This collection of works by Peter Matthiessen is the first
accession of his writings to be acquired by the HRHRC. The material described
here reflects Matthiessen's forty-year career as novelist, naturalist,
explorer, nature writer, and environmentalist. Many of his works are
represented, ranging from fiction and non-fiction to magazine articles, and
contributions to the works of others. The collection provides numerous
typescript drafts, galleys, page proofs, holograph notebooks, scrapbooks,
correspondence, articles, reviews, slides, and photographs. Thematically,
Matthiessen describes native peoples and their causes, vanishing cultures
habitats, and the influence of Zen Buddhism in his life and writings. The
collection is organized into three series: Works, Personal, and Writings of
Matthiessen's fiction and nonfiction manuscripts are arranged
by title under Subseries A of the first series, Works. Correspondence, research
material, and reviews are present for many titles, in addition to material
spanning the writing process from holograph notebooks to galleys. Subseries
comprises articles, essays, and other writings. Included are articles written
The New Yorker,
New York Times Magazine, as well
as Matthiessen's introduction to George Catlin's
North American Indians.
Matthiessen's interest in family history is found in his contribution to Evelyn
Children of Bladensfield and his
"Homegoing," tracing his
lineage to the island of Föhr. Travel slides for various trips are found at the
end of the collection, along with slides of selected dust jackets, magazine
covers, and title pages of shorter works.
The second series, Personal, includes autobiographical and
bibliographical sketches, biographical newspaper articles and interviews,
awards, honors, and miscellaneous material.
Two works of other individuals are present in the third
series: Larry Gross's screenplay of
"Killing Mister Watson" and a
humorous article by George Plimpton, Matthiessen's friend and
Paris Review colleague.
Numerous magazine issues containing articles written by and
about Matthiessen were received with this collection, along with the book
¡Baja! for which Matthiessen
wrote the introduction. His many articles appear over a thirty year period in
an eclectic array of titles from
Sports Illustrated and
Architectural Digest to
National Geographic. These
materials have been transferred to the HRC book collection. A small jigsaw
puzzle made from a photograph of the author walking in a Buddhist cemetery has
been transferred to the HRC personal effects collection.
With the exception of some deteriorating tape and glue, minor
water and mold damage, aging newspaper clippings, and what appears to be bullet
penetration in one manuscript, the collection is in good condition. Much of
original organization, imposed by the dealer, has been retained, along with
item descriptions which correspond to the dealer's collection list. Some of
larger holdings of draft typescripts such as those for
Killing Mister Watson, while kept
in the order as received, remain in rough order.
Additional material is expected.