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Yehuda Amichai papers

Call Number: GEN MSS 572

Scope and Contents

The Yehuda Amichai Papers consist of correspondence, manuscripts, journals, photographs, audio-visual material, printed material, and personal papers documenting the life and work of Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai. The collection spans the years 1929 to 1999, with the bulk of the collection dating from the 1960s to late 1990s.

The collection is especially rich in material documenting Amichai's literary and public life. There are journals and manuscripts documenting Amichai's personal reflections and literary work from the mid 1950s to late 1990s; there are translations of his poetry into numerous languages and critical articles and essays by others about his work; and there are letters, photographs, and various kinds of printed materials documenting his public life in the later decades of his life.

Due to limitations with the technology (Edix) used by the library for describing manuscript collections, Hebrew names and titles have been romanized (transliterated). Special characters in the romanized Hebrew, including the ayin and aleph, have been ommitted temporarily pending changes to the software used by the library to deliver manuscript finding aids.

The collection is housed in 104 boxes and organized into nine series: Correspondence, Writings of Yehuda Amichai, Writings of Others, Journals, Photographs, Printed Material, Audio-Visual Materials, Personal Papers, and 2007 Addition. Boxes 81-104 contain Oversize, Restricted, and Restricted Fragile material.

Series I, Correspondence , housed in boxes 1-14, is organized into two subseries for General Correspondence and Third Party Correspondence.

General Correspondence, housed in boxes 1-13, consists chiefly of single letters and small groups of incoming personal and professional correspondence. The collection features correspondence with writers, editors, translators, publishers, and literary scholars and critics, as well as prominent Israeli and Jewish cultural and political figures. In the 1980s and 1990s Amichai travelled regularly for readings, conferences, and other events, and there is also considerable event-related correspondence with various academic, cultural, and political institutions.

Correspondents in the series include the cultural and political figures Teddy Kollek, Ehud Olmert, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin, Moshe Safdie, and Zalman Shazar, and the authors David Albahari, John Ashbery, Lynne Reid Banks, Breyten Breytenbach, Paul Celan, Rita Dove, Martin Gregor-Dellin, Patricia Hampl, John Hollander, Ted Hughes, Erica Jong, Patrick Joseph Kavanagh, Naomi Shihab Nye, Cynthia Ozick, Linda Pastan, Anne Sexton, Alan Sillitoe, Marin Sorescu, and others. Israeli authors include Yigal Allon, David Avidan, Amos Oz, Meir Shalev, and Anton Shammas.

The correspondence dates from 1944 to 1999, with the bulk dating from the late 1960s to mid 1990s. Letters are chiefly in Hebrew and English, with some German.

Third Party Correspondence, housed in box 14, consists of all loose third party correspondence. The bulk of these third party letters probably came to Amichai as enclosures and, over time, were separated from the original letters.

Series II, Writings of Yehuda Amichai , housed in boxes 15-36, is organized into nine subseries: Articles and Essays; Children's Books; Forwords and Introductions; Interviews; Novels; Plays; Poetry; Speeches, Lectures, and Addresses; and Other Writings. The majority of the manuscripts are holograph and typescript drafts in Hebrew, with a significant minority in English. Again, because the library's software tool for describing manuscript collections does not support Hebrew characters, titles in Hebrew have been romanized (transliterated). Consequently, romanized titles indicate Hebrew language works. Within each subseries, works have been arranged alphabetically by title.

The Articles and Essays, Forwords and Introductions, and Interviews subseries in the Writings contain a number of drafts and printed versions of short writings in these genres. The interviews, for example, conducted and drafted by others, discuss literature, life in Israel, and Judaism and Jewishness, among other topics, and are a rich source of biographical information. The interviews, which date from 1979 to 1996, provide an almost twenty-year profile of Amichai's attitudes about and perspectives on these and other topics. Writings in these subseries can be found in Hebrew, English, German, and Spanish.

