J.D. Salinger Signed His Letters ‘Jerome’

Letters by J.D. Salinger signed 'Jerome'

Right now, and for about the next 10 days, the Harry Ransom Center is showcasing its collection of letters and materials relating to the late J.D. Salinger, the famous novelist who hated fame.

For a guy who so fiercely guarded his privacy, these little glimpses into his mind — particularly the few personal letters that his longtime friend Elizabeth Murray sold and were bought by the HRC — are rare and delectable treasures.

And what do we find out? Well, among other things, J.D. signed his letters “Jerome.”

It’s a small thing, really — how an author signs his or her letters. But with the reclusive and (my impression) grumpy old coot, seeing his letters signed with his full given first name humanizes him.

This is the whole point of the HRC. The behind-the-scenes look at writers and photographers certainly rounds out our understanding of them.

If all we ever knew about an author were her finished books, we’d miss out on knowing what they were really like.

For me, at least, knowing that Salinger 1) had friends and 2) was called “Jerome” by them makes me see the author of the Catcher in the Rye a bit differently.

Perhaps he wasn’t just a goddamn lousy codger.



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