de Grummond Collection

McCain Library and Archives
University Libraries
University of Southern Mississippi


Collection Number
Collection Dates
Collection Volume
1.95 cu.ft. (6 boxes)

Biographical Sketch | Scope & Content | Related Collections | Series & Subseries | Box Inventory


Donated by Robert Lipsyte between 1970 and 1992.


Non-circulating; available for research.


This collection is protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U. S. Code). Reproductions can be made only if they are to be used for "private study, scholarship, or research." It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials, other than that noted above.

Biographical Sketch

The Lipsyte household in New York City welcomed newborn Robert Lipsyte into their world on January 16, 1938, and although baby Lipsyte had yet to realize the importance of the fact, he arrived in an environment full of books and a love for learning. Lipsyte's parents were both teachers. As a teenager, Lipsyte remained---in his words---"very fat" until he turned fourteen years old. He spent his spare time reading and writing, deciding early to become a writer because writing allowed him to "hide behind a typewriter" and "control the universe."

Among his early literary heroes Lipsyte counted Richard Halliburton, John Steinbeck, and J.D. Salinger. From each author he learned a specific element of the writing trade. Halliburton introduced him to "the author as hero." According to Lipsyte, Halliburton taught him that "first, you swim in the roiling croc-infested waters, then you write about it." Steinbeck taught him compassion for people, sense of place, and a love for nature. And Salinger's Holden Caulfield of The Catcher in the Rye appealed to him as an "intelligent, sensitive, real" character who was crazier than himself.

After graduating from Columbia University in 1957, Lipsyte planned to enter graduate school in California in the fall; however, he landed a job as a copy boy in the sports department of the New York Times and continued working for the Times throughout the next fourteen years. During that time, he turned a weekly column for the Times into an internationally-syndicated sports column and his experiences into a career as an author for young adults.

In 1965, Lipsyte covered a prize-fight in Las Vegas and heard a grizzled old boxing manager talk about the three flights of dark, twisting steps that led up to his gym. Lipsyte found himself captivated by the image. From this image and his experience covering boxing came Lipsyte's first novel for young people, The Contender (1967), which won the Child Study Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College Award in 1967. Lipsyte received such favorable response from The Contender's fans that he forsook his journalism career in 1971 to concentrate on his novel writing.

In 1978 Lipsyte took a break from writing after being diagnosed with cancer. Fortunately, chemotherapy eliminated the disease and Lipsyte resumed writing. In 1991 he published The Brave, a sequel to The Contender. The story developed from a chance meeting with a young American-Indian who described his fear of life on the reservation as well as his anxiety over leaving for the white world and the rejection he would face. In The Brave, the seventeen-year-old protagonist, Sonny Bear, runs away to New York City where he meets Alfred, the hero of The Contender. Having abandoned his boxing career, Alfred became a forty-year-old police sergeant dedicated to eradicating drug trafficking in the Big Apple. Sonny becomes an unwitting pawn in the drug war and is rescued by Alfred, who teaches the young boy to box.

During the last twenty years, Lipsyte actively pursued his career path as a fiction writer, publishing books for adults as well as writing scripts for television and movies. Yet the heart and soul of his work remained his novels for and about adolescents, including One Fat Summer (1977), Summer Rules (1981), and The Summerboy (1982), as well as Jock and Jill (1982), Free to Be Muhammud Ali (1978), The Chemo Kid (1992), and The Brave (1991). In 1991, Lipsyte returned to the New York Times to write a weekly sports column and often critiques the sports industry as just that---an industry---and not a form of popular recreation. He lives in New Jersey with his wife, Marjorie, and their two children.


Scope and Content

The Lipsyte collection holds typescripts, galleys, proofs, unbound blues, as well as folded and gathered sheets. Most of these materials bear the editing marks of the author, copy editor, and typesetter. They illustrate the tedious publishing process and the various stages through which a manuscript progresses before coming to print.

Assignment: Sports (1970, 1984) grew out of Lipsyte's columns for the New York Times, although he edited them to appeal to an adolescent audience. Assignment: Sports serves as a historical guide of American athletics and runs the gamut of topics. Lipsyte chronicles the emergence of female athletes, the Black Power protests in the 1968 Summer Olympics, and provides portraits of sports figures such as Joe Namath, Muhammud Ali, and baseball manager Casey Stengel. This collection of materials includes an edited typescript, the master galley, unbound blues and unbound folded and gathered sheets. All include the author's, editor's, and typesetter's marks.

