William Styron papers, 1855-2019
Using These Materials
- Access restricted. Some materials in the Correspondence series (Box C15) are restricted. Access note. Collection contains some audiovisual formats that may need to be reformatted before use. ...
- Styron, William, 1925-2006
- American author and Duke University alumnus. The William Styron Papers span the years 1855-2019, with the bulk of the papers being dated between 1943 and 1996. The collection consists of correspondence; writings by Styron and other authors; printed materials (including serials containing articles by and about Styron and his work as well as newspaper and magazine clippings); audiotapes, videotapes, and photographs; legal and financial papers; speeches and addresses; interviews; scrapbooks; and other material relating to Styron's personal life and his career as a writer. Extensive personal and professional correspondence between his family, friends, and fellow authors provides insight into his education at Duke University (particularly his studies with Professor William Blackburn of the Department of English) as well as his literary career and personal life.
30.2 Linear Feet
- Collection ID:
- Scope and Content:
The William Styron Papers span the years 1855-2019 with the bulk of the papers being dated between 1943 and 1996. The collection is arranged into the following series: Correspondence, Writings by Styron (which includes Separate Publications, Contributions to Books and Periodicals, Speeches, Unfinished Work, and Miscellaneous Writings), Writings by Others, Printed Material, Audiovisual Material, Scrapbooks, and Miscellaneous Material. Extensive personal and professional correspondence between Styron and his family, friends, editors, and fellow authors provides insight into his education at Duke University (particularly his studies with Professor William Blackburn of the Department of English) as well as his literary career and personal life. The Writings by Styron Series includes numerous drafts, notes, manuscripts, and proofs of his novels, essays, speeches, and articles. Critical and analytical works concerning Styron's writing can be found in both the Printed Material Series and the Writings by Others Series. Interviews with Styron are to be found in both the Interviews section of the Writings by Others Series and in the Audiovisual Material Series.
Numerous American authors are represented in the collection in the Correspondence Series as well as in the Writings by Others Series. Among the major correspondents are Robert Penn Warren, Carlos Fuentes, Norman Mailer, and Reynolds Price. Letters from Eudora Welty, Truman Capote, Art Buchwald, Richard Wilbur, Kurt Vonnegut, William Kennedy, and James Dickey are also included. A separate index to some of the letters by well-known authors and celebrities accompanies the collection. The Writings by Others Series also includes limited edition copies of poems by Reynolds Price and Allen Tate.
Styron's close relationship with his family is documented in the early letters of the Correspondence Series as well as in the scrapbooks kept by his father. The latter include much juvenilia and childhood memorabilia as well as clippings documenting his early literary accomplishments. A diary kept by Styron during the year following his mother's death appears in the Writings by Styron Series: Miscellaneous Writings Subseries. The Audiovisual Material Series includes several family photographs. Videotapes in this series also provide much information about his life and work.
Among the Writings by Styron are numerous holograph notes, manuscripts written in pencil, and printed texts and typescripts with revisions. These provide detailed insight into Styron's creative process and enable the researcher to document the evolution of much of Styron's work. Research material used by Styron for some of his work, particularly The Confessions of Nat Turner, appears among the volumes in the Printed Material Series.
Styron's experience with having his work filmed for both television and the cinema is documented by screenplays of The Long March and Sophie's Choice. Several photographs of the latter production appear in the Audiovisual Material Series. A screenplay of Set This House on Fire, a first draft of a screenplay of Lie Down in Darkness, and a step outline of The Confessions of Nat Turner, none of which were produced, also appear in the Writings by Others Series
Unprocessed addition (06-105) (0.4 lin. ft) contains Styron's copy of The Confessions of Nat Turner and a binder of letters from Styron to Bertha Krantz, Robert D. Loomis, and others, 1967-1993.
Unprocessed addition (07-145) (6 items, 0.1 lin. ft.; dated 2007) contains copies of material from Styron's memorial service, including the program, book of reminiscences, and transcript. This material is boxed in box 1 of 08-142.
Unprocessed addition (08-012) (0.8 lin. ft.; 600 items; dated 1943-2006 and undated) includes published and unpublished essays, drafts, speeches, and writings by Styron, as well as copies of letters to his father (1943-1952) and correspondence from his wife, Rose, from around the time of his death in 2006. Also includes a leather portfolio with drafts of his work, photographs, clippings, and a photograph album from his daughter's film, Shadrach.
Unprocessed addition (08-072) (180 items, .6 lin. ft.; dated 1990-2003 and undated) comprises mainly letters to Styron regarding his works, especially DARKNESS VISIBLE. Also includes letters regarding appearances requested or planned.
