Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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John Fowles:

An Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator Fowles, John, 1926-2005.
Title John Fowles Papers
Dates: ca. 1926-1992
Extent 57 boxes, 7 galley files (ca. 26 linear feet)
Abstract: The papers encompass all of Fowles' major works, including The French Lieutenant's Woman, with accompanying correspondence, production materials, contracts, and research materials, as well as published and unpublished essays, novels, plays, poems, and short stories. There are numerous adaptions of his works, and books and dissertations about Fowles and his works. The papers also include nearly a half-century of Fowles's diaries, and a few photographs.
RLIN Record # TXRC93-A76
Language English.
Access

Open for research




Acquisition

Purchase and gift, 1968-1993, 1999

Processed by

Joan Sibley, 1993; diaries added by Liz Murray, 1999

Repository:

Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin


John Robert Fowles was born March 31, 1926, at Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, the son of Robert and Gladys Richards Fowles. He was educated at Alleyn Court School (1934-1939) and Bedford School (1939-1944), excelling in both scholarship and sports. When his family was evacuated from the London suburbs during World War II, Fowles lived in and became acquainted with the Devon countryside. He served two years military service in the Royal Marines (1945-1947) after receiving training at the University of Edinburgh (1944-1945), but did not see any combat duty. In 1947, he entered New College, Oxford, to read French and German languages and literature, graduating in 1950.

Upon completion of his education, Fowles taught at the University of Poitiers in France (1950-1951) and at the Anargyrios College (1951-1953) on the Greek island of Spetsai. It was here that he met his future wife, Elizabeth Whitton, to whom he was married April 2, 1954. Upon his return to London, teaching remained his profession at Ashridge College (1953-1954) and at St. Godric's College (1954-1963), until one of several writing projects bore fruit. The publication and immense success of his novel The Collector (1963) enabled Fowles to concentrate his energies upon a career as a writer.

Fowles's major works include The Aristos (1964), The Magus (1965), The French Lieutenant's Woman (1969), Poems (1973), The Ebony Tower (1974), Daniel Martin (1977), Mantissa (1982), and A Maggot (1985). From these, three major motion pictures have been produced to date: The Collector (1965), The Magus (1968), and The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981). In addition to his novels, short stories, poems, philosophical writings, and screenplays, Fowles was also the translator of several plays from the French for the National Theatre( Don Juan, Lorenzaccio, The Lottery of Love, and Martine) and of other French works, such as Cinderella and Ourika. Nonfiction books to his credit include Shipwreck, Islands, Land, The Tree, and The Enigma of Stonehenge, and reflect such interests as antiquarianism, conservation and ecology, local history, and the appreciation of nature. His articles appeared in a variety of journals and he contributed numerous forewords and introductions to works by others.

In 1966, Fowles and his wife Elizabeth left London for Dorset, living first at Underhill Farm, then moving to Lyme Regis in 1968, where he resided until his death on November 5, 2005. In 1978, he was appointed joint honorary curator of the Lyme Regis (Philpot) Museum, and served from 1979-1988 as the sole honorary curator.

The bulk of this collection was acquired from Mr. Fowles in 1991, though separate smaller acquisitions were made 1968-1989 for materials relating to The Aristos, Don Juan, and The French Lieutenant's Woman. Additional items were received, 1982-1993, as gifts from Robert Huffaker and Charlotte Rhodes, and in 1999. Mr. Fowles died in 2005 at the age of 79.


Aubrey, James R. John Fowles: A Reference Companion. New York: Greenwood Press, 1991.

Huffaker, Robert. John Fowles. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1980.

Olshen, Barry N. and Toni A. Olshen. John Fowles: A Reference Guide. Boston: G. K. Hall & Co., 1980.

Pifer, Ellen. "John Fowles." The Dictionary of Literary Biography. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1983. 14: 309-336.


The John Fowles Papers, ca. 1926-1992 (bulk 1953-1991), consist largely of manuscripts, galleys, and page proofs of his works (both published and unpublished), plus accompanying clippings, contracts, correspondence, and research materials. Playscript and screenplay adaptations of his works are also present, as are some cast lists, film schedules, and legal documents concerning film rights. There are also numerous articles, book reviews, dissertations and theses, and other works about Fowles and his work, which were sent to him by students, scholars, and others. The remainder of the collection includes personal papers and miscellaneous items, such as audio recordings, diaries, legal papers, nature observation journals, photographs, receipts, a royalty statement, and school reports.

The collection is arranged in five series: I. Works, ca. 1953-1991 (35 boxes), II. Adaptations of Fowles's Works, ca. 1968-1987 (5 boxes), III. Works about Fowles, ca. 1963-1991 (10 boxes), IV. Personal Papers, ca. 1926-1990, (5 boxes), and V. Miscellaneous, ca. 1965-1981 (2 boxes). While the materials have been arranged into these series, the order of material within folders has generally not been disturbed, except to occasionally regularize the chronology of correspondence where present. Fowles's original folders have been retained as they frequently include title information, dates, identifications of draft progression, or other notes. There are also often descriptive notes within folders, information Fowles apparently jotted down as he was preparing his papers for shipment to the Ransom Center.

