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University of Texas at Austin

Jayne Anne Phillips:

An Inventory of Her Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Phillips, Jayne Anne, 1952-
Title: Jayne Anne Phillips Papers
Dates: 1911-2007
Extent: 59 document boxes (25.2 linear feet), 4 serial boxes, 3 oversize boxes (osb), 3 oversize folders (osf), 1 galley folder (gf), and 4 electronic files (50.5 KB)
Abstract: The papers of American writer and educator Jayne Anne Phillips include drafts, correspondence, research, photographs, publishing material, and press material relating to her novels, short stories, and poems. Personal correspondence, family papers, family photographs, teaching material, and other personal and career related materials are also present, as are manuscripts by poets and writers Linda Bohe, Frank Conroy, Richard Currey, E. L. Doctorow, Nadine Gordimer, Annabel Levitt, and Irene McKinney, among others.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-5149
Language: English, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish, and Swedish
Access: Open for research. To request access to electronic files, please email Reference.
Restrictions on Use: Certain restrictions apply to the use of electronic files. Researchers must agree to the Materials Use Policy for Electronic Files before accessing them. Original computer disks and forensic disk images are restricted. Copying electronic files, including screenshots and printouts, is not permitted.

Administrative Information

Acquisition: Purchase, 2009 (09-05-014-P)
Processed by: Katherine Mosley, 2012 Born digital materials processed, arranged, and described by Chance Adams and Brenna Edwards, 2015-2022.

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Jayne Anne Phillips was born on July 19, 1952, in the small town of Buckhannon, West Virginia, and lived there until she left to attend West Virginia University in Morgantown in 1970. She was the middle child and only daughter of Russell Randolph Phillips (a contractor) and Martha Jane Thornhill Phillips (a teacher), who divorced in 1972. Phillips's family history and the Appalachian region figure prominently in her work.
Phillips became interested in writing as a child and wrote poetry as a teenager. While an undergraduate, she used poetry therapy in her volunteer work for a program that provided tutoring for low-income children in mining camps, and she also worked as an assistant teacher of creative writing in the Poets in Schools program in northern West Virginia. After receiving her B.A. in English from West Virginia University in 1974, Phillips travelled with a friend to California, hitchhiking and working at temporary jobs. For a brief time, she resided in Boulder, Colorado, before returning home and working as a Title I teacher for the Upshur County Board of Education. During this time, she continued writing poems, which evolved into what she termed "short fictions." A collection of these, Sweethearts, was published by Truck Press in 1976 and won a Fels Award; several of the pieces were then published in the 1977 edition of Pushcart Prize Stories and brought her additional recognition, including a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship grant. Phillips was accepted into the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1976 and earned an M.F.A. with Distinction in 1978. At that time, a second edition of Sweethearts was released, and another collection of sequential short fictions, Counting, was published by Vehicle Editions and won the St. Lawrence Award. Phillips also began teaching at Humboldt State College in California in 1978. She had previously worked as a tutor while an undergraduate and at the University of Colorado, and as a teaching assistant while attending The University of Iowa.
In 1979, Phillips met publisher Seymour "Sam" Lawrence of Delacorte Press while attending the St. Lawrence Writers Conference, and he published her short story collection Black Tickets that year. The book received critical acclaim and was awarded the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters' Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction. Phillips accepted a writing fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, in 1979; was a Bunting Fellow at Radcliffe College from 1980 to 1981; taught at Williams College in 1981; and became an associate professor of English at Boston University in 1982.
Phillips's first novel, Machine Dreams, which fictionalized her family history against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, was published in 1984 and became a best seller. She then received her second National Endowment for the Arts fellowship grant. Phillips married cardiologist Mark Stockman on May 26, 1985; he had two sons, Ben and Noah, from a previous marriage. Phillips and Stockman had two additional sons, Theo Thornhill Stockman, born December 27, 1984, and Soren Phillips Stockman, born July 4, 1988.
Another short story collection, Fast Lanes, was published in 1987. Phillips was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship in 1988, and she taught at Harvard University in 1992, 1995, and 1996. Her second novel, Shelter, about the loss of innocence experienced by girls at a summer camp, appeared in 1994. Sam Lawrence, who had remained Phillips's editor-publisher and whom she called the "benefactor" of her writing life, had died earlier that year. Phillips's parents had both died of cancer, and the three losses had a profound impact on her.
In 1996, Phillips was appointed "Writer in Residence" at Brandeis University. She received an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1997 and had her third novel, MotherKind, published in 2000. The novel reflects Phillips's experiences as a caregiver to her terminally ill mother while having her first child, marrying, and becoming a stepmother. In 2007, Phillips developed and became director of a new MFA program in Creative Writing for Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. Her fourth novel, Lark and Termite, was published in 2009 and was a finalist for the National Book Award in fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Phillips's work has been translated into 12 languages and published in numerous periodicals and anthologies.


