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Jack Hoffenberg papers

 Collection 0004-LIT

Jack Hoffenberg (1906-1977) was an advertising executive in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Maryland, who became a novelist after relocating to California in the 1950s. In the 1930s, he served in the U. S. Marine Corps in Haiti. In 1937, he joined a Washington, D.C., advertising agency but returned to military service during World War II, serving in the U. S. Army. After relocating to California, he published ten novels, including A Thunder at Dawn and Sow Not in Anger. The collection consists of manuscripts, galley proofs, notes, and background materials for novels; correspondence; clippings; publicity; lecture announcements; art work; awards; and photographs. Significant correspondents represented include editors at Avon Books and E.P. Dutton and Co.; Marie Wilderson; Clyde Robert Bulla; Heber Ladner; Paul Monash; Leon Uris; Gwen Bristow; and Adolph A. Kroch.


  • 1944-1977

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.


12.50 Linear Feet (12.50 linear feet housed in 26 hollinger boxes and four items)

4 Items

Scope and Content of Collection

The papers of Jack Hoffenberg span the period from 1944 to 1977, with the bulk between 1961 and 1977. The collection contains research materials for his works including maps, diagrams, newspaper and magazine articles, and notes. There are also outlines, drafts, manuscripts, and galley proofs and page proofs for his published novels. The papers also include outline projections and rough drafts for screen/teleplays that never came to fruition and rough and working copies of several unpublished short stories.

The collection also includes correspondence with his literary agents, various publishers, and personal friends. The correspondence with agents and publishers contains editing suggestions and production, publication, and distribution details for his works. The personal correspondence includes mainly friendly inquiries and invitations to social engagements.

In addition, the collection is comprised of lecture requests; printed items including articles about him, reviews, publicity, and lecture announcements; illustrations; a P.E.N. certificate; and publicity snapshots. The primary topics are Hoffenberg's published work, the editing and publication of that work, and his activities related to his literary career.


A popular novelist of the 1960s and 1970s, Jack Hoffenberg was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on February 8, 1906. He was the youngest son among Barney and Faye (Fannie Buch) Hoffenberg's five sons and four daughters. He attended Baltimore City College, the University of Maryland, and the Maryland Institute College of Art. His studies were concentrated in art and journalism. He studied sculpture under Reuben Kramer.

As a young man, he enlisted in the U. S. Marine Corps and served as an officer under General Frank A. Evans in the U. S. Constabulary in "Papa Doc" Duvalier's Haiti for three and one-half years. Following his service in the Marines in 1937, Hoffenberg joined the Kaufman Advertising Agency in Washington, D.C., as an account executive. On October 5, 1939, Hoffenberg married Mary Joel Kramer, a public information officer, from Winchester, Virginia. He returned to military service during World War II, serving in the U. S. Army in Italy; at war's end, he left the army as a major. Upon the termination of his military career, Hoffenberg opened his own advertising agency in Baltimore, handling industrial accounts.

Hoffenberg first saw southern California in the late 1920s and decided to live there some day. He finally relocated there in 1954 after realizing, to his consternation, that he had become nothing but an administrator. His first California residence was in Sherman Oaks, and, in 1960, he settled in Studio City. At the age of fifty-three he began to devote serious effort to writing, which he characterized as "the most fun you can have with your clothes on." Sow Not In Anger, his first novel, was purchased by the first publisher who read it in 1961. For the next sixteen years, Hoffenberg regularly spent the day at an office near his home, composing a daily quota of chapters. He published ten novels, wrote a number of short stories including a children's story, and outlined several screenplays and teleplays during this period; see Appendix A for a list of his published novels.

In addition to being a disciplined writer, Hoffenberg was a meticulous researcher. In his historical and topical novels, he used knowledge gained from his extensive travels throughout Europe, Central and South America, the Pacific, and Israel. A Thunder At Dawn is based on his military experiences in the Caribbean. His familiarity with Southern cities is evident in his three novels set in the southern United States. While working on The Desperate Adversaries, Hoffenberg spent ten months with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, riding in patrol cars and working with homicide, narcotics, burglary, and vice crews.

Hoffenberg was a dedicated member of the Los Angeles writing community. He served three terms as president of the West Coast chapter of P.E.N. (Poets, Editors, and Novelists) International and frequently lectured at college campuses, libraries, and literary groups in the Los Angeles area. He also picketed when the members of the Writers' Guild struck for better pay and recognition.

Hoffenberg was devoted to sports throughout his life--first as an athlete and then as a spectator. He took time from his arduous writing schedule to enjoy professional football and baseball games. As a young man, he played basketball and baseball with teams sponsored by the Jewish Educational Alliance. He also played football and handball. Among his interests were amateur photography, the "old-time ukulele," although he could not read a note, and shooting craps.

Hoffenberg died in Studio City, California, on March 23, 1977, after a short illness. He was survived by his wife, his brothers Harry and Albert Hoffenberg, and his sisters Mrs. Rose H. Jacobs, Mrs. Shirley Pinsler, and Mrs. Edythe Lewis.


The collection is organized into four series:

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The bulk of Jack Hoffenberg's papers were donated to the University of Maryland Libraries in 1978 and 1979 by Mary Hoffenberg. She donated an additional accretion in May 1997.

Processing Information

The collection was first processed in May 1979. At that time, it was arranged into two series: "Works" and "Correspondence, Articles, Reviews, and Publicity." In summer 1997, the collection was reprocessed and the accretion incorporated. Final revisions to the finding aid were completed in summer 1998. Series I, "Works," was renamed "Writings," and all materials in it were arranged alphabetically by title. The items related to individual Hoffenberg works have been placed in chronological order; for example, research materials, notes, and drafts appear before setting copy, galleys, and page proofs.

Three new series--"Correspondence"; "Clippings, Publicity, and Lecture Announcements"; and "Art Work, Awards, and Photographs"--were created from the former Series II. The correspondence, previously grouped in seven categories, was sorted by correspondent. The clippings, publicity, and lecture announcements were separated into two groupings--"On Hoffenberg's Work" and "On Hoffenberg." Within these groupings, materials were arranged alphabetically. In the final series, the art work, awards, and photographs were arranged alphabetically by those categories.

Oversize research materials in Series I and publicity posters in Series II were separated and housed appropriately. Duplicate materials were separated and discarded. All staples and paperclips were removed and replaced by plastic fasteners when necessary. The entire collection was placed in new acid-free folders and boxes.

Guide to the Jack Hoffenberg Papers
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742