||The papers of British writer Rachel Cusk include drafts (typescript, printout, and
electronic files), notebooks, correspondence, notes, photographs, proof copies, serial
publications, programs, and printed materials. The collection documents Cusk’s writing
process for the Outline trilogy and Medea and provides insight into other professional activities and the intersection of her
creative work with daily family life. The papers are organized into two series, I.
Works, 2002-2018 and II. Personal and Professional, 1974-2018.
||In addition to manuscript materials, the papers include a selection of electronic
files from the hard drive of a MacBook Pro laptop. Electronic files that are open
to researchers include drafts of the novels Outline and Transit and several short articles and essays.
||When Cusk offered her archive for sale, she drafted an explanation of her writing
process and its physical manifestations in the archive, titled 'Introduction.' A printout of this explanation is filed at the beginning of box 1. As Cusk explains,
she creates comparatively few draft versions of her writings, working from an initial
set of notes with long periods of rumination leading to a few written iterations that
conform closely to her initial conception of the story. She possessed few manuscripts
of her earlier works, having discarded them during various house moves, but kept many
of the notebooks that she used to record story ideas and housekeeping notes from her
||Series I. Works contains draft printouts and electronic files, notebooks and notes,
proof copies, and published versions of short stories in literary magazines. 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. Drafts
are present mainly for works written within five years of the sale of Cusk’s archive,
namely the Outline trilogy and Medea, as well as a few essays, reviews, and short stories. In addition to drafts of the
Medea playscript, the series contains notes and dialogue for the play recorded by Cusk
in a notebook and on oversize sheets of paper. Also noteworthy is a journal Cusk kept
while writing the non-fiction memoir Aftermath, with notes for the book, thoughts on various writers and novels, teaching notes
from Cusk’s fiction writing classes, doodles and poems by Cusk’s daughters, and recipes.
||Series II. Personal and Professional contains correspondence, notebooks, notes, typescripts
of speeches and reviews, artworks, photographs, clippings and other publicity materials,
programs, and printed materials. Correspondence in this series is a mix of personal
letters dating from her student years at Oxford in the 1980s to the 2010s, business
correspondence, and fan mail from readers. Selected correspondence is indexed at the
end of this finding aid. Notable correspondents include writers Jonathan Coe, Larry
McMurtry, and Helen Dunmore, and former Labour Party politician David Miliband.
||More than a dozen notebooks kept by Cusk document ideas jotted down during her writing
process, preparations for her fiction writing classes, and the minutiae of daily domestic
life. Where notebooks appear to contain notes for specific works, such as Arlington Park, Kudos, and Outline, it is noted in the description in the container list; these notebooks are not filed
with other materials for those titles in the Works series, because the majority of
notes relate to other subjects. Many of the notebooks primarily consist of notes related
to Cusk’s fiction writing classes at Kingston University and other schools. They are
filed together under the heading "Teaching notes." Two of the notebooks are journals Cusk kept while travelling abroad to Italy and
Turkey as a student in the 1980s. They contain written entries describing her travels,
sketches of locations she visited, and various printed materials glued on to the page.
||Among the personal materials in this series are artworks given as birthday presents
by Cusk’s daughter, expired passports, and the ultrasound images and hospital discharge
report from the birth of Cusk’s older daughter Albertine. Therapy notes written in
the form of an informal letter from Cusk’s therapist provide an unusual degree of
insight into how Cusk views her relationship with her parents and other family members;
they expand on remarks made by Cusk about her upbringing in interviews with the New Yorker and other publications.
||A group of materials described in the finding aid as 'Post' were originally housed in an olive green storage box with a metal clamp labeled with
that title. These materials have been filed in their original order within the box.
As the label 'Post' suggests, most of the materials in the box consist of correspondence and printed
materials received in the mail; however, the box also contained clippings; photographs;
publicity materials related to Cusk’s second novel The Temporary; and typescripts of speeches, reviews, and brief essays. The bulk of the materials
date from 1995 to 1996 (with a small selection of items dating from 2007 to 2009).
They provide a glimpse into Cusk’s professional activities at that time, including
correspondence with her agent, participation in awards ceremonies and other events,
publicity activities including a BBC interview, and solicitations for articles and
reviews in various publications. The materials from this box have been treated for
mold contamination; patrons with sensitivity to mold may wish to wear gloves and/or
a mask while handling these items.