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Terence Sellers Papers

Call Number



1966-2016, inclusive


Sellers, Terence


49 Linear Feet in 11 boxes from original donation; 29 record cartons, 4 manuscript boxes, 2 flat boxes, 7 oversize flat boxes, 3 box binders, 2 oversize folders.
1 websites 1 archived website.

Language of Materials

Materials are primarily in English, with some materials in French.


The Terence Sellers Papers include materials that relate to the art and literary scene in New York City in the 1970s and 1980s. The collection includes Sellers' writing, journals, photographs, and materials relating to her career as a professional writer.

Biographical Note

Terence Sellers (1952-2016) was born to Robert and Gloria Sellers in Washington DC. From 1970-1973 she attended St. John's College in Santa Fe, New Mexico in the Classical Studies department but did not complete her degree. She earned a BA in forensic psychology at John Jay College in New York City in 1986.

In 1973 Sellers moved to New York City intending to pursue a career in writing and dance. Shortly after moving to New York she formed friendships with artists and writers including Anya Phillips, Kathy Acker, Duncan Smith, Victor Bockris, Carl Apfelschnitt, Jimmy De Sana and Duncan Hannah, many of which resulted in collaborations. For example, Sellers and Hannah worked on several projects together, including Amos Poe's 1978 film The Foreigner. Around the same time Sellers worked with photographer Jimmy De Sana on a series of 32 photographs entitled "The Dungeon Series". The original intent of the project was to use the photographs in Sellers' then unpublished work The Correct Sadist. However, after the work was complete De Sana and William S. Burroughs used the photographs to illustrate their own book project, Submission.

As a prolific writer, Sellers kept daily journals, maintained close correspondence with friends, family and colleagues, wrote a large volume of short stories and worked on several manuscripts. She was an early contributor to BOMB Magazine, X Magazine, Vacation and other publications devoted to New York's Downtown art, music, film and literary scene.

Most of Sellers' writing is on the subject of sadomasochism. While her work as a professional dominatrix and her fascination with violence, self-punishment, the occult, and psychoanalysis has given shape to much of her writing, her literary influences include Baudelaire, Dostoevsky, and the French surrealists.

Sellers' most famous work is a novel called the The Correct Sadist: The Memoirs of Angel Stern. It is written as a collection of short "case studies" relating to themes of sexual dominance and submission, bondage and discipline, and fetishism. Originally published by iKoo-Buchverlg in Berlin in 1981 as Der korrekte Sadismus, Sellers self-published the work in English under Vitriol Publications in 1983. In 1985, Grove Press contracted the novel and Barney Rosset handled its publication. It is also published in France, Italy, and the United Kingdom.

Sellers' other published novels include The Obsession, and Dungeon Evidence: The Correct Sadist II. Excerpts from other manuscripts such as The Degenerate, Most Ill of All and One Decadent Life have appeared in a wide range of publications in several languages. Sellers participated in events such as The Times Square Show (1980) and has read her work throughout the US, Europe and Canada. Although Sellers did not achieve the name recognition and literary success of some of her contemporaries, she is an important and influential member of the Downtown scene.


The Terence Sellers papers are organized into nine series:

Series I: Correspondence
Series II: Journals
Series III: Subject Files
Series IV: Writing
Series V: Photographic Materials
Series VI: Business
Series VII: Academic and Biographical Materials
Series VIII: Media
Series IX: Computer Disks

Series I: Correspondence and Series II: Journals have been arranged chronologically. Series III: Subject Files, Series IV: Writing, Series VI: Business and Series VII: Academic and Biographical Materials have been arranged alphabetically. Series V: Photographic Materials has been arranged alphabetically by photographer. Series VIII has been retained in the order in which they were found.

Although they are physically separate, oversize materials are assigned folder numbers that reflect their place in the overall organization of the series. This is to indicate where they fall in the alphabetical or chronological order.

Scope and Content Note

The Terence Sellers Papers contain materials that relate to the literary career of Terence Sellers from the 1970's through the 1990's. Materials include journals, personal and professional correspondence, photographs, original artwork used in published works, manuscript materials, audio cassette recordings, and publicity materials relating to her published projects.

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open to researchers. Please contact the Fales Library and Special Collections,, 212-998-2596.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright (or related rights to publicity and privacy) for materials in this collection was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder. Please contact the Fales Library and Special Collections,, 212-998-2596.

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Terence Sellers Papers; MSS 167; [box number]; [folder number], Fales Library and Special Collections, New York University Libraries.

To cite the archived website in this collection: Identification of item, date; Terence Sellers Papers; MSS 167; Wayback URL; Fales Library and Special Collections, New York University.

Location of Materials

Some materials are stored offsite, and advance notice is required for use. Please request materials at least two business days prior to your research visit to coordinate access.


The Terence Sellers papers were purchased by the Fales Libary and Special Collections from Terence Sellers in 2005. In 2016 the estate of Terence Sellers donated two additions to the collection that comprise Series X. The accession numbers associated with these gifts are 2016.011 and 2016.025. was selected by curators and captured through the use of Archive-It. Archive-It uses web crawling technology to capture websites at a scheduled time and displays only an archived copy, from the resulting WARC file, of the website.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Access copies for some materials are available by appointment for reading room viewing and listening only. Please contact, 212-998-2596.

Take Down Policy

Archived websites are made accessible for purposes of education and research. NYU Libraries have given attribution to rights holders when possible; however, due to the nature of archival collections, we are not always able to identify this information.

If you hold the rights to materials in our archived websites that are unattributed, please let us know so that we may maintain accurate information about these materials.

If you are a rights holder and are concerned that you have found material on this website for which you have not granted permission (or is not covered by a copyright exception under US copyright laws), you may request the removal of the material from our site by submitting a notice, with the elements described below, to the

Please include the following in your notice: Identification of the material that you believe to be infringing and information sufficient to permit us to locate the material; your contact information, such as an address, telephone number, and email address; a statement that you are the owner, or authorized to act on behalf of the owner, of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed and that you have a good-faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law; a statement that the information in the notification is accurate and made under penalty of perjury; and your physical or electronic signature. Upon receiving a notice that includes the details listed above, we will remove the allegedly infringing material from public view while we assess the issues identified in your notice.

Related Material at Fales Library and Special Collections

Amos Poe Papers (MSS.203)

Jimmy De Sana Papers (MSS.202)

Collection processed by

Jenny Pachucki, 2007. Finding aid completed by Luke Martin and Christine Woody, 2009.

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-09-11 09:43:20 -0400.
Using Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language: Description is in English.

Processing Information

Processing information before 2018 is unavailable. In August 2018, accessions 2013.167 and 2015.167 were integrated into Series I, Series II, Series IV, and Series VI. In 2022 the website was added to Series VII.

Revisions to this Guide

August 2018: Updated by Jackie Rider to reflect integration of Accessions 2013.167 and 2015.167
October 2022: Edited by Nicole Greenhouse to reflect integration of archived website
September 2023: Edited by Anna Björnsson McCormick to correct folder locations


Fales Library and Special Collections
Fales Library and Special Collections
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012