Scope and arrangement
The Donald Vining Papers consist of his correspondence, diaries, novels, play scripts, stories, articles, scrapbook, and two videotaped interviews. The correspondence contains personal correspondence with his lover, Richard Purinton, and business letters concerning his writing career. His writings include both published and unpublished fiction and nonfiction. His diaries include two of his original childhood diaries, 1926-1927, as well as typescripts of his diaries, 1926-1970, illustrated with photographs, that Vining called his "Diary Digests." Also in the collection is a scrapbook of press clippings and memorabilia.
The Donald Vining papers are arranged in five series:
The bulk of Vining's correspondence, 1950-1996, is arranged chronologically. Most of the correspondence concerns his writing career, including attempts to sell his writing, rejection and acceptance letters, and fan mail. Correspondents include the magazines the Advocate, Gay Community News, InTouch for Men, First Hand Magazine, Mandate, Blueboy, and Diarist's Journal. Vining corresponded with various theater groups as well, such as the American Theatre Association, the Gay Theatre Alliance, the Stonewall Repertoire Theater and other small groups that were interested in producing his plays. There is correspondence with Doubleday concerning the publication of The Gay Handbook and with Crossing Press on the publication of How Can You Come Out If You've Never Been In? There is also correspondence with Yale University Library's Manuscripts and Archives department discussing the library's holdings of Vining's diaries and papers. Vining's personal correspondence, 1948-1954, 1980-1981, is primarily with his lover of forty years, Richard Purinton. The men wrote to each other often, especially when one or the other was traveling.
- 1927-1994, n.d.
The writings are divided into eight subseries: Almanack de Gotham, novels, autobiographical notes, short stories, playscripts, writing ideas, first drafts and diaries. Almanack de Gotham is a compilation of Vining's musings on life in New York City. The autobiographical notes consist of a journal in which Vining writes on such topics as his parents' lives, his favorite foods, and his pets. The playscript Antony and Cleopatra (1958) is accompanied by correspondence between Vining, John Gutman of the Metropolitan Opera and composer, Samuel Barber concerning Vining's proposal that Barber write an opera based on the Shakespeare play using Vining's script as a libretto. Although Vining's idea and his script were rejected, the Met later commissioned Barber to write the opera Antony and Cleopatra for the opening of the new Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center. Also included is a series of plays written for the Yale University radio station (WICC) program The Listener's Theater. The early phase of Vining's writing is represented by his writing ideas and his first drafts. The writing ideas contain character sketches, plot ideas, and story outlines. Each notebook of first drafts contains an index listing the title, date written, and the date published or produced.
Two volumes of Vining's original diaries, 1926 and 1927, are included in the collection. The 1926 diary contains entries about school and a small collection of recipes. Inserted is a photocopy of a photograph of Vining when he was eight years old. The 1927 volume consists of daily entries and Vining's early attempts at poetry.
The Diary Digests are typed transcripts of his original diaries, accompanied by photographs. Selections from these were published as A Gay Diary in 1979.
Includes newspaper clippings, ads for the Pepys Press, reviews of books and notices of Vining's readings.
- 1992, n.d.