In addition to material found within the Jayne Anne Phillips Papers, the following sources were used:
Brosi, George. "Jayne Anne Phillips,"  Appalachian Heritage, vol. 37, no. 1, Winter 2009.
"Jayne Anne Phillips." Contemporary Authors Online, (accessed 9 September 2011).
"Jayne Anne Phillips: American Writer." Jayne Anne Phillips's website, (accessed 9 September 2011).

Scope and Contents

The papers of American writer and educator Jayne Anne Phillips consist of manuscript drafts, notes, notebooks, research material, correspondence, photographs, proofs, dust jackets, advertisements, broadsides, agreements and contracts, royalty statements, review and other clippings, tearsheets, press releases, itineraries, teaching material, resumes, legal documents, family papers, awards, diplomas, and ephemera. The materials date primarily from 1976 to 2007 and are organized in six series: Series I. Works (1911-2007, 31.5 boxes); II. Publisher and Press Materials (1976-2005, 6 boxes); III. Correspondence (1969-2006, 9 boxes); IV. Personal and Career-Related (1910-2007, 8 boxes); V. Works by Others, 1968-2003, 3.5 boxes); and VI. Serial Publications (1945-2005, 5 boxes).
The Works series has been subdivided into two subseries pertaining to Phillips's writings: A. Novels, and B. Short Works and Collections. Subseries A. Novels is arranged alphabetically by title and includes research material, notes, handwritten and typescript drafts, and proofs relating to Phillips's four novels: Lark and Termite (2009), Machine Dreams (1984), MotherKind (2000), and Shelter (1994). Many of the novel drafts have annotations by Ivy Goodman, Pamela Rikkers, and others from whom Phillips requested feedback. Of particular note, numerous fragments and drafts of Lark and Termite reflect the substantial changes Phillips made as she worked on the novel over the course of several years. Phillips's first novel, Machine Dreams, was originally an extension of her short stories and was to be titled Home. Early drafts, some in notebooks, show the author's original use of themes and characters from Black Tickets and Sweethearts. Phillips's plans for the book as a continuation of the themes of family relationships, the power of a place (West Virginia), and leaving and returning home are outlined in her application for a Guggenheim fellowship. The book was drawn from Phillips's family history, using family photographs, letters, and her parents' memories as sources, and her research material is present. Also of note among Machine Dreams materials are drafts and correspondence regarding an unproduced screenplay adaptation by Jessica Lange, with Phillips's comments upon the drafts. Research material relating to Motherkind, which also drew upon the author's personal history, includes her childhood photographs and her mother's medical reports. Drafts of Shelter document the major changes made to its characters and their relationships to one another as the author revised the work over time.
Subseries B. Short Works and Collections includes material relating to Phillips's poetry, short fictions, short stories, essays, reviews, lectures, and contributions to works by other authors and editors. It is arranged alphabetically by title, with additional entries for Miscellaneous short works and Notebooks. Miscellaneous short works are folders of various poems, one page prose pieces, short stories, essays, and dream recollections; the author's original folder titles have been maintained and are indicated by single quotation marks. Notebooks date from 1977 to 1979 and contain early drafts of poems and short stories, as well as dreams and journal entries. Early workings of Machine Dreams, originally titled Home, are present in both Miscellaneous short works and Notebooks. Phillips's collections Black Tickets and Fast Lanes (1987 edition) are represented by typesetting manuscripts and proofs; in addition, a story structure diagram and typescript draft of Black Tickets are present. Individual stories are also located under their titles as well as in the Miscellaneous short works and Notebooks. Neither Counting and Sweethearts is present as a collected work, but drafts of individual pieces are scattered through the Miscellaneous folders. An index of works provided at the end of this finding aid identifies all locations of a particular work.
