||The papers of British writer Kazuo Ishiguro consist of drafts of published and
unpublished works, personal and professional correspondence, notebooks, photographs,
clippings, juvenilia, and family papers which document Ishiguro's diverse writing
career and range of creative output, including novels, screenplays, short stories,
song lyrics, and even drawings. The papers are organized into five series: I. Works,
1964-2014, undated; II. Correspondence, circa 1970s-2010s, undated; III. Personal
and Professional Papers, 1955-2015; IV. Works by Others, 1989-2009, undated; and V.
Periodicals and Publications, 1985-2011.
||It is evident that Ishiguro was very conscious and purposeful in selecting,
organizing, and preparing his papers for transfer to the Ransom Center in 2015. He
carefully considered what to include (for example, regarding his correspondence,
Ishiguro notes "I've excluded from this submission anything I felt had been sent to
me in confidence…") and carefully arranged the materials into labeled A4-sized
document storage boxes. In addition, Ishiguro annotated his papers with sticky
notes; in some cases including typed notes that run to a page or more. These notes
offer detailed context and background on circumstances surrounding specific events,
identification of key people, and nostalgic memories of the past. Because these
notes form an intrinsic part of the archive, they were retained during processing.
In cases where Ishiguro used sticky notes, the notes were removed from the paper,
placed into plastic Mylar sleeves, and filed in front of the item. In order to
easily locate material with extensive comments, an asterisk (*) is used in the
container list to identify such documents.
||The arrangement of the materials closely reflects Ishiguro's own organization of the
documents. Where Ishiguro provided a meaningful label for a grouping of material or
a title for an unpublished work, that wording was used in the container list and is
indicated in single quotes.
||Series I. Works forms the bulk of the material and consists of 51 document boxes of
notes, drafts, electronic files, proofs, editorial queries, adaptations, scripts,
and film treatments associated with Ishiguro's writings. The works are arranged into
four subseries: A. Novels, 1980-2014, undated; B. Screenplays, 1984-2005, undated;
C. 'Early Work, Unpublished Work, and Miscellaneous (including 'The Experiments'),'
circa 1978-2013, undated; and D. 'Juvenilia,' 1964-2014, undated (bulk 1970-1979).
Works within each of these subseries are in alphabetical order by title. If an
individual work has corresponding electronic files, an entry for the files is
included in the container list within the material associated with that title and
includes a brief description, the number of files, the file formats, and the
timestamp. These dates do not necessarily reflect precisely when the file was
created or last saved. Files listed as IBM PC DOS were created by Ishiguro using a
Panasonic KX-W1510 word processor.
||Subseries: A. Novels represents all of Ishiguro's book-length works published between
1982 and 2009 and is in alphabetical order by title. Rough papers, drafts, proofs,
etc. for The Buried Giant (2015) are not included
because it was published after Ishiguro's papers arrived at the Ransom Center;
however a few pages of notes and fragments were mixed in with notes from Nocturnes. Within each title, the material generally
follows the chronological order of literary production, from research and notes to
publication proofs. When present, related material such as editorial correspondence
and film, radio and theatrical adaptations by other writers follow the proofs.
||It wasn't until the late 1990s, that Ishiguro began keeping the 'rough papers' of
work; his first ideas, notes, working drafts, and rejected pages that began the
initial phases of a writing project. As a result, the amount of material for
Ishiguro's published novels vary, with the earlier novels often only containing
complete manuscript drafts and proofs. For his later works, including When We Were Orphans, Nocturnes, and Never Let Me Go, he
includes pages and pages of early notes, providing a more complete picture of a
novel's evolution. These 'rough papers' include outlines, notes, plot sketches,
various drafts experimenting with narrative voice and structure, chapter drafts, and
rejected pages. The notes were loose and most pages are unnumbered and without
dates, making it difficult to discern any order or writing chronology. As a result,
no attempt was made to arrange these materials within folders. The exception to this
is Ishiguro's heavy use of paperclips. Pages that were clipped together were placed
in white paper sleeves during processing in order to maintain the association and
reflect Ishiguro's process.
||Ishiguro's working method has remained remarkably consistent throughout his career.
Before beginning formal drafts, he spends a great deal of time, often two or more
years, plotting the "fictional landscape" before ever beginning the actual prose.
