News | April 9, 2013

The Morgan Receives Important Group of Salinger Letters

New York, NY, April 9, 2013—The Morgan Library & Museum will receive a gift from the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York of twenty-eight letters written by J. D. Salinger. The gift commemorates the 150th birthday of Swami Vivekananda, who brought Vedanta, the religious and philosophical teachings of India, to the West in 1893. With this generous new gift, the Morgan now holds fifty-two Salinger letters in its collection.

J. D. Salinger was deeply influenced by Vedanta and had an enduring relationship with Swami Nikhilananda, founder and spiritual leader of the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York. Salinger attended services and classes at the Center in Manhattan, and at the Vivekananda Cottage retreat in New York’s Thousand Island Park.

The gift consists of letters written by Salinger to Swami Nikhilananda, his successor Swami Adiswarananda, and to the Center, from 1967-2006. Numerous correspondences pertain to Salinger’s many donations to the Center over the course of nearly forty years, while others contain reflections on spiritual and other matters.

In a letter dated May 1, 1967, Salinger wrote of Stalin’s daughter, noting, “It strikes me, too, that she ought to know of the existence of Thousand Island Park.” On January 19, 1972, he wrote to Swami Nikhilananda of his wish “that the East had deigned to concentrate some small part of its immeasurable genius to the petty art or science of keeping the body well and fit,” referring to Swami’s need of a wheelchair.

In addition to those letters written by Salinger, the gift also includes correspondences from the Center to Salinger, as well as several notes between the Center and Salinger’s wife, Colleen. In December 2010 she wrote to Swami Vidananda, “with gratitude for all the joy you gave to my husband…”

The gift will be presented on the occasion of a free lecture at the Morgan on Friday, April 12 at 7:30pm, by Kenneth Slawenski, the author of J. D. Salinger: A Life, who will discuss this little-known side of Salinger’s life. 

Two of the letters will be on view at the Morgan from Friday, April 12-Friday, April 19.

“We are deeply grateful for this generous gift from the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center,” said Declan Kiely, Robert H. Taylor Curator and Department Head of Literary and Historical Manuscripts at the Morgan Library & Museum. “The letters reveal J. D. Salinger’s abiding interest in Eastern religion and philosophy, and are an important addition to the Morgan’s growing collection of correspondence and other material related to the author’s life.”



J. D. Salinger & Vedanta
With Kenneth Slawenski
Friday, April 12, 2013, 7:30pm 

Free; Reservations required. 212.685.0008, ext. 560 or


The programs of the Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with The City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.



The Morgan Library & Museum began as the private library of financier Pierpont Morgan, one of the preeminent collectors and cultural benefactors in the United States. Today, more than a century after its founding in 1906, the Morgan serves as a museum, independent research library, musical venue, architectural landmark, and historic site. In October 2010, the Morgan completed the first-ever restoration of its original McKim building, Pierpont Morgan’s private library, and the core of the institution. In tandem with the 2006 expansion project by architect Renzo Piano, the Morgan now provides visitors unprecedented access to its world-renowned collections of drawings, literary and historical manuscripts, musical scores, medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, printed books, and ancient Near Eastern seals and tablets.

General Information
The Morgan Library & Museum
225 Madison Avenue, at 36th Street, New York, NY 10016-3405
Just a short walk from Grand Central and Penn Station

Tuesday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; extended Friday hours, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; closed Mondays, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. The Morgan closes at 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

$15 for adults; $10 for students, seniors (65 and over), and children (under 16); free to Members and children 12 and under accompanied by an adult. Admission is free on Fridays from 7 to 9 p.m. Admission is not required to visit the Morgan Shop.