The Children's Books subseries contains multiple drafts in Hebrew of Amichai's major works in this genre, including Sefer ha-laylah ha-gadol (The Big Night Book), ha-Zanav ha-shamen shel Numah (Numa's Fat Tail), and Mah she-karah le-Roni bi-Nyu York (What Happened to Roni in New York).

The Novels subseries includes galley proofs to Lo me akhshav, lo mi-kan (Not of This Time, Not of This Place) and holograph drafts and draft fragments, also in Hebrew, of an untitled novel.

Plays includes drafts of the major works, Ninah me-Ashkelon (Nina of Ashkelon) and Le-ehov bi-Yerushalayim (To Love in Jerusalem), and a number of translations into English and other languages. Translations have been placed after the Hebrew manuscripts when both exist.

The Poetry subseries, housed in boxes 20-33, is arranged into four subdivisions: Collections, Individual Poems, Translations, and Adaptations. The subseries features drafts for collections and individual poems, as well as translations from the Hebrew. Amichai's major collections from Me-ahore kol zeh mistater osher gadol (Behind All This Lies a Great Happiness) are well represented with multiple drafts of poems. Where translations are also present for particular collections, they have been placed after the original Hebrew manuscripts. Both collections and individual poems are arranged alphabetically by title.

The Translation section consists chiefly of translations of Amichai's work by others, though translations by Amichai, from Hebrew into English, can also be found. Both drafts and printed versions of individual poems and small groups of poems are present. The translations, which are arranged by language, include examples of Amichai's work in over fifteen different languages. The languages represented include: Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Gujarati, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish. The final section of the subseries contains a number of adaptations of Amichai's poems set to music.

Printed versions of Amichai's poems, in Hebrew and in translation, can also be found among the clippings and periodicals in Series VI. Printed Materials.

The Speeches, Addresses, and Lectures subseries includes manuscript and printed transcripts of speeches, as well as notes and outlines in Amichai's hand. The majority are in Hebrew, but many English and German speeches are found here as well. In addition to giving readings, Amichai spoke at a number of literary and cultural events, such as conferences, festivals, book fairs, and award ceremonies, during the last two decades of his life. These public addresses cover such topics as literature, poetry, national identity, and the Israeli-Arab dispute. There are also memorial tributes for Yitzhak Rabin and others.

Notes and drafts for autobiographical statements, memorial tributes, and other short pieces of writing, including unidentified writings, can be found in the Other Writings subseries.

Series III, Writings of Others , housed in boxes 37-40, contains drafts and printed versions of work by others. The bulk of the writings in this series are about Amichai or Hebrew and Israeli literature and poetry more generally. Presumably most of these works, which include reviews and articles, as well as poems and theses, were sent to Amichai as a courtesy. Most of the work is in English, Hebrew, and German. The series is first arranged alphabetically by last name and then by title.

Series IV, Journals , housed in boxes 41-48, is arranged chronologically by date. The journals, written in Hebrew and German, date from 1954 to 1998, and include notes, diary entries, drafts and draft fragments for poems, and ideas for poems. Note: journals for the years 1964 to 1966 and 1993 are restricted.

Series V, Photographs , housed in boxes 49-51, is organized into four subseries: Yehuda Amichai, Events and Trips, Other People, and Other. There are portraits and snapshots of Yehuda Amichai alone and with others dating from 1929 to 1996. The series includes many photographs from literary events and reading tours, and of other writers: John Berryman, Breyten Breytenbach, J. M. Coetzee, Ted Hughes, Octavio Paz, Vasko Popa, Meir Shalev, Kazuko Shiraishi, Elizabeth Swados, and Andrei Voznesenski, among others.

There are approximately 200 cut film negatives corresponding to prints in the collection. The negatives were removed during processing and are stored separately in cold storage. A small number of photographic reference prints were made from negatives lacking corresponding prints.

Series VI, Printed Materials , housed in boxes 52-72, is organized into twelve subseries: Announcements; Awards; Bibliographies; Brochures, Pamphlets, and Promotional Material; Business Cards; Catalogs; Clippings; Conference and Event Material; Periodicals; and Other.

