Walter Kerr Theater Collection Now At DeSales
The book collection and working library of renowned New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning theatre critic and writer, Walter Kerr, now has a new home. Once housed in the den of the family's residence that overlooked Long Island Sound at Larchmont, N.Y., the books now are showcased in an inviting, well-lighted area on the second floor of Trexler Library that offers a lovely view of campus and, specifically, of the Labuda Center for Performing Arts and theater at DeSales.
A formal dedication of the Walter Kerr Collection will be held at 11:00 a.m., Monday, September 12, in the Trexler. Among the Kerr family members who plan to attend are grandson Peter Kerr '07, a theater major at DeSales, and sons, Gregory, a faculty member at DeSales, and Christopher, a lawyer who resides in New York.
The collection covers the whole range of theater arts in the 20th century and includes more than 2,500 titles that Kerr used when writing his reviews and other works. The books were donated to DeSales by the six children of the late Walter Kerr and his wife, Jean, a playwright and author of numerous works, such as Please Don't East the Daisies, a successful novel, and basis for a hit comedy and television program. Kerr collaborated with his wife on numerous plays, including the musical Goldilocks, which won two Tony awards.
According to Gregory Kerr, associate professor of philosophy and theology at DeSales, the collection is a circulating one because Kerr family members want the books to be used and appreciated, and made available to students and anyone else with an interest in the subject matter.
"The books represent the intellectual atmosphere in which he breathed," said Gregory Kerr, youngest son of Walter Kerr. "They provide a unique window into the New York theatre culture."
Gregory Kerr has fond memories of the family home, especially the room where his father worked, as it was the scene of many family gatherings and movie screenings.
"The books were the walls of the room, which also had three large glass walls that looked out onto the grounds and the ocean," said Gregory Kerr. "It was my favorite room in the house."
The collection includes works such as Shakespeare at the Old Vic by Mary Clark, A Player's Place: The story of the Actors Studio by David Garfield, The Off, Off Broadway Book by Albert Poland & Bruce Mailman, No Turn Unstoned: The Worst Ever Theatrical Reviews by Diana Rigg and Theatrical Companion to Coward by Raymond Mander. DeSales also has scrap books of personal copies of Walter Kerr's reviews, which he clipped, dated and assembled chronologically.
"The collection is a wonderful asset to the university," said Debbie Malone, director of Trexler Library. "The breadth and depth of the collection make it a valuable resource for our students. The books cover a wide range of 20th century theatre history and criticism. A number of volumes are heavily illustrated and it is just fun to browse through them."
Walter Kerr (1913 - 1996), one of the most influential theatre critics of his generation, began his newspaper career in 1951, as a critic for the New York Herald Tribune. He joined the New York Times in 1966, and wrote reviews for 17 years. He won a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1978. In 1990, the Ritz Theatre on West 48th Street was renamed the Walter Kerr Theater in his honor.
Jean Kerr (1923 - 2003), American novelist and playwright, is the author of Please Don't Eat the Daisies. Her other books include The Snake Had All the Lines and How I Got to Be Perfect. Among her plays are Mary, Mary, Poor Richard, and Lunch Hour.
Press Release: Walter Kerr Theater Collection Now At DeSales | Posted on: 9/2/2005
For more info:
Tom McNamara, Executive Director of Communications
DeSales University | 2255 Station Avenue | Center Valley, PA 18034
610.282.1100 x1219 | Tom.McNamara@desales.edu