Series II. Publisher and Press Materials is comprised of Jayne Anne Phillips's files of material relating to the publication and promotion of her books in the United States and other countries. The author's original folder titles are maintained when present and are indicated by single quotation marks. Included are publisher and literary agent correspondence, agreements and contracts, dust jacket proofs, advertising flyers, catalogs, press releases, itineraries, review and interview clippings, and royalty statements. Of particular note in a 'Germany' file are correspondence and clippings related to Phillips's change of German publishers from S. Fischer Verlag to Berlin Verlag.
Series III. Correspondence consists primarily of incoming correspondence. Phillips's groupings of letters have been maintained, and her original folder titles are indicated by single quotation marks. Notable correspondents include Rosellen Brown, Frederick Busch, Frank Conroy, Richard Currey, E. L. Doctorow, Maria Flook, Ivy Goodman, Jaimy Gordon, Nadine Gordimer, Anne Hull, John Irving, Anita Ruthling Klaussen, Jessica Lange, Seymour Lawrence, Judy Linsky, Dennis Mathis, Sharon Mattlin, Jill McCorkle, Ian McEwan, Irene McKinney, Lynn Nesbit, Michael Ondaatje, Tillie Olsen, Martha Jane Phillips, Russell Randolph Phillips, John Pijewski, Judith Stitzel, Eris Wagner, Jeffrey Cyphers Wright, and Nicolette Yeazell. Extensive correspondence with David Wilk of Truck Press chronicles the publication of Sweethearts; similar but more limited correspondence with Annabel Levitt of Vehicle Editions relates to the publication of Counting and Fast Lanes. Correspondence with Sam Lawrence traces the publication history of Phillips's books and includes royalty reports and similar material. Nicolette Yeazell was the inspiration for the title character in "Rayme," and her letters reference that. Many correspondents, such as Richard Currey, Sharon Mattlin, Irene McKinney, Jeffrey Cyphers Wright, and others, enclosed manuscripts of their poetry and other works; these remain with the letters and are indicated in the index of works at this end of this finding aid.
Series IV. Personal and Career-Related material includes awards and honors, Phillips's baby book, photographs, school records, teaching materials, and similar items. Materials relating to Sam Lawrence and the author's parents, Martha Jane Thornhill Phillips and Russell Randolph Phillips, are also present; of particular note among her parents' papers are letters written from Jayne Anne Phillips to them from 1974 to 1985. A folder of photographs, correspondence, clippings, and ephemera dating from 1945-2003 may reveal items which were significant to the author as she wrote, as many have pushpin holes as though they had been pinned up on a wall or bulletin board.
Series V. Works by Others is subdivided into two subseries. Subseries A. About Phillips and Her Works includes works written by other authors about Phillips and her writings. Among these are Sarah Robertson's doctoral thesis on Phillips, The Secret Country: Jayne Anne Phillips and the Cryptic Evocation of a Region, which became The Secret Country: Decoding Jayne Anne Phillips's Cryptic Fiction, the first monograph published on Phillips's work. Subseries B. Other is comprised of manuscripts by Elisa Albert, Linda Bohe, Frank Conroy, E. L. Doctorow, Maria Flook, Sidney Goldfarb, Nadine Gordimer, Annabel Levitt, Dennis Mathis, Richard McCann, John Pijewski, and others, all arranged alphabetically by author. In addition, typescripts by Irene McKinney are located in a file titled 'Copies' along with tearsheets and printed excerpts of works by various authors, possibly used in Phillips's teaching or lectures. Of particular note among works in Subseries B are typescript fragments, some with revisions, of E. L. Doctorow's Billy Bathgate, City of God, and Reporting the Universe, as well as a complete revised typescript of City of God. Nadine Gordimer's screenplay adaptation of her short story "A Chip of Glass Ruby" is represented by a copy of the published short story and several stages of drafts of the screenplay, accompanied by a letter explaining her adaptation methods. All works by other authors are indicated in the index of works provided at the end of this finding aid.
Series VI. Serial Publications consists of whole issues of periodicals containing works by Phillips, interviews with her, articles about her, or reviews of her work, as well as publications Phillips used as research when writing. Arrangement is alphabetical by serial title, and the significance of each is noted within brackets.

