George Barr McCutcheon Collection

Identity elements

Reference code

US ILfC SC/068

Level of description



George Barr McCutcheon Collection


  • 1904-1929, 1959 (Creation)


Name of creator


Biographical history

George Barr McCutcheon, a novelist and playwright, was born in South Raub, near Lafayette, Indiana. He was the son of John Barr McCutcheon and Clara Glick. His brother, John T. McCutcheon, was an eminent Chicago newspaper cartoonist and Lake Forest resident.

McCutcheon began school at Purdue University in 1882 and soon started work as a part-time reporter for the “Lafayette Journal.” McCutcheon flunked out of school his sophomore year; however he remained at the Journal part-time and was hired on full time in 1889. He continued his career in journalism at the “Lafayette Daily Courier” as their city editor.

McCutcheon’s love of writing extended to works of fiction as well. Besides writing for the newspaper, he spent much of his free time writing in hopes of publishing novels and plays. He succeeded in doing so in 1901 with his book, “Graustark: The Story of a Love behind a Throne.” The book was the number one best seller of that year. McCutcheon went on to write five sequels to the novel over the years.

In 1902, McCutcheon left the “Lafayette Daily Courier” and moved to Chicago. Quickly following the success of the first “Graustark” novel, McCutcheon published “Brewster’s Millions” in 1902. McCutcheon continued to write, publishing over 40 novels, as well as several plays over the years, many which proved to be successful. Eight of his novels were on the bestseller lists from 1901-1914.

In 1904, McCutcheon married a widow, Marie Proudfoot Van Antwerp Fay, and together they moved from Chicago to New York in 1910. The couple had one child who died shortly after birth. However, McCutcheon adopted Marie’s son from a previous marriage.

McCutcheon was a member of a number of New York clubs, sold several of his novels’ plots to the movie industry and collected and sold art. McCutcheon died in New York City at the age of 62.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

This collection consists of one black leather three-ring binder labeled as a price book. It contains mostly business-related handwritten sheets of lists, arranged alphabetically under tabs. The lists record McCutcheon's financial transactions, annual income, as well as inventories of his assets, such as works of art.

The one folder in the collection contains three items, a bill for a firescreen, an accompanying pencil drawing of this item and also a list of fifteen rooms of furnishings of Jessie McCutcheon Nelson, George’s sister (2 carbon copies of the latter).

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