Unprocessed addition (08-142) (388 items, .8 lin. ft; dated 1966-2007 and undated) mainly comprises incoming correspondence, which occasionally contains clippings, photographs, and other incidental materials. In addition, includes original manuscripts for several short works by the author, many annotated, as well as some handwritten manuscript pages for SOPHIE'S CHOICE. There are also two dvds of Styron's memorial service. Box 1 of this material includes Acc. 07-145.
Unprocessed addition (08-294) (0.4 lin. ft.; 300 items) was acquired and donated by James West III, and includes manuscripts, essays, edited drafts, and speeches by Styron. Each manuscript includes a cover page by West describing the condition of the materials. This material is boxed with Acc. 08/012.
Addition (11-142) (0.6 lin. ft.; 500 items) was donated by Styron's editor, Robert Loomis. It includes drafts and clippings, as well as photographs used in Styron publications.
Additions (12-017 and 12-131) (1.2 lin. ft.; 500 items) includes various writings and research.
Addition (13-017) contains original blocks used to create advertisements for William Styron's novel The Confessions of Nat Turner.
Addition (15-030) contains correspondence with Thomas P. Peyton and Peyton's family, 1944-2002.
Addition (16-025) comprises 27 items, mainly letters and notes from Styron to Carl Mahakian. There is also an autographed photograph, and three letters to Mahakian from Jim West, who requests help with his biography of Styron. In addition, there is an invitation to Mahakian to attend Styron's private memorial service and several published obituaries, along with a Spanish translation of Darkness Visible and a Book-of-the-Month Club flyer for The Confessions of Nat Turner. Material is dated 1969-2007.
Addition (19-0014) contains 35mm documentary slides donated by Joel Foreman.
- Biographical / Historical:
Date Event 1925, June 11 Born to William Clark Styron and Pauline (Abraham) Styron, in Newport News, Va. 1942 Attended Davidson College 1943 Enlisted in Marine Corps in V-12 program Transferred to Duke University 1944-1945 Served as lieutenant in the Marine Corps 1947 Associate editor with McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York, N.Y. Received A.B. from Duke University Moved to New York City and studied writing with Hiram Haydn at the New School for Social Research 1952 Received American Academy of Arts and Letters Prix de Rome for Lie Down in Darkness (1951) 1953, May 4 Married Rose Burgunder 1960 Published the novel, Set this House on Fire 1968 Received Pulitzer Prize for The Confessions of Nat Turner (1967) 1970 Received Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters for The Confessions of Nat Turner 1979 Publication of Sophie's Choice 1980 Received the American Book Award and nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award, both for Sophie's Choice 1984 Received Connecticut Arts Award and Duke University's Distinguished Alumni Award Appointed a fellow of Silliman College of Yale University 1985 Received the Prix Mondial del Duca 1987 Received the Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres 1988 Received Edward MacDowell Medal 1990 Publication of Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness, a narrative recalling the major depression Styron suffered beginning in 1985 2006 November Died at the age of 81 in Martha's Vineyard
- Acquisition Information:
- The main body of the papers of William Styron was acquired from William Styron between 1969 and 1997. Small portions of the collection were donated by others or purchased between 1970 and 2019. All of Accession 2008-0072 and parts of Accession 2008-0294 remain on deposit. Accession 2017-0068 is a gift of Linda McGrew. Accession 2019-0014 is a gift of Joel Foreman. Accession 2019-0129 is a gift of James L. W. West III. Accession 2019-0153 is a gift of Judith Ruderman.
- Processing information:
Processed by Melissa Delbridge, Joann Kleinneiur, and Debbera Carson
Completed November 17, 1998
Encoded by Don Sechler
Updated by Jill Katte, December 2006
Updated by Meghan Lyon, July 2009
Updated by Alice Poffinberger, August 2010
Updated by Meghan Lyon, July 2011 and August 2012
Updated by Alice Poffinberger to include interfiled correspondence from accession 2014-0119, July 2014
Updated by Alice Poffinberger to include accession 2016-0025, February 2016.
Updated by Laurin Penland to include: accession 2017-0068, May 2017; accession 2019-0014, April 2019; 2019-0129, October 2019; and accesion 2019-0153 November 2019.
Updated to include accession 2022-0181 by Tracy Jackson, December 2022.
- Rules or Conventions:
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Click on terms below to find related finding aids on this site. For other related materials in the Duke University Libraries, search for these terms in the Catalog.
American literature -- 20th century
Duke University. Dept. of English -- History
Authors, American -- 20th century
Authors, American -- 20th century -- Correspondence
Styron, William, 1925-2006
Warren, Robert Penn, 1905-
Styron, William, 1925-2006 -- Biography
Blackburn, William, 1899-1972
Using These Materials
Access restricted. Some materials in the Correspondence series (Box C15) are restricted.
Access note. Collection contains some audiovisual formats that may need to be reformatted before use. Contact Research Services for access.
- USE & PERMISSIONS:
The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
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- PREFERRED CITATION:
[Identification of item], William Styron Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.