Papers of William Styron (1930-2007, undated) documenting the life and literary career of the noted Newport News, Virginia-born American novelist and essayist, including correspondence; manuscripts, photographic prints, proofs of published materials, printed material, loose manuscript items transferred from the Stuart Wright Book Collection and oversized materials, by or about William Styron, Malcom Cowley, James Jones, Eugene Genovese, and others.
When World War II ended, Styron enrolled at Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina, graduating with a B.A. in English in 1947. He then took an editorial position with McGraw-Hill publishers, in New York, but hated the work and provoked the company into firing him. He then started his writing career, publishing his first novel, Lie Down in Darkness, in 1951. He later returned to the Marine Corps to serve during the Korean War but was discharged in 1952 for eye problems.
Styron is known principally as a novelist. The collection contains significant references to his major works, including:
• The Confessions of Nat Turner (1967), a fictional account of an 1831 Virginia slave revolt, narrated by the leader of the revolt; and
• Sophie's Choice (1979), a story "told through the eyes of a young Southern writer, about a Polish Catholic survivor of Auschwitz and her Jewish lover in postwar Brooklyn."
Styron died at Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, on 1 November 2006 at age 81.
Sources: "William Styron." [Briographical Sketch] Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Styron
Author: Jonathan Dembo, 11/3/2011, revised 1/23/2012, 9/17/2012, 11/1/2016.
In the fall of 1966, Wright enrolled at Wake Forest University as a pre-med, history, German and music student. Wright earned a B.A. in German and music in 1970. As a graduate student at Wake Forest University, Wright focused his studies on Southern history and literature, his ambition being to build an authoritative Southern Studies collection for the university. He received a master's degree in Southern Studies in 1973 and a second master's degree in U.S. History in 1980. Additionally Wright holds a professional degree from England in a medically related field. It was while studying there that he became interested in Thomas Wolfe, the noted North Carolina native and novelist.
Following his graduation from Wake Forest, Wright began to develop his collections more systematically, acquiring many first editions of Southern writers. In 1976 he began teaching at Reynolda House, a Wake Forest University affiliate dedicated to the arts and arts education. Wright taught classes in American music as well as human anatomy for art students. In 1978 Wright became Lecturer in Education at Wake Forest University. During his 10 years teaching at Wake Forest University, Wright authored numerous works of Civil War and North Carolina history, and dozens of articles, bibliographies, essays and reviews on Southern literature and the writers whose papers he collected. In addition, he developed a strong interest in the writings of the English poet Donald Davie and the Minnesota-born poet Richard Eberhart, whose works he also collected.
At the same time, Wright also began a career as a publisher by starting Palaemon Press in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. By 1984, Palaemon Press had produced 316 titles, consisting mainly of broadsides and limited editions, of the poetry and essays of such Southern writers as A. R. Ammons, Fred Chappell, James Dickey, William Goyen, George Garrett, and Eudora Welty. He also built comprehensive collections and compiled book-length descriptive bibliographies of A.R. Ammons, Andrew Lytle, Reynolds Price, James Dickey, William Goyen, Walker Percy, Randall Jarrell, Peter Taylor, George Garrett, Richard Eberhart, and Donald Davie. As well as serving as editor of the contemporary literature section of the Bulletin of Bibliography throughout the 1980s, Wright also contributed pioneering checklists of the writings of Southern poets Henry Taylor, Charles Wright, and Robert Morgan. For Meckler Publishing he served as series editor for a number of book-length bibliographies and checklists. In recognition of these accomplishments, when he was just 32, Wright was elected to membership in New York's prestigious Grolier Club.
All of these works are represented in the Stuart Wright Collection. In his dealings with these various authors Wright made consistent efforts to acquire personal papers, letters and documents, photographs, manuscripts, drafts, proofs, and published materials to supplement his continuing activities as a purchaser of their works. In this way, Wright acquired perhaps a majority of his overall collection. Over the years a number of biographers used Wright's collection to aid their research. For example, James A. Grimshaw, Jr. used the collection extensively for his Robert Penn Warren: A Descriptive Bibliography, 1922-1979 published by the University Press of Virginia, in 1981 and Craig S. Abbott did so as well for John Crowe Ransom: A Descriptive Bibliography, published by Whitston Publishing Company, Inc. in 1999. Joseph Blotner also used the Wright collection in researching Robert Penn Warren: A Biography, published by Random House in 1997.
