The HFJ Library is home to several special collections including the Kael Collection. The collection consists of the working library of Pauline Kael, longtime film critic for the New Yorker. The books range from biographies of Hollywood stars to seminal works of film theory. Hampshire acquired the library from Kael’s daughter, who lived nearby, and received some manuscript materials along with the books.
Included among the correspondence is a letter sent to Kael by the documentarian Les Blank around the time that his award-winning film, Burden of Dreams, was released. The film depicts the grueling production of Werner Herzog’s film, Fitzcarraldo, which required the crew to haul an actual steamboat over a mountain. In his letter Blank credits Kael with inspiring his career switch into documentary filmmaking and essentially saving his life during a difficult personal episode.
If you’d like to visit the Kael Collection and perhaps check out a script or book, you can find the circulating portion of the collection on the second floor of the Library.