When his papers were acquired by the Ransom Center, Ishiguro drafted an explanation
of his process, titled 'How I Write,' and pulled
examples of working draft segments from When We Were
Orphans to illustrate each stage of the process. This explanation and
the draft segments were placed with his writings during processing at the Center and
are filed at the beginning of box 1. Copies are also available in the Ransom Center
Reading and Viewing Room.
||The novel Never Let Me Go (2005) contains the most
material with ten document boxes of 'rough papers,' handwritten working drafts,
typescript drafts, proofs, and correspondence. The 'ideas as they come' notebooks
contain lengthy notes about possible plots, themes, and narrative structure. Very
often these notes take the form of a conversation, where Ishiguro "talks through"
his ideas in writing in order to come to a solution. An example of such a note,
"Miss Emily, we do need to think more about her…" For preservation purposes, the
papers were removed from the original binder notebooks and a photocopy made of the
||The seven segments marked Clones 1, Clones 2, etc. comprise the 'first rough draft'
of the novel and demonstrate a departure from Ishiguro's usual habit of drafting and
redrafting large segments of pages before moving on to the next section. With this
novel, Ishiguro wrote this rough draft all the way through to the end before
revising. The seven notebooks were photographed and prints were made to show the
original look and feel of the first draft binder notebooks, but the contents were
removed for preservation purposes.
||Though Ishiguro's novel Never Let Me Go was
successfully adapted to film in 2010 by Alex Garland, there is no script or
correspondence regarding the adaptation in the papers.
||Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall (2009)
is Ishiguro's only published short-story collection; however, Ishiguro conceived of
it as one entire book with related themes and stories. He approached it as if
writing a novel, simultaneously drafting each story one after another. Originally,
the "rough papers" were unsorted and the various drafts for each story intermingled.
To aid in identification, the stories were sorted and arranged by title.
||Ishiguro's first novel, A Pale View of Hills (1982),
does not include documentation of his early ideas; however, Ishiguro provides sticky
notes that explains the changes between the 'penultimate draft' and the 'final
draft.' Ishiguro clarifies that the 'final draft' contains his original ending, but
after conversations with his editor, Robert McCrum, and his agent, Deborah Rogers,
Ishiguro devised a new ending. So, the 'final draft' is actually the last draft of
the original story before it was revised. Unfortunately, the archive doesn't contain
a final typed draft with the changes incorporated; only the "penultimate draft" with
||Several writers expressed interest in adapting A Pale View of
Hills and the papers include screenplays by Peter Kosminsky, Kosminsky
and Ishiguro, Kiju Yoshida, and Semi Chellas, as well as a radio adaptation by Jim
||While preparing his papers, Ishiguro collected together several works that he refers
to as 'Run-up to The Remains of the Day.' Each of these four works played a crucial
role for Ishiguro, as he experimented with the ideas and explored the themes that
would eventually become the Booker-award winning novel, The
Remains of the Day (1989). A Profile of Arthur J.
Mason (broadcast 1984) is a teleplay commissioned by England's Channel 4
in 1982 or 1983. Ishiguro explains, "This was my first outing with a butler
character, and later, as I began to work on Remains,
I remember I saw in my mind for Stevens the face and manner of Bernard Hepton, the
actor who portrayed Arthur Mason." The unfinished story "England in October" was written in 1983 and Ishiguro describes this as
"the first clear manifestation of ideas that later became The
Remains of the Day…No sign of a butler yet, but the idea of a mythical
version of England and Englishness created for 'nostalgia' and the consumption of
foreign Anglophiles began, in a literal way, in this story…". The story "The Patron," though abandoned, focuses on a butler
whose "voice is quite close to that of Stevens. The butler-master relationship is
earlier version of Stevens/Darlington, though the master here involves himself
naively in domestic politics." The notes and outline for the unrealized teleplay,
Service in Japan, closely resemble Remains, which
Ishiguro had already started writing, and so to focus on the novel, abandoned that
||The first complete draft of The Remains of the Day
manuscript is in the folders called 'Intermediate Draft and Scrapped Chapters.' On
an attached sticky note, Ishiguro explains that he discarded boxes of the earliest
drafts while working during his "lock-in" sessions; therefore, this surviving draft
is considered the first draft to be found in the papers. This version includes an
alternate opening chapter that Ishiguro removed and decided not to include in the
published novel. The segments are arranged in the original order as found in
Ishiguro's original folder.
||The two folders titled "Final draft - Original Top Copy" include a manuscript draft
that more closely resembles the final published novel. The heavily edited and
revised draft is divided into segments; frequently with notes interfiled among the
||Two attempts were made to adapt the novel into a screenplay--first by Harold Pinter
and then later by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala--and both scripts are in the papers. Pinter
personally optioned the novel, but Columbia Pictures decided the cost was too great
and the project was taken over by Merchant-Ivory Productions. Jhabvala was asked to
adapt the novel and her script was successfully produced into the Academy-award
winning film starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson and directed by James
||Ishiguro's experimental novel, The Unconsoled (1995),
includes six boxes of material. Four volumes of notes dating from approximately 1991
to 1994 outline Ishiguro's possible plot ideas and structure, political and unifying
themes, characters and relationships, and what he refers to as 'The Experiments.'
