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University of Texas at Austin

Amalia Elguera:

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

Creator: Elguera, Amalia
Title: Amalia Elguera Papers
Dates: 1950s-1996
Extent: 20 boxes (8.4 linear feet)
Abstract: The papers consist of Elguera's lectures, writings, notebooks, and fragments on a wide variety of literary subjects as well as on philosophy, history, and religion. Many of the manuscripts are in both Spanish and English. The papers also include her diaries from 1964-1989, personal materials, and correspondence.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-00193
Language: English and Spanish
Access: Open for research

Administrative Information

Acquisition: Gift, 1998 (Gift no. 11168)
Processed by: Suzanne Casey and Liz Murray, 2002

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Scope and Contents

This collection of papers of the Peruvian-born writer Amalia Elguera reflects her work as a lecturer in Lima and London, her association with Thea Musgrave on two opera projects, and her versatility as a writer of plays, poems, stories, articles, book and film reviews, and essays.
Elguera was educated in Lima and the United States, but settled permanently in London in 1950. From 1955-1982 she was a reader and literary adviser for Harvill Press and Collins. She lectured at the Universidad del Pacifico in Lima, London's Imperial College, and for the Asociacion Cultural Campo Abierto, Instituto Peruano-Britanico, and the PEN Club in London. Her lecture topics included Shakespeare and many other literary figures, as well as philosophy and history. In addition, she worked with Thea Musgave on the librettos for two operas, "Mary, Queen of Scots" and "The Voice of Ariadne."
The papers are organized in four series: Series I. Lectures and Writings; Series II. Holograph Notebooks, Note Cards, and Fragments; Series III. Diaries, 1964-1989; and Series IV. Career-Related and Personal.
Series I includes her lectures and writings on a wide variety of subjects, arranged by title or topic. The Shakespeare lectures predominate the Series, but other literary subjects include an eclectic range from Proust to Pinter. Elguera's lectures also reflect her interests in philosophy, history, and religion as seen in subjects such as Sartre, Comte, Kant, Simone Weil, Bolívar, Burke, and St. Teresa of Avila. She wrote the libretto to accompany Thea Musgrave's "The Voice of Ariadne," represented in the collection by typescript drafts, published libretto, programs, production photographs, and a scrapbook of reviews. Less successfully, Elguera collaborated with Musgrave on the opera "Mary, Queen of Scots" based on Elguera's "Earl of Moray," but the two failed to reach an agreement on the structure and content of the libretto. In the end, Musgrave finished the libretto herself and the opera was produced in New York in 1981.
Many of Elguera's manuscripts are in both Spanish and English. Typically, the bilingual writings contain both holograph and typescript drafts with numerous emendations, along with handwritten notes and fragments written on odd bits of paper, often recycled from other uses. She frequently reworked drafts, sometimes years later, evidenced by dates written in the margins. The collection does not confirm publication of her fiction, poems or plays, although the published versions of "Shakespeare and the Tudor Rose" and "The Spain of Unamuno," an article for The Commonweal, are present. It is likely that articles were published in The Listener as marginal notes on typescripts imply.
The notebooks, fragments, and note cards in Series II echo Elguera's work in Series I and provide additional source material for her research and writing. Dates and subjects vary throughout.
Series III contains Elguera's diaries from 1964-1989. Her entries include a mixture of narrative regarding daily events, as well as notes and drafts for her various writing projects. Entries are sporadic and many of the diaries are only partially filled.
The career-related and personal material in Series IV includes appointment calendars from 1985-1991, works by Elguera's grandmother, a "Diploma de Honor" from Mexico, and files on the caricaturist Luis Bagaria and psychoanalyst and art collector Helen Shipway. Correspondence includes letters to Elguera from Bertram and Edythe Block, Thea Musgrave, and publishers.
The papers arrived at the Ransom Center as a gift of the Estate of Amalia Elguera and are in good physical condition. The collection is open for research.

Amalia Elguera Papers--Folder List