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The HRC David Foster Wallace Archive

One day I'll travel from here in Australia to the archive and study what I can. I'm not alone in not being able to get there right now, so until that time comes this collection of links, articles and scans will have to do.

The Harry Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin, has acquired the archive of writer David Foster Wallace (1962-2008), author of "Infinite Jest" (1996), "The Broom of the System" (1987), "Girl with Curious Hair" (1988) and numerous collections of stories and essays.

The archive contains manuscript materials for Wallace's books, stories and essays; research materials; Wallace's college and graduate school writings; juvenilia, including poems, stories and letters; teaching materials and books.

Highlights include handwritten notes and drafts of his critically acclaimed "Infinite Jest," the earliest appearance of his signature "David Foster Wallace" on "Viking Poem," written when he was six or seven years old, a copy of his dictionary with words circled throughout and his heavily annotated books by Don DeLillo, Cormac McCarthy, John Updike and more than 40 other authors.

Materials for Wallace's posthumous novel "The Pale King" are included in the archive but will remain with Little, Brown and Company until the book's publication, scheduled for April 2011.

Before we begin - Important Clarification

We've run a few pieces here at The Howling Fantods about some of the changes made to the David Foster Wallace archive at the Harry Ransom Center. After an email conversation with Bonnie Nadell, Wallace's literary agent, it's important to clarify what has changed so we can understand the context and reasoning for why these decisions were made.
Over to Bonnie Nadell (reproduced with her permission):
Karen and I went to see the archives for the first time in July. In those first months after David died, the Ransom Center had approached us about buying the archives; Karen had to get out of the house where she and David lived in Claremont and in the craziness of grief and the mess of packing up the books into boxes to send to the archives, we made some mistakes. We found out there were books included that David had bought at garage sales or were given to him with writing in them so scholars in the archives might think they were reading David's thoughts/critiques on Mill on the Floss and they were actually some stranger's. Those books got taken out of the library or now have notes on them with an explanation. There were others that had people's cell phone numbers and home addresses that David had written in books so now the personal information is covered over or those pages copied and removed. And yes we did decide to restrict some of the self help books that were pored over and written about on the Awl. As some people have realized, these were really personal comments about family members (written years ago) and are private. Having a person's library with paperback books and writing in them as part of an archive is a new thing really and we did not realize how much personal and private information was in them. For the peace of mind and privacy of David's family these things are now restricted. It's a matter of privacy, to me. These are not public figures, their lives are not meant to be discussed on the internet.

Thanks, Bonnie.

Articles about the DFW Archive from the Harry Ransom Center:

Ransom Center Finding Aids:


Article's about, or inspired by, the DFW Archive from around the web:


Consider the Archive: An Evening of David Foster Wallace, September 14 2010:

The Harry Ransom Center commemorated the opening of the David Foster Wallace archive with readings of Wallace's work by writers and actors on September 14, 2010. Readers include Wayne Alan Brenner, Elizabeth Crane, L. B. Deyo, Doug Dorst, Owen Egerton, Chris Gibson, Kurt Hildebrand, Shannon McCormick and Jake Silverstein shared selections of Wallace's fiction, essays, and correspondence.

Watch an evening with David Foster Wallace.


The David Foster Wallace Symposium, April 5-6 2012:

Ransom Center Page and Program here.

Official videos from the live webcast:

1. "Everything and More: A Conversation About David Foster Wallace." Literary agent Bonnie Nadell and Little, Brown editor Michael Pietsch spoke with Los Angeles Times book critic David Ulin about their work with David Foster Wallace.

2. "A Life through the Archive." Cultural critic and reporter Seth Colter Walls and D.T. Max, staff writer for The New Yorker, spoke with writer and historian Douglas Brinkley about the life and work of David Foster Wallace through his archive. Wallace's archive is housed at the Ransom Center.

3. "Writers on Wallace." Authors Elizabeth Crane and Amanda Eyre Ward spoke with Little, Brown editor Michael Pietsch about their connections with David Foster Wallace and his work.

4. "Editors on Wallace." Editors Colin Harrison, Bill Tonelli, and Deborah Treisman spoke about their involvement with David Foster Wallace's work with Wallace's literary agent Bonnie Nadell.





Special thanks to Thorsten for helping me get this page off the ground (he's done some groundwork for a sub-section I'm yet to integrate) and Matt for some extra resources.

Last Updated on Saturday, 17 May 2014 14:14  

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