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Jim Crace:

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

Creator: Crace, Jim, 1946-
Title: Jim Crace Papers
Dates: 1954-2009
Extent: 44 document boxes (18.48 linear feet), 2 oversize boxes
Abstract: The Jim Crace Papers, 1954-2009, consist of manuscript drafts, scripts, advance proofs, notes, notebooks, research material, correspondence, clippings, scrapbooks, photographs, serial publications, books, sound recordings, moving images, watercolors, juvenilia, posters, and ephemera from the English novelist Jim Crace. The personal and professional papers span Crace’s writing career and document his diverse range of creative output which includes novels, essays, investigative journalism articles, short stories, dramatic and educational radio scripts, television scripts, watercolor paintings, and some poetry.
Language: English, German, French, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Danish, and Czech
Access:

Open for research.

The Jim Crace Papers include a small amount of material that was exposed to moisture and suffered minor mold damage. The Conservation Department has vacuum treated this material, but mold may still be present. These items are identified in the collection; for health reasons, patrons may consider wearing gloves and a dust/mist respirator while handling this material.




Acquisition:

Purchase (R16575), 2008-2009

Processed by:

Amy E. Armstrong, 2009-2010

Repository:

The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center


The English writer Jim Crace was born on March 1, 1946, at Brocket Hall in Herfordshire to Charles and Edith "Jane" Crace. Crace was raised on the boundary between city and country in Enfield, North London in a nurturing and well-anchored home. His working-class father, a curious, self-educated, politically-minded atheist, had an immense influence on Crace, as did attending the prestigious Enfield Grammar School. As Crace did not attend his local school, he was on a boundary once again between two distinct classes, and this maneuvering shaped Crace’s world view and informed his later writing. Throughout his teenage years and early adulthood, Crace sympathized with liberal causes and became politically active in the Enfield Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, for which he edited leaflets. After a period of travel and introspection, Crace attended Birmingham College of Commerce (now the University of Central England in Birmingham) and was awarded an external Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of London in 1968. While at university, Crace edited and contributed to the Birmingham Sun, the newspaper of the Guild of Students, University of Aston.

Immediately after graduating from university, Crace joined the Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) and was sent to Khartoum, Sudan, where he assisted writing and producing educational programs for Sudanese Educational Television. Crace traveled through Africa and briefly taught at a village school called Kgosi Kgari Sechele Secondary School in Molepolole, Botswana. Crace’s exposure to other cultures while living abroad in Africa and later while traveling through North and Central America also inspired his later writings.

Upon returning to Britain in 1970, Crace taught briefly and then worked as a freelance writer, initially for the British Broadcasting Corporation. There he wrote radio scripts for the BBC Schools’ educational broadcasts, many of which incorporated themes related to African culture and history. Crace soon broadened the scope of his writing and turned to short fiction. In 1974, the literary journal The New Review published "Annie, California Plates," his first of three short stories to appear in the journal. Crace soon had stories published in Cosmopolitan, Socialist Challenge, the London Review of Books, and Quarto, leading to book offers from agents and publishers. During this time, Crace met a teacher named Pamela Turton whom he married on January 3, 1975. The couple settled in Birmingham, England, and later had two children, Thomas and Lauren. Crace continued writing dramatic and comedic scripts for the radio and even co-wrote teleplays for a possible television series. Although the television scripts were unproduced, two of his radio plays, The Bird Has Flown (1976) and A Coat of Many Colours (1979), aired on BBC 4.

Despite offers from publishers, publication in The New Review led Crace to a freelance career in journalism, and he contributed investigative and feature articles to The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph Magazine, and The Radio Times. He also reviewed books and wrote literary criticism for Quarto, The Times Literary Supplement, and The Sunday Times. Even though Crace was committed to journalism, he grew increasingly frustrated with editors’ tight control over his articles. He accepted advances from the publishers Heinemann (U.K.) and Harper & Row (U.S.) that allowed him to leave journalism and focus on writing his first novel.

