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Donald A. Wollheim papers

Call Number: MS 250


Avid science fiction writer and fan Donald A. Wollheim (1914-1990) was the founding editor-in-chief of Ace Books and editor-in-chief for Avon Books. He founded the family owned and operated DAW Books, the only paperback house devoted entirely to science fiction and fantasy. This collection reflects his writing and publishing activities, and includes correspondence, manuscripts, editor's proofs, and books from his library.


  • Creation: 1933 - 2007


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Donald A. Wollheim

Donald A. Wollheim was born October 1, 1914 in New York City, New York. Wollheim was a writer, editor, and publisher of science fiction, and known as the creator of the science fiction paperback. A member of the Futurians, a group of science fiction fans, he was a leading influence in the development of science fiction and science fiction fandom in the 20th Century.

In 1933 Wollheim sold his first science fiction piece to Astounding Stories magazine. During his career, he authored seventeen novels, numerous short stories, and edited a variety of science fiction anthologies.

Wollheim was the founding editor-in-chief of Ace Books and held the same position for Avon Books, working for these publishing houses from the 1940s through early 1970s.

In 1971 Wollheim founded DAW Books, after his initials, with his wife, Elsie Balter Wollheim. It was the first mass marketing publishing house for science fiction and fantasy. Wollheim continued to edit DAW Books' annual World's Best Science Fiction series until his death on November 2, 1990.


29.75 Linear Feet (41 boxes)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The Donald A. Wollheim papers date from 1933-2007 and largely consist of manuscripts from Wollheim's years as an editor but also include some of his own original manuscripts. The correspondence contains original letters from influential members of the science fiction community, including Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, and Frederik Pohl.

The manuscripts authored by Wollheim include the handwritten short story "Cosmos Eye" and "The Hand in the Fog," the first short story that Wollheim published. There are typed manuscripts of Wollheim's novels The Secret of Saturn's Rings and The Secret of the Martian Moons. Also included is the first draft of One Against the Moon. The collection also includes a later draft of this novel.

The collection includes more than forty manuscripts from Wollheim's years as an editor. Manuscripts include novels by Brian N. Ball, Alan Burt Akers, and Michael Moorcock among others.

There are also letters and documents regarding organizations to which Wollheim belonged, including the International Scientific Association and the New York Science Fiction League. Documents include correspondence and member information.

A large portion of the collection consists of paperback and hardcover books. Many of Wollheim's texts are included as well as those published by Avon, Ace, and DAW Books.

Physical Location

MS 250

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, University of Wyoming, 2008.

Guide to the Donald A. Wollheim Collection
Donald A. Wollheim papers
Finding aid prepared by skt, 2008. Finding aid encoded by skt, 2008. Finding aid revised by mwh, 2018.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Donald A. Wollheim papers, Department of Special Collections, MS 250, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States