Skip to content
print page header

The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Henry Gregor Felsen Papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1942-1970
Creator: Felsen, Henry Gregor (1916-1995)
Extent: 4.50 linear feet.
Collection Number: MSC0601
Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Summary: Novelist, story writer and author of children's books, including Hot Rod, a best-seller for 30 years. Correspondence and literary manuscripts.

Access: This collection is open for research.

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

Acquisition: These papers were given to the Libraries by Henry Felsen in installments from 1963 to 1970.

Preferred Citation: Henry Gregor Felsen 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

Henry Gregor Felsen was born in Brooklyn, New York, on August 16, 1916. He graduated from Erasmus Hall High School in 1933. He attended the University of Iowa for two years before dropping out because he could not afford the tuition. Felsen later returned to Iowa City and found work on the Iowa Writer's Project, doing articles for the Iowa Guidebook.
He married Penny Vincent, whom he met at the University. They struggled through the depression while he worked on and off for the WPA and tried to sell books. When his wife landed a job with Look Magazine, he became a full time writer. In 1940, with Darrell Huff (an editor at Look), Felsen started writing detective stories. He then became a staff writer for David C. Cook Publishing Co. Shortly after that, Felsen published his first book, Jungle Highway. He quit his job after only eight months to freelance in New York. In the next eighteen months, he wrote and sold nine books and hundreds of stories. A member of the Marine Corps during World War II, Felsen was stationed in the Pacific theater and wrote for the Leatherneck magazine. He returned to Iowa in 1946 and remained there most of his life. From 1964 -- 1969, Felsen taught part time at Drake University in Des Moines. He left Iowa in 1977 and spent his later years traveling. Henry Gregor Felsen died in 1995, at the age of 78. He is survived by his widow, Karen, two children, and two step-children.
A prolific and popular children's writer, Felsen wrote about sixty books. Some of his most popular were those in a car series, including: Hot Rod, Street Rod, and Crash Club. About eight million copies were sold in this series alone. Hot Rod was so popular that it remained on a bestseller list for children's books for nearly thirty years. Some of his other books became movies, while his stories appeared regularly in the Saturday Evening Post.

The papers of Henry Gregor Felsen consist of 4.5 linear feet of manuscripts and date from 1942 to 1970. Except for some folders of correspondence, the collection is made up entirely of his literary manuscripts which are arranged alphabetically by their titles. There are notes, outlines, and typescript drafts for many of his books and short stories, including his first novel, Jungle Highway.

Browse by Series:
Series 1: GENERAL
Series 3: WRITINGS

  • Series 1: GENERAL
  • Box 1:
  • Biographical information from The Junior Book of Authors - 1951
  • Clippings - 1950-1995
  • Box 1:
  • Dodd, Mead: October 6-April 3 - 1964-1970
  • Random House: January 24-July 31 - 1963-1969
  • Harriet Wolf: October 19 - 1948
  • Series 3: WRITINGS
  • Box 1:
  • Anyone for Cub Scouts? (Published 1954)
    Typescript and printer's copy.
  • Bertie Makes A Break (Published 1949) Author's notes - Typescript and carbon, incomplete
  • Related material to Bertie Makes a Break
    Including: letter May 14; "Allenby's Present Future," typescript and carbon; "Kind-Hearted Allenby," typescript and carbon; "Social Elephant Allenby," carbon; "Revolt Against Allenby," typescript; "Blame it on Allenby," typescript and carbon; "The Manly Art of Mirabeaux Hoberstone," carbon typescript; "That Troublemaker Allenby," typescript; and "Tee for Two," reprint.
  • Bertie Takes Care (Published 1948)
    Carbon typescript
  • Poodle's Progress, Early title of Bertie Comes Through (Published 1948)
  • Related material to Poodle's Progress
    Including: "Herbie Troddle Churns the Track," typescript and carbon; "Chapter One," typescript and carbon; "Herbie Troddle Gets Rattled," carbon typescript; "The Band Beats Herbie Troddle," carbon typescript; "Herbie Troddle Tries a Cheer," carbon typescript; "Open Wider," (2 copies); "Allenby Asks and Answers," reprint; and "Bertie Poddle Saves His Life," reprint.
  • Boy Gets Car (Published 1960)
    Carbon typescript (2 folders)
  • The Boy Who Discovered The Earth (Published 1955)
    Typescript and printer's copy; carbon typescript; and cover letter, March 5, 1956
  • Playmate From Space early title of The Boy who Discovered the Earth. Author's notes; correspondence, March 10-August 7 - 1954
    Typescript and incomplete carbon
  • Davey Logan, Intern (Published 1950)
    Incomplete typescript; carbon typescript; carbon typescript; letter, September 13, 1948; author's notes
  • The Dawn is Red
    Several typescript drafts of opening pages and author's notes
  • "How the Princess Almost Lost Her Head"
    Incomplete carbon typescript
  • "Iowa"
    Incomplete typescript and carbons, with author's notes
  • Jungle Highway (Published 1942)
    Printer's copy and typescript (with minor corrections)
  • Letters to A Son in Uniform
    Typescript drafts and revisions with author's notes
  • The Poor Man's Guide to Hypochondria
    Typescript and incomplete carbon with author's notes
  • Rag Top (Published 1954 as "Cup of Fury")
    Typescript; printer's copy; carbon typescript with corrections and revisions (3 folders)
  • Rag Top
    Carbon typescript; chapter one and outline; typescript and carbon of chapter one; author's notes; holograph pages; carbon typescript
  • Box 2:
  • Rag Top Typescript
    3 folders
  • Rag Top Carbon typescript
  • Roving Correspondent (early version of Flying Correspondent) (Published 1947) Typescript
  • Roving Correpondent Carbon typescript
  • Some Follow the Sea (Published 1944)
    Carbon typescript; carbon typescripts of two versions of chapter 10. (2 folders)
  • Stock Car Racer (early title of Fever Heat) (Published 1953)
    Correspondence, October 15-November 12; outline; author's notes; incomplete carbon typescript
  • A Teen-Ager's First Car - 1966
    Letter, January 14; Typescript and carbon; drafts and revisions; holograph revisions and notes
  • 3 + 3
    Typescript and holograph drafts; revisions and notes
  • To My Son The Teen-Age Driver (Published 1964)
    Photocopy of typescript; typescript and carbon with corrections and revisions. (2 folders)
  • Postcard for a new edition of Hot Rod. August - 2010
    Gift of Holly Felsen Welch
  • Printout of a crowdfunding request for making a movie of Felsen's short story Gentle Rain
    Gift of Holly Felsen Welch