Manuscripts and Correspondence

Literary correspondence often illuminates the world surrounding the writer and reveals how that world impinges upon the writer’s work. Such significance is clearly evident in the letters that came with the Cyril Connolly library, which includes correspondence with Logan Pearsall Smith, Enid Bagnold, T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster, Edith and Osbert Sitwell, Nancy Mitford, John Lehmann, Sonia Orwell, Anthony Hobson, and Christopher Isherwood, among others. The total collection includes some 5,500 pieces of correspondence addressed to Cyril Connolly. In addition, autograph manuscripts, typescripts, and proofs comprise some 5,800 pages, including numerous manuscript reviews Connolly wrote on significant works of modern literature.

Connolly Collection

Apart from the Connolly materials, other fascinating letters are those received by Nino Frank while he was editor of the journal Bifur; which was published in Paris during the 1920s. These letters were addressed to Frank by such writers as Sherwood Anderson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Waldo Frank, W. K. Magee, Ernest Hemingway, Eugene O’Neill, William Carlos Williams, and Thornton Wilder. Still other letter writers represented in the Department of Special Collections and University Archives range from Louisa May Alcott to J. Frank Dobie. Other substantial letters are those written by Flannery O’Connor to Cecil Dawkins. Some of these were recently published in The Habit of Being; however, a comparison of the original letters with the published texts reveals frequent omissions.

Manuscripts form another significant element of research potential within McFarlin Library. Within a body of such material, one can find the typescript draft of Margaret Drabble’s The Waterfall (the typescript title is “A Moving Accident”). It contains numerous corrections in both ink and pencil and subsequent draft-pages that were not included in the final typescript. Also present are John Updike’s typescript of Couples dated 20 July 1967 and corrected in ink; nine notebooks of the beat poet Gregory Corso written in Paris from 23 September 1975 to 17 December 1976; an extensive collection of the manuscripts of William Trevor; and manuscripts of Christopher Isherwood. (Of special interest is the notebook of Isherwood kept in Germany from which he wrote parts of Goodbye To Berlin) Another important group of manuscripts are those of David Gascoyne. Contained in these holdings are notebooks and drafts of various items including poems, plays, prose, and letters. Complementing the Gascoyne materials are manuscripts by Gascoyne’s close friend Derek Stanford. Stanford wrote numerous articles on Gascoyne, and included in the group of his manuscripts is the 212-page manuscript of The Pumpkin Tree: An Autobiography. This work is unpublished and contains a large amount of information pertinent to Gascoyne.

Additionally, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives has brought together manuscript materials by Anna Kavan, whose works are currently undergoing a revival of interest here and abroad. The Kavan materials incorporate journals, notebooks, letters, and original paintings. Moreover, these holdings represent the only known Kavan manuscript materials available to the scholarly community. Of special note is Kavan’s copy of her science fiction novel Ice. This copy has been revised by the author, restoring “unauthorized” cuts and changes made by the publisher. Also present is a copy of A Charmed Circle in dust jacket, her rare first book published under the name of Helen Ferguson.

The Department of Special Collections and University Archives also acquired a large block of manuscript material by the late Paul Scott. Included in this collection are notebooks, personal correspondence — both copies of letters sent and letters received — and manuscripts for numerous short stories and plays. Of particular note is the manuscript for Scott’s novel Staying On, which received the Booker Prize in 1977 while Scott was a visiting professor on the Graduate Faculty of Modern Letters at The University of Tulsa.

Also with University of Tulsa connections is David Plante, who taught creative writing for three years at TU. The Department of Special Collections and University Archives is now the permanent repository of Plante’s manuscripts from early works up through more recent ones, from The Ghost of Henry James to The Family.

The Edward Charles collection is a comprehensive one of autograph manuscripts and typescripts together with correspondence and other material from his personal archive. Of primary importance in this collection are various folders relating to the banning of his 1935 study The Sexual Impulse. These materials include the autograph manuscript, a corrected proof copy, a first edition extensively revised in an effort to produce an inoffensive new edition, and correspondence concerning the suppression of the book and Charles’s trial. Also included in the Charles papers are drafts for other complete works both published and unpublished.

The UnMuzzled Ox archive, an unprocessed collection relating to the little magazine’s operation, represents a different focus for manuscript materials in McFarlin Library. The files include not only the issues themselves, but also the correspondence concerning its publication. The UnMuzzled Ox is noted for its strong commitment to contemporary poetry, and it has published many Tulsa poets such as Joe Brainard and Ted Berrigan. The magazine also publishes interviews, and the archive includes a typescript of a conversation with Robert Duncan (of which only a portion was published).

From A Guide to Literary and Related Materials

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