Nevertheless, from the mid- to late 1980s, Wright began to look for a permanent home for his collection, which he felt had grown too large and yet had been too little used. Unable to find a repository willing to accept the entire collection under suitable conditions, he sold a number of individual author collections to Vanderbilt University, Duke University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Emory University. It was not until 2010 that he reached agreement to house the remaining, and largest part of his collection at East Carolina University. The Stuart Wright Collection in the East Carolina Manuscript Collection of J.Y. Joyner Library includes 22 sub-collections of the papers of Southern American writers. The related Stuart Wright Book Collection holds several thousand volumes by or about many of the same writers. Many of these volumes contain annotations, inscriptions, and insertions that reveal much about the authors in the collection and their relationships with one another. In 1998 Wright moved to England, and since 2001 he has resided in the medieval market town of Ludlow, in Shropshire.
Stuart Wright Collection: William Styron Papers (#1169-011) document the life and literary career of William Styron, 1930 – 2007, undated. The Styron Papers are arranged in original order in 6 series except as noted. The collection consists of an original acquisition of 4 series and the Cary Addition #1 and the Ludlow Addition #2. The collection includes proofs of the published works of other authors, including Eugene V. Genovese, James Jones and Lewis J. Blair which Styron reviewed for their publishers. It also contains a significant number of photographic prints and loose manuscripts transferred from the Stuart Wright Book Collection.
Series 1: Manuscript Materials and Photographic Prints consists of a news release, letters received and photographic prints relating to William Styron and his family, 1967, 1979. Series 1 is held in Box 1.a – 1.c
Series 2: Proofs and Printed Materials consists of printed books covers and brochures for William Styron's publications and proofs of books Styron reviewed for publication, including Roll Jordan Roll: The World the Slaves Made, by Eugene D. Genovese; Whistle, by James Jones; and A Southern Prophesy, by Lewis J. Blair, 1964-1979, undated. Series 2 is contained in Box 1.d - 1.i.
Series 3: Loose Manuscripts from Stuart Wright Book Collection consists of loose manuscript and other materials found between the leaves of volumes in the Stuart Wright Book Collection. The material consists of notes ca. 1970-1971, relating to William Styron. The loose manuscripts are linked to the book of origin by their Stuart Wright Book Collection Number (e.g. Stuart Wright Book Collection #38.4). Series 3 is held in Box 1.j – 1.k
Series 4: Oversized Materials consists of three oversized folders of clippings, a proof, and oversized photographs. Series 4 is held in Folder 1.k.os.1 – 1.m.os.1
Series 5: Cary Addition #1 to the Stuart Wright Collection contains photographic materials, proofs, manuscript materials, and a pamphlet signed by the novelist William Styron (1978). Also included are loose manuscript materials that were transferred from the Stuart Wright Book Collection, 1960-1980. Series 5 is held in Box 2.a - 2.g
Series 6: Ludlow Addition #2 to the Stuart Wright Collection contains correspondence, clippings, oversized materials, and loose manuscript items transferred from the Stuart Wright Book Collection, 1965-2007. Series 6 is held in Box 2.h - 2.v, os.4
Note to Researchers: Series 3: Loose Manuscripts Transferred from the Stuart Wright Book Collection consists of items found laid in works in the Stuart Wright Book Collection by, about, associated with, or owned by William Styron. They include notes and bookmarks inserted by Styron, Stuart Wright, and others; also notes, cards, correspondence, clippings, advertising, reviews, ephemera, etc. relating to his published works. The loose manuscripts are linked to the books from which they came by their Stuart Wright Book Collection Number (e.g. Stuart Wright Book Collection #40.15).
Purchased from Stuart Wright, 6/21/2010, 10/27/2011, 7/20/2012
Processing, Preliminary inventory & Container list by Jonathan Dembo, with the assistance of Nathaniel King, Stephanie Biggs & Shelby Sapp, & Jay Colin Menees, 10/26/2010, 10/24/20154/20/2016; revised by Jonathan Dembo, 11/19/2010, 7/7/2011, 2/15/2016, 11/1/2016, 9/7/2016; Final inventory by Krystal Cook, revised 2/27/2011; Finding aid by Jonathan Dembo, 11/3/2011, revised 1/23/2012, 11/1/2016; Encoded by Jonathan Dembo, 7/9/2012, 5/21/2013; Encoding revised by Jonathan Dembo, 7/18/2012, 11/1/2016; Stuart Wright biography revised by Jonathan Dembo, 9/17/2012, 11/1/2016
Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.
William Styron Papers, 1855-2007, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University Libraries, Durham, NC USA
Reid and Susan Overcash Literary Collection - A. R. Ammons Papers (#1096-001) Manuscripts and Rare Books Department, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC USA