The transition from fact-reporting journalism to full-time fiction writing was difficult for Crace, and he initially had trouble focusing his ideas. While providing a rather unfavorable review of Gabriel García Márquez’s novel In Evil Hour, Crace became aware of the power and effectiveness of magic realism. Writing about imagined worlds in realistic--though often fictitious--terms came easily for Crace, and he found his voice and developed his distinct style. When Crace was 40, his first book, Continent (1986), a collection of seven loosely-related stories about an imagined continent, was published and received immediate critical praise, winning the Whitbread First Novel Prize, the David Higham Prize for Fiction, the Guardian Fiction Prize, and a year later, the Premio Antico Fattore.

Crace is regarded as one of Britain’s most original voices through his use of invented language, depiction of city and landscape, and exploration of individual behavior in ever-changing complex societies. Crace is interested in invention, as evidenced by his novel’s convincing but fictitious epigraphs. Though his novels are each very unique, they retain the hallmarks of Crace’s distinct style. As a result, the books have garnered critical success, and Crace has received numerous awards and honors, including the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ E. M. Forster Prize. His fifth novel, Quarantine (1997), was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and won the Whitbread Fiction Prize; his next novel, Being Dead (1999), won the National Book Critics’ Circle Award for Fiction and Book Review Best Books selection, and was short-listed for the Whitbread Novel of the Year Award. In 2000, Crace’s alma mater, the University of Central England in Birmingham, presented him with an Honorary Degree of Doctor of the University, and in 2002, the University of Birmingham awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Letters. Many of Crace’s works have been adapted to film and theatrical productions and even inspired musical pieces.

Between 1981 and 1983, Crace was Midlands Arts Centre Writer-in-Residence, where he concluded his tenure by founding and directing the Birmingham Festival of Readers and Writers. Crace has often mentored aspiring writers through writer-in-residence and university programs and was the inaugural recipient of the James A. Michener Center for Writers Distinguished Writer-in-Residence award at The University of Texas at Austin. Crace frequently contributes essays and articles for newspapers and magazines and was invited by Médecins Sans Frontières to contribute an investigative report for their series "Authors in the Front Line," in which writers travel and bring much-needed attention to the world’s most troubled regions.

The natural world, which features prominently in Crace’s writing, is not only an influence, but an avocation. He is a serious gardener, amateur ornithologist, and landscape painter. Indeed, his family’s annual trips to the Isles of Scilly off England’s southwestern coast have inspired his watercolors and three of his novels. Crace has stated that after finishing his books All That Follows (2010) and a "Cracean" autobiography provisionally titled Archipelago, he intends to devote more time to painting.


In addition to material found within the Jim Crace Papers, the following sources were used:

"Jim Crace." Contemporary Authors Online, http://galenet.galegroup.com (accessed 26 October 2009).

"Jim Crace." Contemporary Literary Criticism, http://galenet.galegroup.com (accessed 26 October 2009).

Tew, Philip. Jim Crace. Contemporary British Novelists Series. Manchester, England: Manchester University Press, 2006.


The Jim Crace Papers, 1954-2009, consist of manuscript drafts, scripts, advance proofs, notes, notebooks, research material, correspondence, clippings, scrapbooks, photographs, serial publications, books, sound recordings, moving images, watercolors, juvenilia, posters, and ephemera from the English novelist Jim Crace. The personal and professional papers span Crace’s writing career and document his diverse range of creative output which includes novels, essays, investigative journalism articles, short stories, dramatic and educational radio scripts, television scripts, watercolor paintings, and some poetry. The papers are organized into six series: I. Literary Activities, II. Journalism, III. Correspondence, IV. Career and Personal Papers, V. Works by Others, and VI. Magazines and Newspapers.

Series I. Literary Activities includes products associated with Crace’s writing and is arranged into three subseries: A. Novels, B. Short Works, and C. Radio Scripts. The Novels subseries is arranged in alphabetical order by title, and within each title the material generally follows the chronological order of literary production, from research notes to publication drafts. When applicable, related material such as dust jackets, reviews, publicity material, correspondence, or adaptations follow the drafts. The Short Works subseries contain two subgroupings with titles arranged alphabetically: Short Stories/Poems and Essays /Introductions/Articles. The Radio Scripts subseries contains both dramatic radio plays and school broadcasts and is arranged alphabetically by title. The School broadcasts are further arranged within each title by episode number.

