An Inventory of His Collection at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
Michael Harrison was born on April 25, 1907, in Milton, England. He was educated at King's College and the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. He served briefly in the British Military Intelligence during World War II. He worked as a journalist, editor, creative director of an advertising agency, managing editor of Trade News Ltd. and The British Ink Maker, a market research executive, and an industrial and technical consultant.
Michael Harrison's literary career began in 1934 with the publication of his first novel. His early years were prolific, and he published seventeen novels between 1934 and 1954. His early publications included What are We Waiting For? (1939) and There's Glory For You! (1949). During the 1950s, he turned to the genre of mystery writing. Harrison wrote three short crime novels under the pseudonym of Quentin Downes (1952-54) and achieved his greatest literary success with the publication of In the Footsteps of Sherlock Holmes in 1958. Harrison became a leading authority on Sherlock Holmes, writing seven subsequent novels about the Victorian sleuth. Harrison was also a great admirer of Edgar Allan Poe's detective, C. Auguste Dupin. He wrote twelve short sequels to Murder in the Rue Morgue, and entitled the resulting anthology Murder in the Rue Royale (1972).
Harrison was awarded the Occident Prize for Weep for Lycidas (1934), was named Duke of Sant Estrella by the Kingdom of Redonda (1951), and was named Irregular Shilling by the Baker Street Irregulars of New York (1964). He was a member of the Society of Authors, Crime Writers Association, Baker Street Irregulars of New York, and the Sherlock Holmes Society of London. He died in 1991.
The Michael Harrison Collection, 1939-1962 (bulk 1958-1961), includes working notes, drafts, printer's copies, page proofs, illustration pulls, a published book, and correspondence. The collection is arranged in two series: I. Works, 1939-59 (1.5 boxes); and II. Correspondence, 1958-62 (.5 box). The collection focuses on Harrison's most famous work, In the Footsteps of Sherlock Holmes, containing both manuscript drafts and correspondence pertaining to the book. Manuscript drafts of two other novels complete the collection.
Manuscript materials relating to In the Footsteps of Sherlock Holmes (1958) constitute the bulk of Series I. Eight folders contain holograph working notes, a printer's copy with holograph revisions, an incomplete set of page proofs, a preliminary set of illustration pulls, and the second edition of the book, heavily annotated with notes, comments, and inserts by the author. Manuscripts for two other novels by Harrison, There's Glory For You! (1949) and What Are We Waiting For? (1939), are also present in this series. Consisting of a printer's copy only, the manuscript for There's Glory For You!, an example of historical fiction, is highlighted by a note from the author reading “this is the typescript ready for printing. It was typewritten by me, and constitutes the original (indeed, the only) MS of this novel.” The manuscript for What Are We Waiting For?, Harrison's fifth novel, is almost completely handwritten. The series is arranged alphabetically by title and is organized to reflect the process of editing and publication.
Series II contains correspondence relating to the publication of In the Footsteps of Sherlock Holmes. Outgoing correspondence has been arranged chronologically in one folder, and incoming correspondence is arranged alphabetically in three folders. Most of the letters are from individuals interested in Sherlock Holmes, writing to Harrison with corrections to his book and insight into the fictional character. Also present is correspondence with Harrison's literary agent, Jacques Chambrun, prospective book publishers, and societies devoted to Holmes, books, and authors. This series also includes two dinner programs from The Author's Club and the Sherlock Holmes Society of London. Other correspondents of note include The Baker Street Irregulars, Cassell and Company, Ian MacMillan, Cecil Roth, F. J. P. Veale, and the Jules Verne Society. Harrison's carbon copy responses to his admirers and literary contacts, varying in length and formality, are found in the Outgoing Correspondence files.
Open for research
Purchase, 1974 (R6216)
Christopher D. Filippi, April 1995; Sarah Demb, 1996; Jennifer Peters, 1996
Michael Harrison Collection--Folder List