Stuart Wright Collection: Mark Harris Papers, 1976

Manuscript Collection #1169-078

  • Descriptive Summary
     
    Title: Stuart Wright Collection: Mark Harris Papers
    Creator: Harris, Mark, (Mark Harris Finkelstein), 1922-2007
    Repository: ECU Manuscript Collection
    Language: English
    Abstract: Papers of Mark Harris [Finkelstein] (1976) documenting the life and literary career of the noted Mount Vernon, New York-born American journalist, novelist, and literary biographer who was also a creative writing educator at San Francisco State University, Arizona State University and several other universities; consisting of a bound, uncorrected, galley proof of his autobiography, entitled Best Father Ever Invented: The Autobiography of Mark Harris (1976).
    Extent: 0.25 Cubic feet, 0.25 Cubic feet, 1 archival box,
  • Description
     

    Stuart Wright Collection: Mark Harris Papers (#1169-078) are arranged in original order in a single series.

    Series 1: Cary Addition #1 to the Stuart Wright Collection, consist of papers (1976) documenting the life and literary career of Mark Harris [Finkelstein] (1922-2007), the noted Mount Vernon, New York-born American journalist, novelist, and literary biographer who was also a creative writing educator at San Francisco State University, Arizona State University and several other universities; consisting of a bound, uncorrected, galley proof of his autobiography, entitled Best Father Ever Invented: The Autobiography of Mark Harris (1976). Source: Cary Addition Box #098.033. Series 1 is held in Box 1.a.

  • Biographical / Historical Note
     

    Mark Harris was born Mark Harris Finkelstein, on 19 November 1922, in Mount Vernon, New York. In 1940 after he graduated from high school, Harris dropped his Jewish surname to avoid being discriminated against. In 1943, he was drafted into the United States Army to fight in World War II. He was honorably discharged in April 1944, after going AWOL [Absent Without Official Leave] from Camp Wheeler, Georgia. In his 1976 autobiography titled Best Father Ever Invented: The Autobiography of Mark Harris, Harris that he went AWOL due to his opposition to the war and his anger with the racial discrimination going on in the Army at that time. After returning from his military service, Harris worked as a journalist for several publications, 1943-1950, across the United States including Ebony, Albuquerque Journal, and Park Row News Service.

    Harris published his first novel, Trumpet to the World, in 1946, before he entered college. However, he is best known for his quartet of novels about baseball. His most famous of the quartet was Bang the Drum Slowly (1956), a story about a professional baseball player of limited skills and intelligence, who is suffering from a terminal disease, as seen from the viewpoint of the star of the team.

    In 1948, Harris enrolled at the University of Denver and earned an M.A. in English in 1951. He then went on to the University of Minnesota to earn his Ph.D. in American Studies in 1956. After leaving the University of Minnesota, Harris was hired to teach in the English department of San Francisco State College (1956-1967). Over the years he also taught at several other institutions including Purdue (1967-1970), University of Southern California (1973-1975), and the University of Pittsburgh (1976-1980). In 1980, Harris joined the Arizona State faculty and taught English and creative writing until his retirement in 2001.

    Harris maintained his writing throughout most of his working life. Besides novels, he produced works of literary criticism, a screenplay of Bang the Drum Slowly (1973), and articles for literary and popular journals. On 30 May 2007, at the age of 84, Mark Harris died due to complications of Alzheimer's disease. He was survived by his wife, Josephine Horen, two sons and one daughter.

    Sources:

    "Mark Harris (author)" [Biographical Sketch] Wikipedia. Accessed 21 November 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Harris_(author).