Looking at these writing exercises, one gets a true sense of Ishiguro's desire to
try out new techniques and devices. Of interest in box 25.7 is a handwritten sheet
which hung by Ishiguro's desk detailing a "menu of methods which I could take
in—just in a glance—as I was writing…" Though integral to the creation of this
novel's unique form, in preparing his papers, Ishiguro separated 'The Experiments'
from the papers associated with The Unconsoled and filed them with his miscellaneous
works [see Subseries C 'Early Work, Unpublished Work, Miscellaneous (including 'The
||Some scholars and critics view Ishiguro's fifth novel, When We
Were Orphans (2000), as an attempt to correct perceived problems with
The Unconsoled. After completing his fourth
novel, in notes dated 10 October 1994, Ishiguro reflects on the "lessons learned"
he is "struggling to form a foundation for a new novel." He begins, "Okay, here we
are, it looks like we've finally finished the long novel. It's called THE
UNCONSOLED. Now what thoughts do we have about it? ...Let's give a little time to
thinking about things before going onto the next project…" (These notes were in a
binder notebook called 'Notes for Novel 5,' but the papers were removed for
preservation purposes. Originally, Ishiguro filed the notebook with material from
The Unconsoled, but since the notes primarily
deal with ideas for novel five, the papers are filed with When We Were Orphans materials).
||Ishiguro's father, Shizuo, was born in Shanghai, the setting for When We Were Orphans (Ishiguro's grandfather was sent to
China to establish Toyota in the early-mid 20th century). This personal family
connection to Shanghai informed Ishiguro's vision of the city and his father
provided assistance with research, hoping that it would assist his son. In addition
to family photos showing Shizuo as a child in Shanghai, included are photocopied
pages, which Shizuo annotated and translated, from a book about Shanghai housed at
the Nagasaki Central Library.
||Often Ishiguro's notes and drafts begin long before a novel is published, suggesting
a contemplative, iterative technique focused on getting it just right. The early
plans, notes, and rough papers for When We Were
Orphans were started in 1994 and these original notes indicate a very
different storyline; a mystery within a mystery. Ishiguro ultimately abandoned this
thread and the discarded 'Coring Mystery' pages are filed with drafts of Part
||Mick Jagger's film production company, Jagged Films, optioned the novel and three
script drafts written by Jay Cocks are included.
||Subseries B. Screenplays includes drafts (printouts and electronic files) of
Ishiguro's film and television projects. Not only have many of Ishiguro's novels
been optioned or produced for screen, Ishiguro has written two successfully produced
screenplays; The Saddest Music in the World (2003)
starring Isabella Rosselini and directed by Guy Maddin and The White Countess (2005) starring Ralph Fiennes, Natasha Richardson,
and Vanessa Redgrave and directed by James Ivory. For both films, the initial
screenplay, along with multiple successive drafts, are included.
||Subseries C. 'Early Work, Unpublished Work, Miscellaneous (including 'The
Experiments')' includes manuscript drafts for Ishiguro's short works which include:
early short stories, contributions to works by others, the experiments leading up
The Unconsoled, unrealized ideas for film and
television projects, nonfiction essays, a review written by Ishiguro, speeches and
addresses, lyrics, notes and ideas for writing projects, and unrealized and/or
abandoned writing projects.
||The early short stories are arranged chronologically, as that was Ishiguro's original
arrangement. The radio play, Potatoes and Lovers, was
submitted unsuccessfully to the BBC; however, Ishiguro included it as part of his
successful application to Malcolm Bradbury's creative writing program at the
University of East Anglia in 1979.
||The 1991 writing experiments, which Ishiguro labeled as Experiments 1 through 5, were
exercises he used to stretch himself as a writer by exploring different literary
devices. For example, Experiment 1 is focused on third person / first person
narrative voice. After playing with this technique and considering it, Ishiguro
concludes "The narrative technique doesn't really take off to become anything
special…" Ishiguro was eager to try something new for his fourth novel, The Unconsoled, and depart from what readers had come to
expect from his first three, very successful novels.
||The 'Experiments (neat drafts)' were originally in a black notebook binder, but
removed during processing at the Ransom Center for preservation purposes.
