves. The leaves have been removed and placed in folders; the binders are retained as item (29). The inserted material has been listed and placed at the end of the folder sequence for each journal.

Some leaves or sections of journals may have been moved from their original sequence by Cheever; for ease of reference, the journal leaves have been numbered by the cataloger in the order in which they were found.
Link to catalog
Cheever, John. John Cheever journals, circa 1934-1982: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, literary and performing arts archives, and more. The library's holdings of primary source material are managed by an expert staff and shared with scholars, students and the public in the reading room.

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