The Erich Heller Papers fill thirteen boxes and span the period 1932 to 1990. The major portion (seven boxes) consists of correspondence, most of which is comprised of letters to Heller and much is in German. The other major section, publications (almost five boxes), contains primarily drafts and reprints of articles, and book reviews by Heller and reviews of books authored by Heller. Manuscripts for some of Heller's books, and some other papers, are in the Schiller Archives in Marbach, Germany.
The Heller Papers are organized in three categories: biographical materials, correspondence, and publications. There are also small amounts of teaching files and materials relating to papers Heller presented at professional organizations.
The biographical materials include curricula vitae, clippings about Heller's activities and his writings, several interviews, and programs of meetings at which Heller presented papers.
The correspondence is of considerable value. While much of it pertains to Heller's publications, literary criticism, speaking engagements, and travels, there is also a large amount of personal correspondence. Several of his correspondents also included with their letters handwritten or typed copies of their poems (e.g., Moriz Seeler and Robert McNeer).
Of special note is correspondence with:
1. Conrad Aiken. Four letters of 1953 commenting on Heller's recent book, The Disinherited Mind, and Healer's views on poetry. Aiken sent Heller a copy of his book, Ushant, and wrote about where he pictured himself as a poet and what he thought of T. S. Eliot's views on poetry. Aiken and Heller became friends and visited many times. Early in 1976 Aiken's widow, Mary, wrote Heller about her decision to give Conrad's papers and memorabilia to the Huntington Library. She also urged Heller to attend a gathering in memory of Conrad at the Huntington.
2. Lord and Lady Annan. Lord Annan, Provost of King's College, Cambridge, twice tried to bring his old friend, Heller, to that College: first, as College Lecturer in German (1959), and second, as Head of the Department and as Professor (1971). Eleven letters (three from Heller) discuss these offers. Lady Annan and Heller exchanged nine letters (two from Heller), about her translations from German of two works by Fontane. Nine additional letters from or to individuals associated with these translations are in this folder.
3. Hannah Arendt. Three letters and three postcards (all in German) to Heller, 1960-1973, deal with literary and personal matters.
4. T. S. Eliot. Twelve letters (1947-1958) to Heller and one from Heller (1955). Eliot wrote in his connection with the publisher, Faber and Faber, asking to see Heller's manuscript on Thomas Mann (Heller had earlier suggested this), although he felt that another publisher would be better suited for the work. Other literary matters are discussed in these letters. Eliot offered to help Heller arrange lectures at the University of Chicago. Later Eliot wrote that he had enjoyed Heller's essays on Goethe but disagreed on several points. Other letters deal with poetry, thought, and beliefs. Heller's letter to Eliot takes up these points at some length, especially in relation to the work of Hans Egon Holthusen. The final letter contains substantial praise for Heller's The Ironic German.
5. E. M. Forster. Eight brief notes and cards (1947-1969), all to Heller, touching on literary and personal matters.
6. Werner Heisenberg. Seven letters and one card (all in German) to Heller (1948-1966). These deal with possible arrangements for a translation of one of Heisenberg's books, with various philosophical and literary matters, and thanks to Heller for sending one of his books and for Heller's invitation to give some lectures at the University College in Swansea.
7. Hans Egon Holthusen. Eleven letters totaling 25 pp.; (all in German) to Heller, 1979-1984, which deal with literary and personal matters.
8. Thomas Mann and Family. This folder includes three letters (12 pp.) in German from Thomas Mann to Heller (1948-1954); a leaf from a manuscript of Felix Krull; three letters and a telegram from Katia Mann; a few items from the Mann's children; and some related material.
9. Oskar Seidlin. Ten letters (all in German) to Heller, 1974-1984, on literary and philosophical matters. This folder also includes letters and other material relevant to the Seidlin Festschrift.
10. Stephen Spender. Six letters (1961-1972), all to Heller, take up a request from Heller to arrange a lecture at Northwestern and arrangements for visits, a request to judge a manuscript for Spender's magazine, Encounter, and a request for Heller's help on Spender's translation of a poem by Hoelderlin.
11. Dolf Sternberger. Thirty letters (all in German) to Heller, 1966-1988. This folder also contains letters pertinent to some of Sternberger s literary work and its publication (some in English) and a handwritten introduction Sternberger gave to welcome guests at a meeting in Heidelberg, July 27-28, 1972.
12. Friedrich Torberg. A substantial number of letters (all in German) to Heller (1953-1981) about literary and personal matters.
Also of interest are substantial numbers of letters between Heller and four young friends and colleagues:
1. Joachim Beug, 1962-1989. Most of these are in German and are to Heller.
2. Graham Story, 1940-1943. All of these are in English and practically all are from Heller.
3. Anthony Thorlby, 1953-1990. Most are in English and most are to Heller.
4. Barton Walgomot, 1967-1989. Most are in English and most are to Heller.
The publications category consists mostly of drafts of articles and introductions to books, some in English and some in German. There is a draft of one book, Die Bedeutung Friedrich Nietzsches. The folder titled Willy Schenk (Box 11, Folder 22) contains many of his poems, some in manuscript. There are many reviews (in German and English) of books by Heller.