Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Paul Scott:

An Inventory of His Collection at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Creator Scott, Paul, 1920-1978
Title Paul Scott Collection
Dates: 1952-1976
Extent 38 boxes (15.8 linear feet), 10 galley folders
Abstract The collection consists primarily of manuscripts, with a small amount of correspondence. The holographs, original and carbon copy typescripts, notes, galleys, and page proofs reflect ten of the English writer and literary agent's major novels, including The Raj Quartet: The Jewel in the Crown (1966), The Day of the Scorpion (1968), The Towers of Silence (1971), and A Division of the Spoils (1975).
RLIN record # TXRC98-A8
Language English.
Access

Open for research




Acquisition

Purchases and gifts, 1963-1990 (R1619, R4815, R6600, R7293, G7011, G8568)

Processed by

Sally M. Nichols, 1998

Repository:

Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin


On March 25, 1920, Paul Scott was born in Palmers Green, England (north London), the second son of Tom and Frances Scott. Tom Scott was a self-employed commercial artist who, together with his two sisters, designed advertisements for the latest fashions. He came from a family of painters and designers while his wife, Frances, was from a more humble background. The family lived on the fringes of middle class respectability and constantly struggled to maintain their position during this period of rigid social mores. Paul maintained high grades while in school but at the age of sixteen had to quit Winchmore Hill Collegiate School in London in order to help the family financially. This was to affect Paul's self-esteem and presented obstacles to his continuing sense of himself as a poet. His father suggested he work as an accountant and he thus apprenticed himself to an accounting firm. He studied in the evenings, completed exams, and rose to more responsibility and more complex duties. The dreamy, creative side could not be ignored, however, and he continued to write poems, read the works of other poets, and developed friendships with other aspiring poets.

In 1940 Scott was drafted to serve in the British Army. In 1941 his poem, "I Gerontius," had been included in the Resuram Series of poetry pamphlets. While stationed in Torquay, he met Penny Avery, a nurse, at one of the company dances; after a short time they fell in love and were married on October 23, 1941. In February 1943 Scott received orders that he was to be stationed in India, and in March sailed from Liverpool. By the time he arrived it was the beginning of the end for the British Raj in India. He was as surprised at the superior attitude he observed in the British toward their Indian subjects, as he was of the hostile and resentful attitude of the Indian population toward the British, issues Scott was to explore in depth in his later novels. Shortly after his arrival he came down with dysentery which was not diagnosed as amoebiasis until 1964, when it was successfully treated in Paris. The disease had a pronounced effect on Scott during the twenty years in which the parasite remained in his body; it accounted for his mood swings, his irritability, lassitude, and feelings of alienation, and had a marked effect on the style of his writing.

After serving with the British Army in India and Malaya as an air supply officer, Scott returned to London. He had continued to write poetry while in the Army, and though he thought of himself as a poet first, he began to write plays and experienced success with "Pillars of Salt" which won a prize in a Jewish playwriting competition. It, and the three other winners, were published in 1948 as "Four Jewish Plays." Job prospects all over London were bleak at the time of his return but Scott used his training in accounting to secure a position as secretary for the Falcon Press and Grey Walls Press. He left this position in 1950 to become a director and literary agent for Pearn, Pollinger and Higham (later David Higham Associates) where he successfully represented writers such as John Braine, Gerald Hanley, Morris West, M.M. Kaye, Roland Gant, and Chris Almedingen. During those years of encouraging other writers to do their best, he wrote five novels himself but felt torn by the demands of his job and his desire to devote more time to his own writing, and thus resigned in 1960 to work at his craft full time.

Scott's first novel, Johnnie Sahib, was rejected seventeen times before being published in 1952, and went on to win the Eyre & Spottiswoode Literary Fellowship Prize. This was followed by Alien Sky, published in 1953. India had penetrated Scott's heart deeply; most of his novels are set in India, or use India as a backdrop, as in A Male Child (1956), "The Mark of the Warrior" (1958), and The Chinese Love Pavilion (1960). Two radio scripts were produced at this time: Sahibs & Memsahibs was broadcast in the summer of 1958, and The Mark of the Warrior in 1960. The Alien Sky aired on B.B.C. television in London in 1956.

The Birds of Paradise (1962) continued Scott's preoccupation with India, whereas The Bender (1963) is set solely in London and explores the importance of work in defining one's role in life and in society. The Corrida at San Felíu (1964) uses fragments of the life story of a novelist, Edward Thornhill, to piece together the artist's world of the creative imagination in which illusion and fact often vie with each other.

