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A Guide to the Bill Wittliff Papers, 1968-1995

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Wittliff, William D.
Title: Bill Wittliff Papers
Dates: 1968-1995
Abstract: The Bill Wittliff papers document the book publishing, photography, and screenwriting and filmmaking aspects of Mr. Wittliff’s various professional and personal pursuits, ranging in date from 1968-1995, and including the following formats: correspondence, typescript drafts, bibliographies, woodcut blocks, illustrations, photographs, screenplay drafts, film storyboards and other production materials. See series descriptions for more detailed information.
Extent: 517 boxes total (498 linear feet)
Language: Materials are written in English.
Repository: Southwestern Writers Collection, Special Collections, Alkek Library, Texas State University-San Marcos

Biographical Note

Bill Wittliff was born in Taft, a small town in south Texas, in 1940. After his parents divorced, he and his brother Jim moved with their mother to Gregory, Texas, where Mrs. Wittliff ran a small telephone office during World War II (these experiences provided the basis for "Raggedy Man," Wittliff's feature film). Later, when his mother remarried, the family moved to a ranch in Blanco, a rural community of 700 in the hill country of central Texas.

In 1964, shortly after graduating from the University of Texas, Wittliff, with his wife Sally, founded a book publishing company, The Encino Press, which specialized in regional material about Texas and the Southwest. To date, Encino has won over 100 awards for quality of design and content. The press operated out of a 19th-century Victorian house in Austin in which O. Henry once lived and wrote.

An accomplished photographer, Wittliff's photographs documenting the life of the Mexican vaquero (taken 1969-71) have been exhibited in numerous galleries and institutions throughout this country and in Mexico, including the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, and the Texas Capitol. In Japan, they represented the United States during its bicentennial year. After twenty years, the exhibit is still shown as a traveling display in the U. S. and Mexico under the auspices of the Institute of Texan Cultures.

At 29, Wittliff was elected to the Texas Institute of Letters. He served as president during 1974-78, and sat on the Executive Council until 1990. In 1993, he was elected Fellow of the the Institute. He is a member of the historic Texas Philosophical Society, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; and he served for six years on the Executive Board of Trustees of Robert Redford's Sundance Institute.

In 1985, with the donation of their lifelong collection of original manuscripts and books, Bill and Sally founded the Southwestern Writers Collection at Southwest Texas State University. Since that time the collection has grown rapidly, supported by donors from all over the country. It features original manuscripts by J. Frank Dobie, John Graves, Larry McMurtry, Walter Prescott Webb, Bud Shrake, Larry L. King, Horton Foote, Preston Jones, Sam Shepard, Willie Nelson, and many others. It also includes paintings by numerous regional artists including William Lester, Tom Lea, John Groth, Jerry Bywaters, Kermit Oliver, Robert Wade. Expanding the scope of the current facility, in 1996 the Wittliffs endowed the Wittliff Gallery of Southwestern and Mexican Photography which already includes works by Russell Lee, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Ansel Adams, Keith Carter, Henri Cartier Bresson, Lola Bravo, Laura Gilpin, Edward Weston, Graciela Iturbide, Edward Curtis, Nacho Lopez, Erwin E. Smith, Marco Antonio Cruz, Jim Bones, Paul Strand, Mariana Yampolsky, and many others. Both collections are housed in eight specially designed rooms and a large, chambered gallery on the top floor of the Albert B. Alkek Library on the university campus.

The Wittliffs have two grown children and live in Austin, Texas.

Scope and Content Note

I: Publishing

Encino Press, 1968-1975, .5 linear feet, Accession No. 89-009, -015, -020, -021,-025, -084, -104; 90-031, -034, 063; 91-042; 92-015, -091, 1998-131. The Encino Press file contains posters designed by Bill Wittliff and printed by Encino Press. There are original illustrations by John Groth for John Graves' The Last Running. The manuscript for Larry L. King's That Terrible Night That Santa Got Lost In The Woods is included along with correspondence, editing and original pen and ink scratchboard drawings by the Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist, Pat Oliphant. Also contains manuscripts submitted to Wittliff for publication and the manuscript and galleys of the 1989 Encino Press bibliography by Gould Whaley, Jr. entitled William D. Wittliff and the Encino Press

Barbara Whitehead Encino Press Woodcuts (1998-131) (56 linear feet, 28 boxes) Original carved and inked woodblocks created by Barbara Whitehead commissioned by the Encino Press. These blocks have been scanned and printed on plain paper for ease of access. See print-outs and accompanying zip-disks in box 877. Print-outs are annotated with either a title taken from the block or simply a descriptive cataloger-assigned title; these are the titles listed in this quide. Prnt-outs are also annotated with the titles of books in which the images appeared, such as: Deep Like the Rivers (1969), Many Texans (1969), Living Texas (1969), Texas Folk Medicine (1970), Growing Up in Texas (1972), Texas Wild Game Cookbook (1972), and Peter Arbiter (1973).

