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John Lardner Papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-LardnerJ

Scope and Content of the Collection

Correspondence between professional colleagues, family, and friends; works, including manuscripts and clippings of newspaper and magazine articles, the screen treatment, "Riley Grannan," co-authored by brother Ring Lardner, Jr., and the manuscript for the unfinished book, "Drinking in America"; personal papers including World War II and sports memorabilia, biographical and financial materials; photographs of historical sports figures and portraits of Lardner, and original artwork by Walt Kelly and Willard Mullin.


  • Creation: approximately 1900-2001
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1930 - 1960



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The John Lardner papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The John Lardner papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections at

Biography of John Lardner

Sportswriter, humorist, reporter, and critic

John Lardner was born on May 4, 1912 on the South Side of Chicago, the eldest son of Ring and Ellis Lardner. At the time, his father Ring was an established and popular sports writer then employed by the Chicago Examiner. The Lardners lived in the Chicago area until 1919 when Ring Larder signed on with the Bell Syndicate to write a weekly column. The family moved to the East Coast, first in Greenwich, Connecticut, then in Great Neck, Long Island, and finally East Hampton. Larder and his three brothers, James, Ring, Jr., and David all took to writing to some degree, but none enjoyed the success that John would achieve.

In 1926, Lardner attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts where he was on the editorial board of the Phillipian. Following graduation from Andover, Lardner spent one year at Harvard, and another year at the Sorbonne. In 1931 while still in France, Lardner worked briefly at the Paris branch of the Herald Tribune. Upon returning to New York in 1931, at the young age of 19, Lardner was hired by the New York Herald Tribune where he worked under city editor Stanley Walker. Walker was by all accounts a demanding editor, but greatly admired Lardner, saying that, “Lardner is one sportswriter who can write. He has taste, judgement, knowledge, and style.” While at the Herald, Lardner was a regular at the infamous Bleecks, a bar patronized by artists and writers such as friend Walt Kelly and novelist John O’Hara. Lardner was infamous in his mastery of the “match game,” a drinking game in which opponents verbally outwitted each other.

In 1933 Lardner left the Herald and signed to John Wheeler’s North American Newspaper Alliance (NANA) to write a daily syndicated sports column. The column, which he wrote until 1948, ran locally in the New York Post and nationally in dozens of other papers. In addition, he wrote a weekly sports column, “Sport Week” (later “Lardner’s Week”) for Newsweek from 1939 to 1960. During World War II, Lardner travelled as a war correspondent to Europe, Australia, and Africa sending back dispatches for NANA and Newsweek, and writing longer articles on the war for The Saturday Evening Post and The New Yorker. During the late 1940s and 1950s Larder wrote features and columns for several other magazines including Look, Sport, True, the New York Times Magazine, and even Women’s Home Companion. His journalism was collected in several books. Southwest Passage: The Yanks in the Pacific, gathered his World War II pieces from the Saturday Evening Post, his sports columns were collected in the volumes It Beats Working, White Hopes and Other Tigers, Strong Cigars and Lovely Women, and The World of John Lardner. He collaborated on a film treatment, "Riley Grannan," with his brother Ring Lardner, Jr., and at the time of his death, was working on a historical work called "Drinking in America," which was never completed.

Lardner married Hazel Hairston, a secretary at NANA in 1938. They had three children, Susan, Mary Jane, and John Nicholas. Tragically, Lardner died young, having contracted tuberculosis (like his father Ring Lardner) and a heart condition early on. He succumbed to a heart attack at his home in New York City in 1960.


8.4 Linear Feet (16 boxes, 1 oversize box, and 1 bound volume)


Correspondence, works, personal materials, photographs, and artwork of sportswriter, humorist, reporter, and critic John Lardner.


Papers are organized in the following series

Series 1: Correspondence, 1929-2001
Boxes 1-5
Series 2: Works, 1923-1961
Boxes 6-13
Series 3: Personal, 1929-1961
Box 14
Series 4: Photographs, approximately 1990-1956
Boxes 15-16
Series 5: Artwork, approximately 1951-1959
Box 17

Collection Stack Location

1 23 3-4


Gift, Susan Lardner, 2008.

Processed by

Lisa Janssen, 2009.


This inventory was created with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this inventory do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Inventory of the John Lardner papers, approximately 1900-2001, bulk 1930-1960
Lisa Janssen
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States