In The Chemo Kid (1992), Lipsyte addresses the troubles an awkward youth, Fred Bauer, experiences in high school and how he deals with having cancer. As a side effect of his chemotherapy, an experimental drug gives Fred incredible strength and sensory perception for short periods of time, enabling him to accomplish herculean tasks. Besides using these new abilities to save his high school from the local drug dealer and a steroid-pumped football star, Fred also reveals the corruption of the town mayor and ties to Sinclair Ecosystems, a local toxic-waste disposal plant illegally dumping waste into the town reservoir. Ultimately, Fred's cancer retreats into remission. For this humorous, well-written book the collection has an edited typescript, three sets of edited proofs, galleys, unbound blues, and folded and gathered sheets.

In Free to Be Muhammud Ali (1978), Lipsyte wrote about the one figure in boxing he considered the most colorful: Cassius Clay, or Muhammud Ali. When Lipsyte began covering the boxing beat for the Times in 1964, he also began following Ali's career. For more than three years he spent time with and wrote about Ali. Finally, Lipsyte finished a biography of the famous boxer, recounting episodes of the fighter's life to illustrate Ali's charmismatic nature. For this novel, the collection contains three edited typescripts, an edited galley, a book description for the front and back flap of the dust jacket, plus the book jacket layout and color separation.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Lipsyte wrote a "fifties trilogy" consisting of the books One Fat Summer (1977), Summer Rules (1981), and The Summerboy (1982). In this trilogy, protagonist Bobby Marks comes of age in the fifties and conquers an adolescent weight problem. The action of each book occurs in Rumson Lake, a resort town of upstate New York, where Bobby's family spends the summers. Bobby matures during these vacations, learning to overcome his problems through determination, hard work, and positive values. This same coming-of-age theme runs through many of Lipsyte's books for adolescents. The collection holds an edited manuscript, proofs, and unbound blues for The Summerboy and the book jacket layout and color separation for One Fat Summer.

Series and Subseries

Books (1970-1992)

Box Inventory


A. Books

ASSIGNMENT: SPORTS by Robert Lipsyte (New York: Harper & Row, 1970, 1984). 1/1 Typescript, edited by author and typesetter, plus mixed typescript and proof edited for 1984 edition, 185 pp.; 1/2 Galley, master set, edited by typesetter, 184 pp.; 1/3 Galley, 186 pp.; 2/1 Unbound blueprint proofs, first pass, edited, 177 pp.; 2/2 Folded and gathered sheets, final pass, 200 pp. THE CHEMO KID by Robert Lipsyte (New York: HarperCollins, 1992). 2/3 Typescript, edited by author & copy editor, 159 pp. plus title page, credits, and dedication; 2/4 Proof (8/20/91), edited by author & typesetter, 185 pp.; 3/1 Proof (10/1/91), edited by author & typesetter, 169 pp.; 3/2 Proof (10/31/91), edited by author & typesetter, 169 pp. plus miscellaneous memoranda (10 items), & miscellaneous edited proof pages; 3/3 Galley, cut pages, 170 pp.; 4/1 Unbound blueprint proofs, bears editor's marks, 107 pp.; 4/2 Folded and gathered sheets, 107 pp. FREE TO BE MUHAMMUD ALI by Robert Lipsyte (New York: Harper and Row, 1978). 4/3 Typescript, edited by typesetter, chaps. 1-20, 115 pp.; 4/4 Typescript, copy of original, 113 pp.; 4/5 Typescript, copy, miscellaneous revised pages, 77 pp.; 4/6 Galley, edited, 72 pp.; 4/7 Book description for front and back flat, 2 pp; See Box 6 for dust jacket materials. ONE FAT SUMMER by Robert Lipsyte (New York: Harper & Row, 1977). 5/1 Galley, 150 pp., book and author descriptions, 6 items; See Box 6 for dust jacket materials. THE SUMMERBOY by Robert Lipsyte (New York: Harper & Row, 1982). 5/2 Manuscript, edited, 154 pp.; 5/3 Author's first proof, edited, 153 pp.; 5/4 Author's second proof, edited, 153 pp.; 5/5 Unbound blueprint proofs, 153 pp.; FREE TO BE MUHAMMUD ALI by Robert Lipsyte (New York: Harper & Row, 1978). 6/1 Book jacket layout, 1 item; 6/2 Book jacket color separation, 1 item. ONE FAT SUMMER by Robert Lipsyte (New York: Harper & Row, 1977). 6/3 Book jacket layout, 1 item; 6/4 Book jacket color separation, 1 item.

Processed: September 8, 1994
Revised: June 2001

Biographical Sketch | Scope & Content | Related Collections | Series & Subseries | Box Inventory
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The de Grummond Children's Literature Collection

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