restricted access The Collyer Brothers and the Fictional Lives of Hoarders

Since their deaths, Homer and Langley Collyer have become mainstays in conversations about hoarding, as well as characters in numerous pieces of modern fiction. This essay examines the literary tropes that shaped the mid-twentieth-century fascination with the brothers. It traces this genealogy through four successive fictionalizations of the Collyers’ lives by Marcia Davenport, Stephen King, Charles Johnson, and E. L. Doctorow. Ultimately, the Collyers occasion a unique opportunity to think about modern fiction’s role in the contemporary invention of the hoarder.