Writers/Artists,1962-1989, 1 linear foot, Accession No. 89-084, -091, -098; 90-031, -034, -061, -071, -076; 91-024, -086, -140, -152; 92-015, -053, -070, -091, -124, -137, -157; 93-009, -143; 94-021, -071. Manuscripts, articles, clippings, letters, prints, broadsides, and drawings of Southwestern writers and artists collected by Wittliff. Includes Steve Barthelme, Thomas Hart Benton, Joe Frantz, John Graves, Carl Hertzog, Bud Shrake, Bob Wade, and Walter Prescott Webb. See Appendix I for itemized listing. See also photograph series.

Texas Institute of Letters, 1957-1987, 4 files, Accession No. 89-012, 128; 93-182. The Texas Institute of Letters was organized in 1936 during the year of the Texas Centennial for the purpose of the "promotion and recognition of literature in Texas." It evolved into an organization which met annually and awarded literary prizes to works by Texas authors. Bill Wittliff joined the TIL in 1969 and was president from 1974 to 1978. He wrote and published a history of the Institute, The Texas Institute of Letters, 1936 - 1966. He and Encino Press had received awards from TIL beginning with his book design for an SMU Press printing of a lecture by Harry S. Truman. Wittliff designed and printed many TIL programs.

Three files hold TIL programs from 1957 to 1987, many designed by Wittliff or printed by Encino Press. Clippings about TIL are also found here along with the first copy of Texas Monthly signed by authors who were at the 1973 TIL meeting, and a cassette of the 1977 TIL meeting.

Catalogs, Flyers, Programs, Pamphlets, 1959-1990, 1 linear foot, Accession No. 90-011, -030; 92-015, -017, -124, -137; 94-155. This series contains Wittliff's collection of book catalogs, exhibition catalogs, printing pamphlets and historical society brochures. Invitations to readings, art and literature shows, directories, flyers, articles, clippings and notices are also present.

Magazines, 1940-1992, 3 files, Accession No. 89-099; 92-065, -124, -137. This series contains Wittliff's collection of magazines on the Southwest.

II. Photography

Photographs by Bill Wittliff may not be duplicated without the permission of Bill Wittliff.

III. Screenwriting and Filmmaking

The Screenplays are arranged chronologically according to when they were written. The order does not reflect the order in which the films were released. (See Appendix V for filmography [needs to be done]). The date following the title in parentheses is the release date. Photographs may not be duplicated without the permission of Bill Wittliff. Film and videotape may not be viewed or duplicated without the permission of Bill Wittliff.

Barbarosa (1982), 1973-1985, 3.5 linear feet plus oversize including 396 boxes of film reels, Accession No. 89-004, -022, -040, -049, -050; 91-031; 92-099; 93-060, -143; 94-062, -081. This series contains drafts of the script, costumes, photographs by Wittliff, the script supervisor's files, the editing and sound notes, publicity, distribution, and clippings of reviews and interviews. The archive also contains the dailies on film reels and a 16mm print of the film. The file labelled "Eric's Notes" is misplaced. Eric Williams was a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Austin Radio-TV-Film Department whom Wittliff hired in 1983 to help recut Barbarosa. The notebook contains the script, a revised one-line continuity and notes made by Williams in 1985.

Thaddeus Rose and Eddie (1978), 1973-1978, 2.5 linear feet, Accession No. 89-046, 89-047,-048; 90-032; 92-015, -137. Thaddeus Rose and Eddie was the first script written by Wittliff to be produced. Wittliff's agent brought the script to the attention of producers Rod Sheldon and Dan Paulson. Sheldon related "It wasn't written in the correct form. The story was a little clumsy, but it was warm and charming. . I said, 'Holy mackerel, we have a rare talent here.'" (Buck, Jerry. "Film Cash-es in on Texas Writer." Fort Worth Star-Telegram 21 Feb. 1978: 5c) The TV movie was directed by Texas director Jack Starrett and starred Bo Hopkins and Country music superstar, Johnny Cash. The film aired on the CBS network Friday Night Movies, Febuary 24, 1978 to generally favorable reviews. The production brought Wittliff to the attention of producer/director Francis Ford Cuppola who hired Wittliff to work on the script for The Black Stallion (1979). Wittliff credited the Cuppola job for providing authentification of himself as a screenwriter. This series contains drafts of the script, production forms, publicity and reviews. Also contains the drafts and galleys for the paperback Pinnacle Book based on the teleplay.

