The Brooke Hayward papers cover two major areas: Hayward's writing of the book, Haywire, and the personal and professional life of Hayward's mother, Margaret Sullavan. The Haywire material consists of correspondence, edited draft manuscripts, transcripts of taped interviews, and galley proofs. The audiotapes of the interviews have been transferred to the Rodgers & Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound. The Sullavan material includes correspondence, photographs, and clippings removed for preservation purposes from the scrapbooks that Sullavan herself meticulously created. Any identification that came with the photographs has been retained wherever possible. This scrapbook material has been divided into Sullavan's theatre work, motion picture work, and home and personal life.
Writer, actress, and model, Brooke Hayward was born on July 5, 1937. She is the oldest of three children born to stage and film actress, Margaret Sullavan and agent, Leland Hayward. Her sister, Bridget Hayward, was born in 1939. Her brother, William "Bill" Hayward, was born in 1942. During her childhood, there were several moves between California and Connecticut with the last, in 1948, to Greenwich, Connecticut, after Margaret Sullavan was divorced from Leland Hayward. Sullavan wanted her children to have a "normal" childhood and isolated them from the evils of Hollywood. The children lived in a separate house with a nurse (nanny) and a cook. A tutor taught Hayward and her siblings at home for the first few years of their life. When they were older, Brooke and Bridget attended Greenwich Academy, where Jane Fonda was a classmate. Bill Hayward and Peter Fonda attended Brunswick, around the corner from Greenwich Academy. In the fall of 1953, the Hayward children all left home to attend boarding schools. Hayward attended Madeira School in McLean, Virginia. Bridget went to school in Gstaad, Switzerland and Bill in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. After graduating in 1955, Hayward attended Vassar and Yale.
By the time Hayward was 22 years of age she had married Michael Thomas, an art historian and budding investment banker, whom she had met at Yale. They had two children, Jeffrey and Willie. After Hayward divorced Thomas, she and the children moved to New York City, where she began a modeling and acting career. In December 1959, Hayward was starring in an Off-Broadway production of Marching Song, when she learned of her mother's death of an accidental drug overdose on January 1, 1960. At this time, both Bridget and Bill were patients in mental asylums. In October 1960, Bridget Hayward died of a drug overdose. Leland Hayward died in 1971. Hayward was married to Dennis Hopper, 1961-1969; they had one child, a daughter, Marin. In December 1985, Hayward married society orchestra leader Peter Duchin.