Accession MS COLL 00399 - Leonard Cohen Papers

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Identity area

Reference code

CA OTUTF MS COLL 00399

Title

Leonard Cohen Papers

Date(s)

  • 1970-2003 (Creation)

Level of description

Accession

Extent and medium

11 boxes including OVS (3 metres)

Context area

Name of creator

(1934-2016)

Biographical history

Leonard Cohen (born 21 September 1934 in Montréal, QC; died 7 November 2016 in Los Angeles, California) was a Canadian singer, songwriter, poet, novelist and painter.
Born in 1934 in Westmount, Québec to an Orthodox Jewish family, Cohen was the second child of Masha Klinitsky-Klein and Nathan Bernard Cohen. Cohen demonstrated an interest in writing, particularly poetry, from an early age. At 15, under the influence of country and western music, he began to play guitar and for a short time he took flamenco guitar lessons. He attended McGill University and graduated with a degree in English literature in 1955. During his time at McGill, Cohen took a poetry course with Louis Dudek and a prose course with Hugh MacLennan. He was also introduced to poet Irving Layton, who became his friend and mentor. During this period he began writing poetry and was part of the local literary scene. Cohen gave his earliest poetry readings in a Montreal nightclub to jazz accompaniment and also performed in a country-western trio called the Buckskin Boys.
His first collection of poetry, Let Us Compare Mythologies, was published in 1956 as a part of the McGill Poetry Series. He would briefly attend both McGill Law School (1955-1956) and Columbia University School of General Studies (1956-1957) before deciding to write full-time. Cohen moved briefly to London with a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts and then relocated to the Greek Island of Hydra in 1960, where he would live for the next seven years. It was there that he published The Spice Box of Earth in 1961, which would launch his literary career. He would later publish another collection of poetry, Flowers For Hitler in 1964 and his first two novels: The Favorite Game (1963) and Beautiful Losers (1966). To date, each book has sold more than 800,000 copies worldwide. It was not until the late 1960s that he decided to move to Nashville and pursue a musical career, where he established himself as not only a poet but also a revered singer-songwriter. He continued to publish throughout his life, including Death of a Lady’s Man (1978), Book of Mercy
(1984), Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs (1993), and Book of Longing (2006). In his poetry, novels and music, he constantly probed the human condition, exploring themes of love, loss, and death. As a poetic and unlikely pop star, his reliance on simple melodies were complimented by the intense imagery and depth of his lyrics. As one of the most iconic Canadian artists of the 20th century, Leonard Cohen was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, the US Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Folk Music Walk of Fame. He also a number of awards for both his writing and his music, including: the Glenn Gould Prize for
lifetime achievement in the arts, the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature, the Prix DenisePelletier, eight Juno Awards, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award and numerous other
honours.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Gift of Leonard Cohen, 2003.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Death of a Lady’s Man: author’s proofs with some holograph revision; master proofs; first and revised proofs, illustrations; cover designs and layout, all June 1977; photos; The Language of Flowers —manuscript book presented to Suzanne Elrod by Leonard Cohen in 1970; awards, Leonard Cohen fan event, Montreal, May 2000; record from York University Radio; posters—one signed by Harry Rasky to Cohen, from Chagall film and other material.

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Accruals

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Material may be requested in person at the Fisher Library Reference Desk, or in advance using our online stack retrieval request form: https://fisher.library.utoronto.ca/stack-retrieval-request

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

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Name access points

Description identifier

CA OTUTF MS COLL00399

Institution identifier

Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto

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