I was watching a video on YouTube where an elderly Gore Vidal made mention that he was working on a book about the Mexican-American war. In the video Gore Vidal was already in a wheelchair but he was still very witty. I suspect he passed away before completing the manuscript. Does anyone know if the manuscript ever survived or was completed by someone else?

Video: Gore Vidal in conversation with Melvyn Bragg (Intelligence Squared, 2008).


2 Answers 2


Gore Vidal died in 2012, but ten years earlier, he had selected Harvard University's Houghton Library as the place where his papers would be archived after his death. (See Gore Vidal’s Papers to Be Housed at Harvard’s Houghton Library, The Gore Vidal Pages, August 2012.)

However, this did not imply that the author's papers would soon become available as a searchable archive that may be accessed by scholars interested in publishing unfinished manuscripts (such as the possibly unfinished manuscript on the Mexican-American War). Eugenia Williams's article Paper Trail: An Abundant Gore Vidal Collection Gets Archived (Boston Magazine, 4 March 2014) explains why scholars and other interested readers need to be patient (emphasis added):

As Vidal’s gift wends its way through the legal system (his half-sister has challenged his will), some of his papers sit in boxes waiting to be cataloged in the basement office of Houghton curator Leslie Morris. (...)

When an archive arrives at the library, Morris and her colleagues roughly sort it into boxes. Hence the present disordered state of Gore Vidal’s papers, which came to Harvard in nearly 400 cartons.

If the manuscript is in one of those almost 400 cartons, access to it will only be possible after the legal issue has been resolved and those cartons have been catalogued. This may explain why Vidal's manuscript about the Mexican-American War has not been published yet (assuming that it is in a publishable or near-publishable state). (The Houghton Library didn't celebrate the bequest until November 2018.)

  • 1
    PS: I have contacted the Houghton Library to ask what they know about that manuscript. I will update my answer if or when I get a response.
    – Tsundoku
    Nov 1, 2020 at 17:19
  • Thank you. I look forward to hearing a response from you and the Houghton Library.
    – tale852150
    Nov 2, 2020 at 5:02

To the best of my knowledge Gore did not publish any such book. Should I discover differently (from his publishers) I will inform you later.

  • True, to the best of my knowledge Gore Vidal never published this book. I was wondering if someone either found his (incomplete) manuscript and maybe completed it or published excerpts from it.
    – tale852150
    Nov 1, 2020 at 16:20
  • Btw - thx, I’m wondering if anyone (even his publishers) knew Gore Vidal was working on such a book. There was another video I saw of him in which he said he had “...forgotten to cover that period [of the Mexican-American War] and “...he would have to look into it”.
    – tale852150
    Nov 1, 2020 at 16:28
  • His publisher would know as they maintained a close friendly relationship. The legal battles Tsundoku referred to are finished to the best of my knowledge. I know Houghton Library has much of GV’s letters catalogued already (including letters from my husband, his cousin) and listed on their website. Ms. Morris would be your best source for further knowledge, though. Nov 2, 2020 at 12:35
  • Great. Now, how does one get in touch with Ms. Morris?
    – tale852150
    Nov 2, 2020 at 12:37
  • She’s the one with Houghton Library. library.harvard.edu/staff/leslie-morris Nov 2, 2020 at 14:23

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