The printed materials in the collection document Amichai's public life from the 1950s to late 1990s. Announcements for readings and discussions, conference and event materials, and awards document public appearances and recognition. Conference and Event Material, for example, consists of printed ephemera relating to literary events attended by Amichai from the late 1960s to late 1990s.

The clippings and periodicals (i.e. journals, newspapers and newsletters) in the series contain work by and about Amichai. Here work by Amichai consists chiefly of printed versions of poems in Hebrew and in translation. Works about or mentioning Amichai range from brief references to literary analysis. Clippings and periodicals are both first arranged alphabetically by language. Languages represented in the clippings include: Chinese, Croation, Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Macedonian, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish. The bulk of the clippings are stored in Oversize. Additional languages represented in the periodicals are Arabic, Georgian, Icelandic, and Serbian. Within each language, periodicals are arranged alphabetically by title. Periodicals are housed in boxes 59-71.

Series VII, Audio-Visual Material , housed in boxes 73-77, is organized into two subseries, Audio Recordings and Moving Image Material. There are original and commercial audio recordings of Amichai and others reading his work, and original and commercial video recordings of various events, including award ceremonies, interviews, and readings.

Series VIII, Personal Papers , housed in boxes 78-80, is arranged alphabetically by material type. There are addresses and phone numbers, artwork and drawings, biographical material, calendars, financial, legal, and medical records, lists of poems, and schedules and itineraries. Oversize material, housed in boxes 81-94, includes items from Series I-VIII. Restricted Fragile Papers are housed in boxes 97-104.


  • 1929 - 2007


Language of Materials

Chiefly in Hebrew and English; some materials in German, French, Spanish, and Italian.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Restricted Fragile material in boxes 97-109 may be consulted only with the permission of the appropriate curator. Preservation photocopies, photographic prints, and digital surrogates have been substituted in the main files for reference use.

Yehuda Amichai's journals for the years 1964 to 1966 and 1993, housed in boxes 95-96, are restricted. For further information consult the appropriate curator.

Box 73, folders 1963-1976, are unused. Folder 1982 in box 74 is unused. Original audiocassettes are housed in box 98.

Conditions Governing Use

The Yehuda Amichai Papers are the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Yehuda Amichai Papers were acquired through purchases and gifts from Yehuda and Chana Amichai in 2000 and 2007.


56.77 Linear Feet ((102 boxes) + 9 broadsides, 6 cold storage)

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The Yehuda Amichai Papers consist of correspondence, manuscripts, journals, photographs, printed material, audio-visual and other materials documenting the life and work of Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai.

YEHUDA AMICHAI (1924-2000)

Yehuda Amichai, one of Israel's best known modern poets, was born in Germany in 1924 and immigrated to Palestine in 1936. He served with the Jewish Brigade of the British Army in WWII and with the Palmach in the Arab-Israeli War of 1948 before completing an undergraduate degree in 1955. He taught in secondary schools in Jerusalem for many years and later at a teachers college. He published the first of several poetry collections in 1955, and is the author of essays, children's books, novels, plays, and short stories. Yehuda Amichai was honored with a number of literary awards and nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature. His work has been translated into over thirty languages.

Summary information on Yehuda Amichai is available in the standard print and online biographical resources.

Processing Information

The Yehuda Amichai Papers contain material formerly classed as Uncat MSS 70. Preliminary identification and sorting of Hebrew language materials in the collection was done by Chana Amichai in 2003 under the supervision of Nicole Bouché. Processing of the collection was completed in 2007 with assistance from Yale University Library staff and student assistants, including Daniel Hoffman, Brian McDonald, Heddy Ben-Atar, and Daniel Lovins.

Due to limitations with the technology (Edix) used by the library for describing manuscript collections, Hebrew names and titles have been romanized (transliterated). Special characters in the romanized Hebrew, including the ayin and aleph, have been ommitted temporarily pending changes to the software used by the library to deliver manuscript finding aids.

Guide to the Yehuda Amichai Papers
by Michael L. Forstrom
Description rules
Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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Access Information

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.