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Identifier: MC 1506

Louise A. DeSalvo Papers



  • 1904 - 2018
  • Majority of material found within 1970 - 2015

Scope and Contents

This collection primarily contains materials related to Louise A. DeSalvo’s professional life as a writer, author, and professor. Also included are documents relating to her personal and family life.

The bulk of the collection pertains to DeSalvo’s published works, including books, short stories, and essays. Document types in the Books and Short Writings series include edited drafts, manuscripts, writing journals, reviews, correspondence, copyright permission requests, and research. Of special interest are correspondence and a settlement agreement between DeSalvo and Michael Leaska relating to a dispute over their book, The Letters of Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf.

Also included in the collection is general correspondence from friends and coworkers of DeSalvo. The series includes letters pertaining to both personal and professional matters. Of special interest are correspondence from members of Virginia Woolf’s family, including Quentin Bell, Anne Olivier Bell, and Angelica Garnett, as well as from Vita Sackville-West’s son, Nigel Nicolson.

The Teaching Materials series contains materials relating to her work as a professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University and Hunter College. Document types include university contracts, exams, course outlines, and teaching evaluations.

Also included in this collection is DeSalvo’s dissertation from her PhD program at New York University. The work examines Virginia Woolf’s revision process. The Dissertation and Other Graduate School Materials series also includes correspondence, documents related to her oral defense, and transcripts from her school.

The Journals series includes notebooks detailing her writing process and personal life. The series includes DeSalvo’s travel journals, which relate to trips she took throughout her life and occasionally contain memorabilia.

The collection also contains several planners DeSalvo used. They detail her work schedule as well as personal appointments she made.

The Blog Materials series contains documents relating to the WordPress blog DeSalvo created. The blog, titled Writing A Life, contained posts about her experiences with and thoughts about writing. Document types in this series include printouts of the posts, articles relating to them, and a list of all entries.

The Miscellaneous series includes personal and professional materials. Document types include publicity materials, writers’ group materials, photographs, and drawings. Of special interest are a transcription of an interview DeSalvo did with Warren Padula and a letter from Leonard Woolf to Vita Sackville-West.

Also included in the collection are audiovisual materials in the form of VHS tapes and cassettes. The recordings include interviews of DeSalvo, lectures she gave, and her son Justin DeSalvo learning to read.


19 Cubic Feet (17 record center cartons and 4 phase boxes)

Conditions Governing Access

The Journal series is not avaliable to the public until September 27, 2028. Advanced notice required to consult collection.

Language of Materials



Biographical / Historical

Louise Anita DeSalvo was born Louise Anita Sciacchetano in Jersey City, New Jersey on September 27, 1942. Her parents, Louis and Mildred (Calabrese) Sciacchetano, were Italian-American and also had DeSalvo’s sister, Jill Sciacchetano. The family lived in Hoboken, New Jersey during DeSalvo’s childhood before moving to Ridgefield, New Jersey, where she attended Ridgefield Memorial High School. After graduating in 1959, she attended Rutgers University and obtained a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1963. That same year, she married Ernest J. DeSalvo, with whom she had two children: Justin DeSalvo and Jason DeSalvo. DeSalvo later pursued a master’s degree and a PhD in English at New York University, obtaining the former in 1972 and the latter in 1977.

DeSalvo wrote extensively throughout her life, publishing books and contributing essays to various publications. Many of her works centered on either her Italian-American childhood or her Virginia Woolf scholarship. Her memoirs include Vertigo and Crazy in the Kitchen, and her Virginia Woolf works include Virginia Woolf's First Voyage and Virginia Woolf. DeSalvo also published books on other topics, including Conceived With Malice, Writing as a Way of Healing, and her novel Casting Off. Her other book work includes co-editing Territories of the Voice and Between Women.

In addition to her literary work, DeSalvo was a professor and lecturer. She worked as an English adjunct professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University and later became an English associate professor at Hunter College, where she became the Jenny Hunter Endowed Scholar for Creative Writing and Literature. DeSalvo passed away on October 31, 2018.


This collection is arranged into ten series: Books, Short Writings, General Correspondence, Teaching Materials, Dissertation and Other Graduate School Materials, Journals, Planners, Blog Materials, Miscellaneous, and Audiovisual Materials. Books has sixteen sub-series: Virginia Woolf’s: First Voyage, Melymbrosia, The Letters of Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf, Casting Off, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Virginia Woolf, Conceived with Malice, Vertigo, Breathless, Adultery, Writing as a Way of Healing, Crazy in the Kitchen, On Moving, Chasing Ghosts, The House of Early Sorrows, and Unpublished Books. Audiovisual Materials has two sub-series: VHS and Cassettes. All materials are arranged according to the principle of original order. Please note that some materials with sensitive information were photocopied and replaced with the information removed.

Guide to the Louise A. DeSalvo Papers
Katelyn Leffler
The arrangement and description of this collection was funded by the DeSalvo family.