Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Doris Lessing:

A Preliminary Inventory of Her Papers at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Creator Lessing, Doris May
Title Doris Lessing Papers
Dates: 1940s-1999
Extent 45 boxes, 9 galleys (18.9 linear feet)
Abstract: The papers include novels, short stories, and plays for stage, television, and film, non-fiction, works including adaptations, articles, essays, and lectures, as well as reviews of works of this British author.
RLIN Record #
Language English.
Access

Open for research




Acquisition

Purchase, 1999 (Reg. no. 14457)

Processed by

Liz Murray, 1999

Repository:

Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin


This collection of Doris Lessing material, which she personally arranged in 33 numbered bundles, underwent a modest transformation and listing by the dealer, Bertram Rota, before shipment to the Ransom Center. The material is grouped by works as received, with some rearrangement to achieve alphabetical order. Included are novels, short stories, and plays for stage, television, and film, non-fiction, works including adaptations, articles, essays, and lectures, as well as reviews. Because Ms. Lessing did not retain most of her early manuscripts, this collection lacks much of her work from the 1950s and 1960s, such as The Grass Is Singing, the Children of Violence series, Going Home, The Habit of Loving, The Golden Notebook, A Man and Two Women, and African Stories. However, a few early plays and short stories are present. Her later publications are particularly well-represented including the Canopus in Argos series, her two autobiographies, and most recent novel Mara and Dann. Very little correspondence is present, except for exchanges with publishers A. A. Knopf, Jonathan Cape, and HarperCollins, as well as editors, agents, and personal mail, mostly pertinent to her publications and tours.

The collection is organized in two series: Series I. Works, 1940s-1999, and Series II. Reviews and Tours. The works encompass a variety of literary formats and are listed in a single alphabet. Whether a short story or a novel, Ms. Lessing composed directly on a typewriter, but did make extensive holograph corrections. Some of the corrections take the form of added sections which she paper-clipped to the typescript, usually as an overlay to the original passage. These have been left as received and the reader is cautioned to handle these manuscripts with care. Additionally, many pages have small tears and folds which require cautious handling. There are many versions of corrected typescripts, often identified as successive drafts. Production materials typically stem from Knopf editions; other publishers are indicated in the folder list where appropriate. Ms. Lessing's original folders with holograph descriptions are retained throughout.

Series II contains numerous reviews of Ms. Lessing's works which appeared in newspapers and magazines worldwide. The tours in this series document the trips she made in connection with books tours and to receive awards such as the 1982 Shakespeare Prize. She travelled extensively in the 1980s, visiting Europe, Africa, Japan, North America, Australia, and Argentina, often arranging to meet with students at various colleges and universities in addition to her other commitments.