Related Material

The following Ransom Center collections also contain materials related to Jayne Anne Phillips:
  • Hare, David
  • O'Brien, Tim
Other institutions with Jayne Anne Phillips materials include:
  • State University of New York at Buffalo. Poetry Collection. Truck Collection, 1970-1979.
  • University of Mississippi. Department of Archives and Special Collections. Seymour Lawrence Collection.

Separated Material

Eight bound volumes, including research material, and two audio cassettes were transferred to the Ransom Center Library:
  • American Audio Prose Library, Inc. Presents an Interview with Jayne Anne Phillips, 1991
  • American Audio Prose Library, Inc. Presents Jayne Anne Phillips Reading Machine Dreams (excerpts) "Souvenir" (short story), 1991
  • Burton, Anthony. Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1993.
  • Haga, Pauline. Tribute to the Police Officer, volume one. Crab Orchard, West Virginia: Pauline Haga, 1993.
  • Hook, Jason. Days That Shook the World: Hiroshima. London: Hodder Wayland, 2002.
  • Howe, James. Babes in Toyland. Orlando, Florida: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, 1986.
  • Lawrence, Seymour. Selections from Houghton Mifflin/Seymour Lawrence, Spring 1989. [inscribed to Phillips]
  • Railroad Story Book: A Thousand Miles by Rail [reproduction of an original edition]. New York: Merrimack Publishing Corp., 1992.
  • Reynoldson, Fiona. The Victorians: Victorian Women Abroad. Essex, England: Longman Group Ltd., 1994.
  • Thayil, Jeet. Apocalypso. London: Aark Arts, 1997. [inscribed to Phillips]
Thirteen audio CDs were transferred to the Ransom Center Sound Recordings Collection:
  • In Their Own Country: Fourteen Entertaining Visits with Fourteen of West Virginia's Most Celebrated Writers, West Virginia Library Commission, 2003 (twelve discs)
  • Interview with J. A. Phillips. Marshfield, MA.: Talking Information Center, undated
Twenty-six audio cassette tapes were transferred to the Ransom Center Sound Recordings Collection:
  • All Things Considered, [Alan] Cheuse – Christmas Books, 13 December 1994
  • Author Panel: Wakefield, Bernays, Tilghman, Phillips, Cheuse, 1991 (2 cassettes)
  • Book Beat: Jayne Anne Phillips with Don Swaim (WCBS/CBS Radio), 21 May 1985
  • "Dickens' A Christmas Carol, with Lionel Barrymore as Scrooge"
  • Essay on the topic of "Obsession" read at the annual PEN/Faulkner Gala Evening at Folger Shakespeare Library, 4 October 4 1993
  • Harjo, Joy. "The Woman Who Fell from the Sky," 1994
  • Harjo, Joy and Poetic Justice. "She Had Some Horses, For Anna Mae, My House Is the Red Earth, Promise," 1992
  • "Heavenly Animal," undated
  • "Jayne Anne Phillips," undated
  • "Jayne Anne Phillips (unedited) and Tim O'Brien The Things They Carried"
  • "[Jayne Anne] Phillips, [Sara] Vogeler, [Annabel] Levett, Meier, [Linda] Bohe"
  • "Jayne Anne Phillips interview with Ron Diamondstein, Calliope, KALX-FM, Berkeley, 10 October 1994"
  • "Jayne Anne Phillips Sewanee [?] '79"
  • "Jayne Phillips," WNYC, 20 September 1994
  • "Lines – Jayne Anne Phillips," 9 February 1984
  • "A Moveable Feast, NPR feature Machine Dreams" [Jayne Anne Phillips reads from Machine Dreams and talks about the relation between Americans and machines with series host Tom Vitale], 5 September 1984
  • New Letters on the Air: Jayne Anne Phillips, 1989
  • "Public Radio Book Show with Jayne Anne Philips"
  • Pulkkinen, J. P. (Juha Pekka). Timanttien Jäljillä [Tracing the Diamonds], 24 October 1995
  • Rehm, Diane. "Phillips's MotherKind," May 2000
  • "Studs Terkel with Jayne Anne Phillips," 27 September 1994
  • "Sun Valley Writers' Conference: A Conversation with Jayne Anne Phillips and Anne Taylor Fleming," 25-28 August 2000
  • Three for the Road [BBC Radio 4]: 1. "Fast Lanes," 2. "A New-Wave Format" [by Bobbie Ann Mason], 3. "Rock Springs" by Richard Ford [adaptations by John Harvey] (2 cassettes)
  • To the Best of Our Knowledge: Jane [sic] Anne Phillips MotherKind
A computer disk labeled 'Random House Shelter barcode and logos' was transferred to the Ransom Center Electronic Records Collection.
A large painted portrait was transferred to the Ransom Center Art Collection.
A flower press and a transistor radio were transferred to the Ransom Center's Personal Effects Collection.

Index Terms


Bohe, Linda.
Conroy, Frank, 1936-2005.
Currey, Richard, 1949- .
Doctorow, E. L., 1931- .
Gordimer, Nadine.
Lawrence, Seymour.
Lee, Annabel Levitt.
McKinney, Irene.
Phillips, Jayne Anne, 1952- .
Wilk, David, 1951- .


Truck Press.


American literature--West Virginia.
American fiction--women authors.
Authors, American--20th century.
Authors, American--West Virginia.
Korean War, 1950-1953--Fiction.
Literature--20th century.
Mothers and daughters--Fiction.
Novelists, American--20th century.
Poets, American--20th century.
Short stories, American--20th century.
Short stories, American--Women authors.
Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Fiction.
West Virginia--Fiction.
Women poets, American--20th century.

Document Types

Baby books.
Birth certificates.
Book reviews.
Divorce records.
Electronic records.
Greeting cards.
Medical records.
Page proofs.
Serials (publications).
Short stories.
Sound recordings.

Container List