Raggedy Man (1981) 1973-1983, 4 linear feet, Accession No. 89-033, -036, -051; 91-009, -031, -079; 94-031.

Night in Old Mexico (Tattoo), 1974-1988, 3.5 linear feet, Accession No. 89-034.

The Terrible Teague Bunch, 1975, .5 linear feet, Accession No. 89-002.

Red Headed Stranger (1986), 1979-1988, 4 linear feet, Accession No. 90-019, -062; 91-006, -019, -079, -140; 92-013, -015; 93-143; 94-081, -107 Final shooting script has original drawing by Wittliff and is autographed by Wittliff and Nelson. Produced by Nelson and Wittliff. Directed by Wittliff. Script Supv. Cate Hardman Roach. Film was edited in Wittliff's offices by Eric A. Williams and Stephen Purvis. Slides removed from original sleeves and put in archival sleeves. Marked original sleeves are in front of resleeved slides.

The Mask of Aztlan, 1983-1985, 1 linear foot, Accession No. 89-035. "This one got stuck between thinking and feeling. The best stuff (the old men, the feathered airplane, the Mask itself) come from cutting the subconscious loose. Much of the rest of the story is contrivance--that is to say, thought out. The two didn't mix." Bill Wittliff, 2/24/89

Country (1984), 1984-1987, 1.5 linear feet, Accession No. 89-041, -042, -155. Written and co-produced by Wittliff. Starred Jessica Lange and Sam Shepard. Wittliff began as director but was replaced by Richard Pearce. 1985, Lange won Academy Award nomination. The film received the Christopher Award. Kelly Asbury drew story boards for Wittliff when he was director. Publicity contains reviews, congratulations, studio press kit, publicity junket which began in New York because movie opened the 1984 New York Film festival, final report of the screening program, report of gross receipts and distribution costs.

The Cowboy Way (1994), 1986-1993, 3.5 linear feet, Accession No. 89-036; 94-107, -147. This started as a rewrite of Pistoleers--"My first couple of drafts were set in New York City--then Crocodile Dundee came out and the studio asked me to reset the story in Washington, D. C. to avoid comparison. Against my better judgment I agreed to give it a try and the whole thing (meaning the writing) went downhill after that." Bill Wittliff, 2/16/89

Lonesome Dove (1989)-See Lonesome Dove finding aid.

Venganza (Mexico Story), 1989, .5 linear feet, Accession No. 93-143.

In the Cathedral of the Wolves, 1991-1992, .5 linear feet, Accession No. 93-143.

Ned Blessing (1991 pilot), 1991-1992, 5 linear feet, Accession No. 91-126, -128, -140; 92-052, -061, -137, -157; 93-102, -110, -143, -204; 94-021, -077, -107; 95-104. For writeup look at Glenn Alyn piece in publicity, 338.2.

Ned Blessing (1993), 1992-1993, 6 linear feet, Accession No. 93-060, -089, -100, -164, -202; 94-107. 6 part series, five of which aired August 1993 on CBS-TV.

Legends of the Fall (1994), 1990-1993, 2 linear feet, Accession No. 94-147.

Sundance Institute, 1983-1992, 3 linear feet, Accession No. 90-002; 91-140; 93-164. Connie Todd's note-The Sundance Institute for Film and Television was founded by Robert Redford to foster emerging talents, often found outside the mainstream of the traditional entertainment industry. For six years during the 1980s, Bill Wittliff served on the Board of Trustees for the Institute, working in particular on the Selection Committee. He also donated his time as a writer's mentor during the June Workshop at Sundance Resort near Provo, Utah and at the Writer's Workshop held during the January Sundance Film Festival.

Scripts from other writers, 3 files, 1980s-1990s, Accession No. 94-107.

Filmmaking-General files, 1983-1994, 3 files.


Access Restrictions

Restricted. Contact the SWWC for information about access.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Bill Witliff Papers, Southwestern Writers Collection/Texas State University-San Marcos.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Bill and Sally Wittliff since 1988. Contact the SWWC for information about additional materials from this writer that have not yet been fully processed.

Processing Information

Processed by Gwynedd Cannan, September 1995.

Detailed Description of the Collection


The inventory for this collection is currently unavailable. Please contact the Southwestern Writers Collection, Special Collections, Alkek Library, Texas State University-San Marcos for more information regarding this collection.