Experiments 2 through 5 were used to test the "Dream Technique" (found in folder
48.5). Ishiguro states that the documents in folders 48.4 and 48.5 "should be used
in conjunction." A revised version of Experiment 3 was published in 2001 as "A Village after Dark" in the New Yorker and as a
mini-book in France by Calmann-Lévy. Wishing to use an unpublished piece,
Ishiguro revised Experiment 4 and read it at the 1996 Harbourfront Festival in
||Ishiguro's ability to write across genres is evidenced by his collaboration with
American jazz vocalist, Stacey Kent, and her husband British tenor saxophonist Jim
Tomlinson. Ishiguro's song lyrics have appeared on three of Kent's albums: Breakfast on the Morning Tram (2007, Blue Note / EMI),
Dreamer in Concert (2011, Parlophone France), and
The Changing Lights (2013, Parlophone
Music/Warner). The collaborators have never been in the same room while working and
the "virtual" process begins with Ishiguro drafting the lyrics and then sending them
electronically to Tomlinson who puts the words to music, with frequent exchanges of
music files and emails to get a song to its final arrangement.
||Subseries D. 'Juvenilia' is comprised of childhood stories, song lyrics when Ishiguro
was trying to establish a music career, and Ishiguro's earliest attempts at focused
writing during and between undergraduate and graduate study. "Run, Melody, Run" is the earliest writing that
exists in the papers and was written in a green exercise book between 1964 and 1965
while a student at Stoughton County Junior School. Included with this are annotated
inkjet photo printouts from that period (the original photograph prints are filed
||The 'early (unpublished) novels' are arranged in chronological order and To Remember
a Summer By and Sylvie were written while Ishiguro was at the University of Kent.
The Archive Note filed in folder 50.1 provides detailed context surrounding—and a
critical appraisal of—these early novels, while also providing an incredibly candid
and thoughtful assessment of the significance of these "lost" novels to Ishiguro
||The folder titled 'song lyrics' includes music and lyrics written between 1970 and
1974; including the first song Ishiguro ever wrote in summer 1970 called "Shingles." Ishiguro recalls performing many of these
songs at school programs. Later, Ishiguro often used "foolscap sheets with data
charts on the back" given to him by his oceanographer father, "He had reams of it
and I sometimes used it to save on paper costs!"
||In 1974, Ishiguro took a gap year before beginning university and spent three months
back-packing across the western states of the U.S. and Canada. Three notebooks were
carried by Ishiguro over the course of the 92-day trip and include daily diary
entries, sketches, ideas for songs, and other jottings. The entries for notebooks
one and two are written from the back to the front and in notebook three, Ishiguro
explains, "I appear to have filled every other page with entries, then when I'd
reached the end of the book, come back in reverse order filling up the pages that
were still available." Also included in notebooks one and three are brief entries
related to a trip to Glasgow, Scotland immediately upon returning to Britain from
America. The two booklets, 'And Oh, in Berkeley' and 'In Downtown San Francisco,'
were written a few months after returning to England. "These are my very first
extended prose works in adulthood, and for all the cringe-inducing, sub-American
hippie vernacular, I can see in these pieces a good instinct for structure and
narrative shape (which is alarmingly absent in my first efforts to write novels just
a few years later - 'To Remember a Summer By' and 'Sylvie')."
||Series II. Correspondence is primarily professional and includes letters from
publishers (Faber and Faber and others), agents (Deborah Rogers and others), fans,
aspiring writers, universities, scholars, and other professional associates. A
majority of letters are requests for appearances, interviews, signed books,
charitable donations, permission for rights to adapt or publish Ishiguro's work, and
invitations to book and literary festivals. The letters are filed in chronological
order; however, individual letters within folders are not further arranged.
||Business correspondence between the late 1980s and early 2000s was often conducted
via fax machine. As a result, papers contain a large volume of faded faxed
correspondence. For preservation purposes, these were photocopied during processing
and in extreme cases, some faxes were digitized to enhance the contrast and
||Ishiguro collected together one document box of letters he labeled as '(slightly)
more interesting correspondence.' This description was retained in order to provide
additional context and insight. These are some of the earliest, more personal
letters, often from close University friends or fellow authors; however, many of the
same correspondents can be found throughout the correspondence series. A list of
correspondents found throughout the archive is provided in this guide's Index of
Correspondents; however, routine mail (e.g. regarding home repairs), form letters,
requests for autographs, or basic cover letters (e.g. enclosed is a copy of your
contract) aren't included in the index.
||There is a small group of separately-filed outgoing correspondence from Ishiguro;
however, interfiled within the correspondence between the 1980s and 2000s are
handwritten and typed outgoing letters that were sent via fax.
||Series III. Personal and Professional papers contain documents and items related to
Ishiguro's childhood, family life, and writing career. Childhood and family papers,
marketing and jacket designs for Ishiguro's publications, notebook journals,
photographs, press clippings, travel and public event files, and university and
school papers are found in this series. The materials are in alphabetical order by
name or topic.