John Fowles and his works are the foremost subjects represented in this collection. Manuscript materials are included for several of his major works: The Magus, The Aristos, The French Lieutenant's Woman, The Ebony Tower, Daniel Martin, Mantissa, and A Maggot. Additional manuscripts represent poems, plays, several translations from the French( Cinderella, Don Juan, Lorenzaccio, The Lottery of Love, Martine, and Ourika ), various nonfiction works (such as Shipwreck, Islands, Land, The Tree, and The Enigma of Stonehenge ), contributions to books by others, and book reviews, as well as curatorial and local history writings. A number of unpublished essays, novels, plays, poems, short stories, and screenplays are also present in this collection, most notably the manuscript for Fowles's first novel, to have been titled "A Journey to Athens," or "An Island and Greece."

Fowles's interest in and role as a translator of French literature, especially of French drama for performance by the National Theatre, is well represented in this collection by manuscripts and correspondence from Michael Bogdanov, John Russell Brown, Peter Gill, and Sir Peter Hall. Correspondence from photographer Fay Godwin concerns her work with Fowles on Islands and Land. A wide variety of topics are addressed in Fowles's non-fiction writings, including American culture, antiquarianism, art, authors and books, conservation and ecology, criticism, England, local history, music, the natural world, philosophy, sports, and writers and writing.

Other correspondents represented in Fowles's manuscript files include his agents (Julian Bach, Anthony Sheil), and editors (Tom Maschler, Ray A. Roberts), as well as other literary agency and publishing company personnel, co-authors, solicitors of work, and others.

Various adaptations for stage, screen, and television versions of such works as The Collector, Daniel Martin, The Ebony Tower, and The French Lieutenant's Woman are also present. The long process of successfully adapting and producing The French Lieutenant's Woman for film is detailed in extensive correspondence (chiefly legal in nature) and contracts, as well as through several drafts of screenplays by writers Harold Pinter, Dennis Potter, and David Rudkin. Correspondence from directors Karel Reisz, George Schaefer, and to Fred Zinnemann is also included.

Correspondence and writings by others about Fowles and his works makes up another segment of this collection. Often Fowles responded to these students, scholars, and other writers, sometimes providing detailed commentary in his answers to questionnaires and correspondence. There are also numerous press clippings of reviews of Fowles's works.

The personal papers provide documentation of Fowles's school days, his interest in observing birds and identifying plants, as well as the analysis of dreams. Diaries kept intermittently over a 50-year period are also present, "...deliberately reflecting either my personal or the later twentieth century's growth," but having no clear literary or historical purpose, according to Fowles. Legal papers concern a libel action involving The Collector, and correspondence from fellow 1971 Booker Prize panelists Saul Bellow, Antonia Fraser, and Malcolm Muggeridge concerns the controversy in selecting the recipient of that award.

This collection offers extensive material for critical, bibliographical, and textual studies of the works of John Fowles, but contains less in terms of more personal information, such as personal correspondence, financial or legal records.


Other manuscript collections at the HRC which contain materials concerning John Fowles include:

David Higham & Associates Archive. Includes correspondence, ca. 1954-1955, concerning an attempt to publish "A Journey to Athens," or "An Island and Greece"

London Magazine. Includes a manuscript of an interview of Fowles by Daniel Halpern

Screenplay Collection. Includes a script of The Magus

Additionally, the HRC Library holds a large selection of books by and about Fowles (accessible through the online catalog, UTCAT), and the Theatre Arts Collection has posters for the films of The Collector and The Magus .

The University of Tulsa also has a collection of John Fowles materials, which includes manuscripts for The Collector and The French Lieutenant's Woman .


Correspondents

Bach, Julian.

Bellow, Saul.

Bogdanov, Michael.

Brown, John Russell.

Fraser, Antonia, 1932- .

Gill, Peter, 1939- .

Godwin, Fay.

Hall, Peter, Sir, 1930- .

Maschler, Tom, 1934- .

Muggeridge, Malcolm, 1903- .

Pinter, Harold, 1930- .

Potter, Dennis.

Reisz, Karel.

Roberts, Ray A.

Rudkin, David, 1936- .

Schaefer, George, 1920- .

Sheil, Anthony.

Zinnemann, Fred, 1907- .

Organizations

Jonathan Cape, Ltd.

Little, Brown and Company.

Lyme Regis Museum.

National Theatre (Great Britain).

Subjects

Archaeology--Great Britain.

Authors, English--20th century.

Bird watching--Great Britain.

Botany--England.

French drama--Translations into English.

Historic sites--England.

Nature study.

Nature.

Photography--Landscapes.

Plants--Identification.

Places

Dorset (England)--Description and travel.

England--Antiquities.

Great Britain--Description and travel.

Lyme Regis (England)--History.

Document Types

Diaries.

Galley proofs.

Photographs.

Report cards.

Screenplays.

Scripts.

Sound recordings.

Television scripts.

Theater programs.