Scott returned to India in 1964 and from that visit came the raw material he needed to write his next five novels, all of which centered on the end of British rule in India. The first four novels, The Jewel in the Crown (1966), The Day of the Scorpion (1968), The Towers of Silence (1971), and A Division of the Spoils (1975) comprise "The Raj Quartet." The fifth and final novel, Staying On (1977), which is a coda to the Raj Quartet, centers on the lives of the British who elected to remain in India after independence. Scott won the Yorkshire Post book of the year award for finest fiction in 1971 for The Towers of Silence, and the Booker Prize in 1977 for Staying On. Scott taught writing and modern literature at the University of Tulsa in the fall terms of 1976 and 1977. Paul Scott died from cancer on March 1, 1978 in London.


Contemporary Authors, v. 33 (Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research Co., 1991).

Dictionary of Literary Biography, v. 14 (Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research Co., 1983).

Spurling, Hilary Paul Scott: A Life of the Author of The Raj Quartet (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1990).


The Paul Scott Collection consists primarily of manuscripts, with a slight amount of correspondence, ranging in date from 1952 to 1976. The material is arranged in three series: I. Works, 1953-1975 (37 boxes), II. Correspondence, 1952-1976 (two folders), and III. Miscellaneous, 1960-1968 (two folders). Within each series the material is arranged alphabetically by title or author. This collection was previously accessible only through a card catalog, but has been re-cataloged as part of a retrospective conversion project.

The Works series consists of holographs, original and carbon copy typescripts, notes, galleys, page proofs, proof copies, or printer's copies for ten of his major novels: A Male Child (1956), The Mark of the Warrior (1958), The Chinese Love Pavilion (1960), The Birds of Paradise (1962), The Bender (1963), The Corrida at San Felíu (1964), and the four novels that comprise The Raj Quartet: The Jewel in the Crown (1966), The Day of the Scorpion (1968), The Towers of Silence (1971), and A Division of the Spoils (1975). Also in the collection is a mimeo/radio script entitled "Sahibs and Memsahibs."

The correspondence section is very slim. Outgoing correspondence contains a letter to Maurice Temple Smith of Eyre & Spottiswoode Ltd., a letter to John Willey of William Morrow & Co., not sent, and a note and course outline to Thomas Staley of The University of Tulsa. Incoming correspondence contains letters from literary notables such as Veronica Bamfield, John Braine, Richard Church, James Hanley, Pamela Hansford Johnson, Sir Compton Mackenzie, Mary E. Patchett, Alexander Peterson, Sir Herbert Read, Dame Edith Sitwell, C.P. Snow, Muriel Spark, Howard Spring; and from the publishers Eyre & Spottiswoode Ltd. and William Morrow and Co.

The Miscellaneous series contains publicity material for The Birds of Paradise from the publishers Eyre & Spottiswoode Ltd., a mimeo/radio script by Donald McWhinnie of Scott's The Mark of the Warrior, and front matter for the galley proofs of The Day of the Scorpion published by William Morrow and Co.


Other materials associated with Scott may be found in the following collections at the Ransom Center:

  • David Higham Associates, Ltd.
  • Photography Collection Literary File.


Elsewhere in the Center are four Vertical File folders and two Scrapbooks that contain biographical information, research material for Scott's books, and reviews.


Corrrespondents

Bamfield, Veronica, 1908- .

Braine, John.

Church, Richard, 1893- .

Hanley, James, 1901-. .

Johnson, Pamela Hansford, 1912- .

Mackenzie, Compton, Sir, 1883-1972.

Patchett, Mary E. (Mary Elwyn), 1897- .

Peterson, A.D.C. (Alexander Duncan Campbell), 1908- .

Read, Herbert Edward, Sir, 1893-1968.

Sitwell, Edith, Dame, 1887-1964.

Snow, C.P. (Charles Percy), 1905- .

Spark, Muriel.

Spring, Howard, 1889-1965.

Subjects

Thornhill, Edward, 1902-1962.

David Higham Associates Ltd.

Authors, English--20th century.

India in literature.

Novelists, English--20th century.

Document types

Christmas cards.

Galley proofs.

Postcards.

Printers' proofs.

Radio scripts.

Titles

Times (London, England).