Guide to the David Morrell Papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1974-1999
Creator: Morrell, David (1943-)
Extent: 21.00 linear feet.
Collection Number: MSC0478
Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Summary: Born in Ontario 1943, awarded a PhD in American literature by Pennsylvania State University in 1970, taught at Iowa from 1970 to 1986, retired to write. Perhaps best known for Rambo, the central character of his 1972 novel First Blood, which lead to the Rambo films starring Sylvester Stallone, Morrell has written numerous novels as well as screen- and teleplays. The growing collection of his papers includes video and audio tapes as well as research notes, correspondence, and manuscripts.

Administrative Information

Alternate Extent Statement: Photographs: Boxes 3, 12; Film/Video: Boxes 2, 5, 6, 17; Audio Material: Boxes 4, 16, 18

Access: This collection is open for research.

Use: Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Acquisition: The papers of David Morrell are on deposit at the University of Iowa, placed by Mr. Morrell over a period of years beginning in 1988. The collection of David Morrell papers is still growing with his periodic deposits.

Preferred Citation: David Morrell Papers, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.

Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Address: Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5921
Curator: Greg Prickman

Biographical Note

David Morrell was born in Kitchener, Ontario, on April 24, 1943. He earned a B.A. in English from St. Jerome's College at the University of Waterloo in Ontario in 1966. The following year he received his M.A. from Pennsylvania State University. He was awarded his Ph.D. from Penn State in 1970, with a degree in American literature. Morrell taught American literature in the English department of the University of Iowa from 1970 to 1986. A full professor since 1977, David Morrell retired from teaching in 1986 to pursue a full-time career as a fiction writer. He published his first novel, First Blood, in 1972. He is best known for his fast-paced action adventures which introduced the character Rambo. Many of his novels have been adapted for film and television. In 1987, Morrell wrote Fireflies, an account of his 15-year-old son Matthew's death from cancer. In 1992, after 22 years in Iowa City, the Morrells moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he continues to write and publish.

Content Description

They consist of approximately seven linear feet of papers dating from 1974 to 1999. The papers are arranged alphabetically by folder title within each subsequent year's addition. Included are typescript drafts of some of his novels, including The Fifth Profession, Blood Oath, and Fireflies. There are also drafts of scripts and teleplays written by Morrell and others, including various Rambo scripts written by the actor Sylvester Stallone. Video tapes, audio tapes, research notes, book reviews, and interviews make up the rest of the collection.

Related Materials

David Morrell's web site:

Detailed Description of the Collection

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This collection is indexed under the following subject terms.

American fiction
American literature
Authors, American

Genre/Form of Materials:
Drafts (Documents)
Motion pictures
Video recordings

First Blood (Motion picture)
Rambo III (Motion picture)

Film & Television Writing and Directing
English & American Literature
Writers Archive at Iowa
Dramatists, Playwrights, & Scriptwriters for Television & Screen
Study of Theatre Arts and Popular Culture