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George V. Higgins - Martin J. Kelly correspondence

Collection MS-2014-009: George V. Higgins - Martin J. Kelly correspondence


  • Creation: 1961-1969, 1989-1999

Scope and Contents

This collection consists mainly of letters from prolific crime novelist George V. Higgins to his friend, psychiatrist Martin J. Kelly. The two met as undergraduate students at Boston College and maintained a correspondence after their graduation in 1961. Higgins’ letters written in the decade post-graduation humorously lament his difficulties in dating and applying to graduate schools. He also discusses his travels around the country, his baseball skills, and the Red Sox. When the correspondence resumes twenty years later, Higgins’ more subdued letters remark on his health, his love of sailing and hatred for golf, and his writing, of which he includes excerpts for critique by Kelly. The collection also includes letters sent to Kelly by mutual friends after Higgins’ death in 1999, as well as copies of eulogies and obituaries. These praise Higgins’ illustrious writing career as well as his sincere character, deeming him the most devoted of friends.


Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research.

Restrictions on use

These materials are made available for use in research, teaching and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. The original authors may retain copyright to the materials.

Biographical note: George V. Higgins

George V. Higgins, a criminal lawyer turned crime novelist, was born on November 13, 1939 in Brockton, Massachusetts. He received his bachelor’s degree in English (1961) and his law degree (1967) at Boston College, and earned his master’s degree from Stanford (1962). Prior to becoming the Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts in 1970, he was a reporter for the Providence Journal, the Evening Bulletin, and the Associated Press, covering news stories related to crime and the Mafia. His first novel, The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1972), was a bestseller, and Higgins stopped practicing law in 1983 to focus on his literary career.

Higgins wrote and had published thirty books in his lifetime, twenty-six of them novels. His dialogue-heavy novels were set in the underground criminal world of Boston and took inspiration from his experience as a criminal attorney. Higgins stated that he preferred to let his stories be told through the language of his characters, a mechanism he believed allowed for the exploration of the working of the criminal mind. His critics labeled him a genre writer, a designation he rejected. He taught creative writing at Boston University from 1988-1999, and was a contributing writer to the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, the Times of London, the Washington Post, the Boston Herald American, the Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal, and the Atlantic Monthly.

Higgins married Elizabeth Mulkerin in 1965, and they had two children, Susan and John. After their divorce in 1979, he married Loretta Lucas Cubberley. He died in Milton, Massachusetts on November 6, 1999.


Kifner, John. "George V. Higgins, 59, Author Of Dialogue-Rich Crime Novels." New York Times, November 9, 1999.

"George V(incent) Higgins." In Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2002. Accessed June 4, 2014.

"George V(incent) Higgins." In Contemporary Novelists. Detroit: Gale, 1996. Biography in Context (GALE K1659000282). Accessed June 4, 2014.

Marling, William. "Higgins, George V.” In American National Biography Online. Oxford University Press, 2003. Accessed June 4, 2014.

MSS. 2003:4 Finding Aid, George V. Higgins Archive, University of South Carolina Libraries.

Biographical note: Martin J. Kelly

Martin J. Kelly is a Boston-area psychiatrist. He received his bachelor’s in biology from Boston College (1961) and his medical degree from Tufts Medical School (1965). As a freshman at Boston College, Kelly met George V. Higgins, and the two friends maintained a correspondence in the years following graduation.


0.25 Linear Feet (1 container)

Language of Materials



This collection consists mainly of correspondence from crime novelist and lawyer George V. Higgins to his friend Martin J. Kelly. The letters discuss a wide range of subjects, including schooling, romantic pursuits, and Higgins’ writing, and include some excerpts of Higgins’ work. The collection also contains third-party correspondence to Kelly regarding Higgins, eulogies, and obituaries of Higgins.


This collection is arranged in chronological order.


Gift of Martin J. Kelly, 2014.

Related Materials

MSS. 2003:4, George V. Higgins Archive, University of South Carolina Libraries.

George V. Higgins - Martin J. Kelly Correspondence
1961-1969, 1989-1999
Holly Salter and Sarah Nitenson
June 2014
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the John J. Burns Library Repository

John J. Burns Library
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill MA 02467 United States