Series II. Journalism pertains to articles and reviews written by Crace between 1970 and 1988, prior to his career as a full-time novelist. He wrote for the Telegraph Sunday Magazine, The Radio Times, Sunday Times Magazine, and reviewed books for the Times Literary Supplement, The Sunday Times, New Statesman, and Quarto. This series includes article typescripts, original clippings and photocopies of published articles and book reviews, notes and notebooks, research material, royalty statements, and scrapbooks containing original and photocopies of articles and reviews.

Series III. Correspondence contains personal, professional, and fan letters, including printed electronic mail (email). The arrangement closely follows Crace’s own categories. Personal correspondence consists primarily of letters with family and close friends, the bulk of which are letters Crace wrote to his parents while living in Africa and traveling abroad during the late 1960s and early 1970s. It also includes letters from and to friends he associated with during that period. The general correspondence forms the largest segment and it is in alphabetical order by correspondent’s name or entity. It includes letters from authors, publishers, agents, friends, readers, and other associates. Publishers’ correspondence consists primarily of email exchanged between 2005 and 2008 and is arranged by date. Letters and email regarding film rights for Crace’s novels Being Dead and The Pesthouse are also contained in this series, as is readers' correspondence received largely from unknown fans. These two groupings are also arranged by date.

Series IV. Career and Personal Papers contains Crace’s address books, daily appointment calendars, childhood and school papers, family papers, ephemera collected while in Africa and as a journalist, honors, clippings and transcripts of interviews and articles about Crace, invitations, juvenilia and early works, photographs, brochures for public appearances and book festivals, lecture notes and drafts, publisher catalogs, material in support of Salman Rushdie, material related to his Voluntary Services Overseas work in Sudan, and his watercolors. The materials are in alphabetical order by name or topic.

Series V. Works by Others contains literary criticism of Crace’s work, in the form of journal articles and academic papers, works in which Crace is mentioned, and a piece of music inspired by The Gift of Stones .

Series VI. Magazines and Newspapers is in alphabetical order by title with the bulk consisting of periodicals containing Crace’s published works, interviews or articles about Crace, and in rare instances, issues he collected or retained for research related to particular writings.

Items identified as Scrapbooks in the collection were Nyrex albums containing plastic sleeves with Crace’s published articles, clippings, letters, awards, and some photographs. Because some albums were damaged and the general chemical composition of these albums creates an unfavorable archival environment for the material, the contents were removed from the albums and placed in the same sequence within folders.

The Jim Crace Papers include a small amount of material that was exposed to moisture and suffered minor mold damage. The Conservation Department has vacuum treated this material, but mold may still be present. These items are identified in the collection; for health reasons, patrons may consider wearing gloves and a dust/mist respirator while handling this material.


The Tom Stoppard Papers at the Ransom Center contain additional material related to Jim Crace.


Jim Crace’s library includes approximately 143 volumes of Crace’s novels in different editions and languages, as well as books containing contributions by Crace. These have been separated from the collection and are housed in the Ransom Center’s Book Collection. Two political buttons, one award plaque, and one certificate tube have been separated from the collection and are housed in the Ransom Center’s Personal Effects Collection. A collection of audio cassette tapes and CDs containing radio interviews, readings, and audio books have been separated from the collection and are housed in the Ransom Center’s Sound Recordings Collection. Three VHS tapes, one micro VHS tape, and one DVD have been separated from the collection and are housed in the Ransom Center’s Moving Image Collection. One 3.5-inch floppy disk containing drafts of The Pesthouse has been separated from the collection and is housed in the Ransom Center’s Electronic Records Collection.


People

Crace, Jim

Organizations

British Broadcasting Corporation

Subjects

Africa--Travel and description

Authors, English--20th century

English fiction--20th century

Journalism--England--20th century

Document Types

Address books

Calendars

Clippings

Correspondence

Juvenilia

Manuscripts

Photographs

Poems

Publications

Scrapbooks

Scripts

Serials (publications)

Sound recordings

Watercolors

Oversize Container 45-46