New Collection Tied to Cormac McCarthy’s “Suttree” on Display
November 10, 2023
Cormac McCarthy

UT Libraries has acquired photos, letters, and postcards from the widow of Jim Long, the Knoxville man on whom writer Cormac McCarthy based one of the memorable characters of his novel Suttree.

The collection includes Long’s inscribed first edition of Suttree; a photo of Long and McCarthy as youngsters at St. Mary’s Parochial School; a photograph of them as adults on a beach in Maine; and postcards from McCarthy in France, Ireland, Argentina, and Spain.

The exhibit is on display in the Special Collections Reading Room, first floor of Hodges Library.

McCarthy, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, passed away on June 13, 2023, at age 89. Years before he became famous, McCarthy penned stories for the student literary magazine Phoenix while enrolled at the University of Tennessee.

In 1979, McCarthy published his semiautobiographical novel Suttree, based on his experiences in Knoxville during the 1950s. Among McCarthy’s closest childhood friends was Long. Jim, or J-Bone as he was perhaps best known to Suttreereaders, attended St. Mary’s Parochial School and Knoxville Catholic High School with McCarthy. Long introduced McCarthy to many of the characters and colorful places portrayed in Suttree.  They remained close friends up until Long’s passing in 2012. The John C. Hodges Society Board of Advisors helped to underwrite the cost to acquire the Suttree collection through contributions from Library Society Board Endowment.