||Though Ishiguro estimates that he made well over 100 comic books as a child, these
eight are what remain in large part due to Ishiguro's mother safekeeping. The titles
and plot lines indicate that Ishiguro was inspired by the programs he watched as a
young boy on television: Well Done Noddy, The Flowerpot Men, Bronco, Wells Fargo,
The Gun, Whirlybirds, Asanshonday (phonetic spelling of Ascension Day), and
||The Naomi Comic Strip began when Ishiguro's daughter, Naomi, was 9 years old. He drew
the first panel depicting his wife, Lorna, asleep on the couch. Naomi was amused by
the drawing and Ishiguro continued to add panels over the next couple of weeks. The
comic book "was purely to entertain Naomi (and Lorna) and is full of private jokes
and references. Fairly soon, my wife and daughter (and I) grew tired of the project,
so the story remains unfinished after fourteen pages."
||Ishiguro has prepared a very detailed description of each of the twenty notebooks
journals located in this series. For easy identification, he assigned each an
alphabetical letter (though letters E, I, O are not used due to mislabeling by
Ishiguro). Ishiguro then flagged segments and assigned a number to those segments
within the notebook. The index filed in folder 62.6 provides a listing of these
footnotes with the corresponding annotations. Additional description of other
subjects are listed in the container list. The dates are approximate, and in most
cases, were provided by Ishiguro.
||Black-and-white and color photographs in the collection include family photographs
(print and digital images), informal snapshots, and publicity shots. The photographs
related to his writing career depict Ishiguro on international British Council and
publicity tours, receiving awards and honorary degrees, at book readings, and on
film sets. Of particular interest in folder 64.12 are the photos of Ishiguro's first
visit to Japan in 1989 after leaving there as a child more than three decades
before. The photos include Ishiguro's Japanese relatives and visits to important
sites from his childhood.
||Ishiguro's photos of the 1994 Cannes Film Festival jury, of which he was a member,
provide images of a distinguished group of actors and filmmakers, including a very
relaxed Clint Eastwood. Personal photos of particular interest are Ishiguro's
'childhood' photos in Japan and just after arriving in Britain are filed in folder
64.4. The 'University Days' photos show Ishiguro with long hair and beard, often
playing the guitar or with university friends.
||A Polaroid snapshot taken in summer 1989 includes Ishiguro, his wife Lorna, English
novelist Graham Swift and his wife Candice Rodd, and English novelist Salman Rushdie
with his then-wife Marianne Wiggins. On the back of the photo, Ishiguro has written,
"This photo taken in summer 1989, when Salman Rushdie and his then-wife Marianne
Wiggins stayed the night at our house in Knighton Park Rd, Sydenham, during the
darkest days of Rushdie's fatwa. Eight special branch officers stayed the night too,
some remaining in cars in the street outside."
||For additional context and identification of photos, see the inventory created by
Ishiguro in folder 64.4, as well as the Travel and Public Events segment which often
includes color inkjet printouts of some of the same photos and annotated by
||There are eight document boxes of press clippings which include book reviews, best
seller lists, and profiles of Ishiguro published in British, American, Canadian,
Australian, and foreign language publications. The organization follows Ishiguro's
general arrangement with book reviews and publicity being organized by the title of
the book or film. Profiles, interviews, and mentions are organized by country, also
reflecting Ishiguro's original arrangement.
||Ishiguro has often discussed in interviews his displeasure regarding the grueling
pace of major press tours and the papers also hint at this. The Travel and Public
events segment is arranged chronologically following Ishiguro's own organization.
This arrangement allows one to get a sense of the time Ishiguro spent away from home
and unable to focus on his writing.
||'University days' document aspects of Ishiguro's early adulthood beginning with his
coursework at the University of Kent, his attempt to establish a career in music,
and his early jobs as a social worker. The private diary spans from October 1975 to
May 1976 when Ishiguro had taken a year off from the University of Kent. The pages
detail Ishiguro's brief stint in London as he visits various record labels in the
hope of being discovered, "In many ways, then, this diary tracks my gradual
acceptance that I would fail in the music world (the 'London Project' is declared
'failure' later in the diary), and the movement of my ambitions towards literary
||Series IV. Works by Others is one document box of writings and manuscripts sent to
Ishiguro from other writers, students, and scholars studying his works.
||Series V. Periodicals and Publications consist of entire issues of magazine,
journals, and other printed items containing works by Ishiguro, as well as
interviews with and articles about him. Issues are in alphabetical order by title
and the significance of each is noted within parentheses.