Joseph Mitchell

Joe Gould's Secret
  • Joe Gould's Secret

  • ‘It's a masterpiece, of course, but more than that it shows that there is some such thing as being a simple observer’ Nicci French, Independent

    It was 1932 when Joseph Mitchell first came across Joe Gould, a Harvard-educated vagrant of Greenwich Village. Penniless, filthy, scurrilous, charming, thieving, Joe Gould was widely considered a genius. He was working on a book he called an Oral History – the longest book ever written he claimed, formed of recorded conversations set down in exercise books. Of course, when Gould died the great epic was nowhere to be found.

    This compelling portrait of a true New York eccentric, a man who embodied the disconnected, delusional nature of real life, was Mitchell’s personal enquiry into the agony of writer’s block.

    Joe Gould's Secret can be found in the longer collection of Mitchell's writing Up in the Old Hotel.

RELEASED 03/10/2019

Joseph Mitchell was born near Iona, North Carolina, in 1908, and came to New York City in 1929, when he was twenty-one years old. He eventually found a job as an apprentice crime reporter for The World. He also worked as a reporter and features writer at The Herald Tribune and The World-Telegram before landing at The New Yorker in 1938. "Joe Gould's Secret," which appeared on September 26th 1964, was the last piece Mitchell ever published. He went into work at The New Yorker almost every day for the next thirty-one years and six months but submitted no further writing.