The literary papers of American writer Russell Banks span a forty-year career from
the early 1960s to 2001. The collection includes material for his novels and
collected short stories, from notes and drafts of works to publication material
reviews. Also present are shorter works, such as articles and essays, introductions,
plays, poems, reviews, and short stories. The papers contain extensive
correspondence, as well as articles about Banks, biographical information, diary
notes, contracts, published material, and works by others.
The papers are arranged in four series: I. Works; II. Correspondence; III. Other
Papers; and IV. Published Material.
Series I is comprised of book-length works, in Subseries A, while shorter works are
found in Subseries B. This material is arranged alphabetically by title. Banks's
published novels include Affliction, The Book of Jamaica, Cloudsplitter, Continental Drift, Family Life, Hamilton
Stark, The Relation of My Imprisonment ,
Rule of the Bone, and The
Sweet Hereafter. Also present are typescript drafts of Banks's
unpublished first novel, The Locus. Two of his novels were
subsequently adapted to the screen in 1997: Affliction, directed by Paul Schrader, and The Sweet
Hereafter, directed by Atom Egoyan. Short story collections include
The Angel on the Roof, The
New World, Searching for Survivors ,
Success Stories, and Trailerpark. Also present are text and photographs for The Invisible Stranger, a collaboration with
photographer Arturo Patten.
The shorter works in Subseries B include articles for magazines and newspapers, such
as The New York Times, Condé
Nast Traveler, The New Republic, Vanity Fair, and The
Atlantic. Article topics cover a wide range of people and places from the
Adirondacks, Edinburgh, Seychelles, and the Everglades to Eudora Welty, Billie
Holiday, Paul Strand, and Raymond Carver. Banks wrote introductions to works by
Nelson Algren, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Frank O'Connor, Michael Rumaker, and Mark
Plays, poems, research material for various projects, reviews, and short stories
also included in this subseries.
The correspondence in Series II is organized in three subseries: A. Chronological;
Individual Correspondents; and C. Career-Related. While Banks kept his correspondence
primarily in date order, frequent correspondents were identified separately
and housed apart from the chronological files, although there is some crossover
between the two. Letters from Bill Corbett, Clarence Major, William Matthews,
Carol Oates, Leon Rooke, Charles Simic, Jonathan Williams, and Arthur Yanoff are
particularly numerous. The career-related files found in Subseries C reflect Banks's
involvement with the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines, the Princeton
Writing Program, and the publications Lillabulero and
Ploughshares. Files relating to academic
appointments, publishing, requests for literary engagements, editorial and writing
projects, and readings are also found in this subseries.
The material in Series III Other Papers provides additional information about Banks
in the form of articles about him, an autobiographical piece for Contemporary Authors, and a diary written between
September 1978 and March 1984. Publishing contracts, interviews, and works by
Anderson, Ray Buck, and Brad Mirman are also present.
Numerous articles by and about Banks, excerpts from novels, interviews, reviews, and
stories published in literary and popular magazines are found in Series IV Published
Material. This material is arranged alphabetically by the title of the periodical,
and indexed by title in the Index to Published Material. In cases where both a
manuscript and published version exist for the same work, the published version
filed with the manuscript.
The material is in good condition, except for several items in the Hamilton Stark section that are mold-damaged.