Samuel Selvon Papers 1946-1975


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Samuel Selvon Papers 1946-1975

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General notes

The Samuel Selvon Papers consist of original holograph manuscripts, original and carbon copy typescripts, book proofs, manuscript notebooks, correspondence, and a cash book, ranging in date from 1946 to 1975. The material is arranged in three series: I. Works, 1958-75 (1.5 boxes), II. Correspondence, 1946-74 (4 folders), and III. Personal, 1965-67 (one folder). The Papers offer an overview of Selvon's writing process, with an emphasis on his published novels. Drafts for six of his eleven novels are present, along with supporting correspondence and items relating to his career. No materials relating to Selvon's personal life are present.

Content notes

Series I, arranged alphabetically by title, consists of holograph manuscripts, original and carbon typescripts, book proofs, and notebooks for six novels by Selvon-- The Housing Lark (1965), I Hear Thunder (1963), Moses Ascending (1975), The Plains of Caroni (1970), Those Who Eat the Cascadura (1972), and Turn Again Tiger (1958). A few titles are represented by completed typescripts only, marked with minor holograph revisions and printer's marks. However, early manuscript drafts of novels such as Those Who Eat the Cascadura and Moses Ascending, initially written in a manuscript notebook, are present. Of particular note is the way these notebooks document Selvon's writing technique--first holograph drafts were written from front to back on the right-hand side of a notebook, and subsequent drafts were written from back to front on the left-hand side of the notebooks. These notebooks also contain additional drafts of radio and television plays, and an untitled, unpublished novel. An additional working notebook contains early fragments of Moses Ascending, and drafts of radio and television plays that were produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation; a note attached to the front of the notebook by Selvon lists the titles and dates of each work.
Series II contains correspondence from publishers, broadcasting companies, literary agents, periodicals, students, and other authors, arranged alphabetically. There is only one outgoing piece of correspondence in the collection--a cablegram from Selvon to his English publisher, R. G. Davis-Poynter. The most comprehensive correspondence in Series II follows Selvon's association with the British Broadcasting Corporation over ten years, and contains letters referring to current projects, suggesting story ideas, and telling him of recent broadcasts of his work. Also of significance are letters from Marion Saunders, Selvon's literary agent. Her eight letters from 1952 to 1957 trace the process of finding publishers and American magazines for Selvon's early novels and short stories. Correspondence from West Indian authors such as Garth St. Omer and John J. Figueroa is also present.
Series III consists of a cashbook listing Selvon's travel expenses to research background information for upcoming novels, short stories, and radio/television plays.



2.5 boxes (1.04 linear feet)


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