This comprehensive collection of papers of the South African
writer Stephen Gray comprises four decades of literary endeavor from the 1960s
to 2000, including novels, plays, poetry, short stories, journalism, and
editorial work. Gray arranged his papers prior to shipment to the Ransom Center
and this order has been retained throughout, following his assigned headings.
Often related papers and correspondence were drawn together under a single
topic and were listed in detail. These descriptions are found in the first
folder of each grouping. The materials are organized in three series: Series
Works; Series II. Correspondence, 1960s-1990s; and Series III. Career-Related
The works are divided into subseries by genre, reflecting the
breadth of Gray's writing: Subseries A. Literary Notebooks; Subseries B.
Novels; Subseries C. Plays; Subseries D. Poetry; Subseries E. Short Stories;
Subseries F. Other Writings; and Subseries G. Collaborations and Projects.
The notebooks date from 1961-1994 and contain diary and
travelogue entries as well as literary notes and drafts, made in locations
as Cambridge, Athens, Greece, and Bellagio. The Novels subseries contains
typescript drafts and related material for
Accident of Birth,
Born of Man,
Time of Our Darkness,
War Child, and
Yves and Johnny.
Subseries C contains Gray's produced and unproduced plays,
"Borderlands," adapted from
Perceval Gibbon's novel;
"Cold Stone Jug," an
adaptation of Herman Bosman's novel;
"An Evening at the Vernes,"
"Helena's Hope, Ltd." based
on Stephen Black's play;
"Schreiner: A One-woman Play,
" based on the correspondence and writings of Olive Schreiner.
Gray's published and published poetry is contained in
Subseries D, in works such as
Appolo Café and Other Poems;
Gabriel's Exhibition: New Poems;
"Heritage Day and Other
Hottentot Venus and Other Poems;
Love Poems, Hate Poems;
Season of Violence;
Selected Poems (1960-92); and
reviews, and related material are present for these works. Additional poetry
found in Subseries G.
Subseries E contains Gray's short stories, from early works
in the 1960s to 2001, as well as individual stories published in collections.
Other writings include his journalism for
The London Magazine,
The Weekly Mail,
Mail & Guardian,
The South African Review of Books,
and other magazines and newspapers; his work as editor for the
Izwi and the collection
Picador Book of African Stories;
a contribution in
The Invisible Ghetto on Richard
Rive; and travelogues, especially
"Trek with Shakespeare," an
account of Gray's involvement touring Shakespeare, 1962-1964.
Gray's work with Cecil Skotnes predominates the
Collaborations and Projects subseries. Skotnes prints combine with Gray's
in works such as
The Assassination of Shaka and
The White Monday Disaster.
Series II. Correspondence includes both incoming and outgoing
letters between Gray and Guy Butler, Nadine Gordimer, Bessie Head, Christopher
Hope, Dan Jacobson, Wopko Jensma, Etienne Leroux, Douglas Livingstone, Alan
Paton, Tom Raworth, Richard Rive, and David Wright. Files also exist for
Contrast, literary agents and
publishers, and Quagga Press.
The career-related material in Series III includes articles
about Gray, interviews, speeches, and files from his college years, Chilean
residence in 1968, and University of Iowa Writer's Workshops, 1966-1969.
The collection is in good condition except for the lingering
odor of moth balls used during storage. Books and audio/visual tapes received
with the papers were transferred to departments within the Ransom Center.