    "Mark Harris (author)" [Biographical Sketch] American Novelists Since World War II: First Series, by Steve Banow; edited by Jeffery Helterman and Richard Layman, Gale, 1978. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 2. Literature Resources Center, http://jw3mh2cm6n.search.serialssolutions.com/?sid=gale%3A&aufirst=Steve&aulast=Bannow&atitle=Mark+Harris&date=1978&genre=bookitem&isbn=978-0-8103-0914-2&publisher=Gale&title=American+Novelists+Since+World+War+II%3A+First+Series

    "The Mark Harris Papers, 1937 - 1982 (Mss 101)" 23 linear ft. University of Delaware Library, Newark, DE. http://www.lib.udel.edu/ud/spec/findaids/harris.htm

    "The Mark Harris Papers Supplement, 1958 -2002 (Mss 02-34, 02-15)". University of Delaware Library, Newark, DE. http://www.lib.udel.edu/ud/spec/findaids/harriss.htm

    Author: Jonathan Dembo, with the assistance of John Leche, 11/23/2016, 3/16/2017.

    Stuart Wright collected and compiled the Mark Harris Papers. He was born, Stuart Thurman Wright, on 30 March 1948, in Roxboro, North Carolina. He was the son of Frances Critcher Wright (1919-2010) and Wallace Lyndon Wright (1921-1965). An avid reader as a boy, Wright developed a strong interest in the American Civil War and with his father toured many of the war's battlefields searching for artifacts and studying the history of the era. At the age of 12, he won a statewide "Johnny Reb" essay contest and by the age of 15 had visited every major battlefield of the Civil War. Wright attended Roxboro High School, from which he graduated in 1966. It was during these years that he developed an interest in collecting historical books and manuscripts and began relationships with a number of local collectors and dealers.

    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 106 sub-collections of the papers of Southern American writers, illustrators, composers, and publishers. 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.

    Author: Jonathan Dembo, 11/2/2016

  • Administrative Information
     
    Accessions Information

    27 October 2011, (Cary Addition #1), 0.25 cubic feet; 1 archival box; 1 item; 146 p. Papers (1976) documenting the life and literary career of Mark Harris [Finkelstein] (1922-2007), the noted Mount Vernon, New York-born American journalist, novelist, and literary biographer who was also a creative writing educator at San Francisco State University, Arizona State University and several other universities; consisting of a bound, uncorrected, galley proof of his autobiography, entitled Best Father Ever Invented: The Autobiography of Mark Harris (1976). Source: Cary Addition Box #098.033. Vendor: Stuart Wright

    Acquisition Information

    Purchased from Stuart Wright, 10/27/2011

    Access Restrictions

    No restrictions

    Copyright Notice

    Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

    Preferred Citation

    Stuart Wright Collection: Mark Harris Papers (#1169-078), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.

    Processing Information

    Processing, Preliminary inventory & Container List, by Jonathan Dembo, with the assistance of Nathaniel King, 2/18/2016; Final inventory by Jonathan Dembo, 8/29/2016; Finding aid by Jonathan Dembo, 9/27/2016, 11/23/2016; Biographical Sketch, by Jonathan Dembo with the assistance of John Leche, 11/21/2016, rev. 2/17/2017; Encoding revised by Jonathan Dembo, 2/17/2017, 3/16/20917.

Container List

  • Cary Addition to the Stuart Wright Collection
     

    • Proofs
       

      • Box 1
         
        Best Father Ever Invented : The Autobiography of Mark Harris [Autobiography] by Mark Harris (New York, NY : Dial Press, © 1976) Uncorrected Galleys Proofs. Bound. Paper back. 1 item. 146 p. ; Note : Inscribed inside front cover : "David Madden Sent by Harris Jan. 1976" & "Passages marked [in blue marker] pertain to people I knew when I was a student at SFSU [San Francisco State University]" ; Cover torn ; needs conservation ; Source : Cary Addition Box #098.033

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Container List

  • Cary Addition to the Stuart Wright Collection
     

    • Proofs
       

      • Box 1
         
        Best Father Ever Invented : The Autobiography of Mark Harris [Autobiography] by Mark Harris (New York, NY : Dial Press, © 1976) Uncorrected Galleys Proofs. Bound. Paper back. 1 item. 146 p. ; Note : Inscribed inside front cover : "David Madden Sent by Harris Jan. 1976" & "Passages marked [in blue marker] pertain to people I knew when I was a student at SFSU [San Francisco State University]" ; Cover torn ; needs conservation ; Source : Cary Addition Box #098.033


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