The materials in the Barry Unsworth Papers consist of items related to fifteen of
sixteen novels written by the author through 2006, including handwritten drafts,
notebooks, typescripts with handwritten corrections, and correspondence. Also
present are articles, essays, book introductions, book reviews, short stories,
travel pieces authored by Unsworth, as well as personal correspondence, fan mail,
and interviews. The collection is organized into two series: I. Works, 1965-2006
II. Correspondence, 1974-2007.
The majority of Series I. is made up of handwritten drafts of Unsworth’s novels,
arranged chronologically. The earliest works are written on loose sheets and the
later, beginning with Sugar and Rum (1988), are
written into notebooks. Only one novel, The Greeks Have a
Word for It (1967), is not represented by any materials in the archive.
Additional notebooks contain notes, research, and journal entries related to novels
Unsworth published in the 1980s and later, as well as notebooks from as early
1965 with mainly general content not necessarily relating to any of his works.
many of these notebooks is a wide range of research that is reflected in the
expansive themes of Unsworth’s historical novels, covering places, topics, and
periods as varied as fourteenth-century England, Renaissance Venice, the
eighteenth-century Atlantic slave trade, Constantinople at the turn of the twentieth
century, and twentieth-century London. Typescripts with handwritten corrections
included with the materials beginning with After
Hannibal (1996), and three folders contain articles, essays, short stories,
travel pieces, and book reviews and introductions. Interviews given by Unsworth
between 1987 and 1999 for magazines, journals, and one website fill the final
of this series.
Series II. contains three folders of professional correspondence to and from
Unsworth’s publishers and agents, much of it typed, with some handwritten letters
and a large number of printed emails and faxes. Perhaps as much as half of the
correspondence is from Giles Gordon, Unsworth's longtime literary agent, while
remainder consists of letters to and from editors at the publishing house of Hamish
Hamilton, which was later acquired by Penguin. Three additional folders contain
correspondence with friends and fans, for the most part related to one or more
his novels. All of the correspondence was in rough chronological order upon arrival,
and a small amount of organizing was done to complete this arrangement.