University of Texas, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Peter Matthiessen:

A Preliminary Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Creator: Matthiessen, Peter, 1927-
Title: Peter Matthiessen Papers
Dates: 1958-1995
Abstract: The collection covers Matthiessen's forty-year career as novelist, naturalist, explorer, nature writer, and environmentalist. The materials include typescript drafts, galleys, page proofs, holograph notebooks, scrapbooks, correspondence, articles, reviews, slides, and photographs.
Extent: 58 Boxes, 5 Oversize Boxes, 2 Oversize Flat Files, 15 Galley Files (32.58 Linear Feet)
Repository: Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Scope and Contents

This collection of works by Peter Matthiessen is the first accession of his writings to be acquired by the HRHRC. The material described here reflects Matthiessen's forty-year career as novelist, naturalist, explorer, nature writer, and environmentalist. Many of his works are represented, ranging from fiction and non-fiction to magazine articles, and contributions to the works of others. The collection provides numerous typescript drafts, galleys, page proofs, holograph notebooks, scrapbooks, correspondence, articles, reviews, slides, and photographs. Thematically, Matthiessen describes native peoples and their causes, vanishing cultures and habitats, and the influence of Zen Buddhism in his life and writings. The collection is organized into three series: Works, Personal, and Writings of Others.

Matthiessen's fiction and nonfiction manuscripts are arranged by title under Subseries A of the first series, Works. Correspondence, research material, and reviews are present for many titles, in addition to material spanning the writing process from holograph notebooks to galleys. Subseries B comprises articles, essays, and other writings. Included are articles written for The New Yorker, Audubon, and New York Times Magazine, as well as Matthiessen's introduction to George Catlin's North American Indians. Matthiessen's interest in family history is found in his contribution to Evelyn D. Ward's Children of Bladensfield and his essay "Homegoing," tracing his lineage to the island of Föhr. Travel slides for various trips are found at the end of the collection, along with slides of selected dust jackets, magazine covers, and title pages of shorter works.

The second series, Personal, includes autobiographical and bibliographical sketches, biographical newspaper articles and interviews, awards, honors, and miscellaneous material.

Two works of other individuals are present in the third series: Larry Gross's screenplay of "Killing Mister Watson" and a humorous article by George Plimpton, Matthiessen's friend and Paris Review colleague.

Numerous magazine issues containing articles written by and about Matthiessen were received with this collection, along with the book ¡Baja! for which Matthiessen wrote the introduction. His many articles appear over a thirty year period in an eclectic array of titles from Sports Illustrated and Architectural Digest to Audubon and National Geographic. These materials have been transferred to the HRC book collection. A small jigsaw puzzle made from a photograph of the author walking in a Buddhist cemetery has been transferred to the HRC personal effects collection.

With the exception of some deteriorating tape and glue, minor water and mold damage, aging newspaper clippings, and what appears to be bullet penetration in one manuscript, the collection is in good condition. Much of the original organization, imposed by the dealer, has been retained, along with the item descriptions which correspond to the dealer's collection list. Some of the larger holdings of draft typescripts such as those for Killing Mister Watson, while kept in the order as received, remain in rough order.

Additional material is expected.



Open for research

Administrative Information


Reg. No. 13525

Processed by:

Liz Murray, 1996

Peter Matthiessen Papers--Box List

I. Works

A. Fiction and Non-fiction
African Silences (1991), holograph notebooks
1 African Silences, Dec. 31, 1985-Feb. 2, 1986, with correspondence
African Silences, Sand Rivers, Mbarangandu, Aug. 18-ca. Sept. 2 (no year given)
Africa, March-April 1978: Senegal, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Zaire
African Silences, manuscripts
Corrected typescripts-- "In Western Africa,""Ivory Coast,""Senegal"
Original typescript, heavily corrected, "Senegal, Gambia, Ivory Coast" section
Original typescript, heavily corrected, "Zaire" section
2 Corrected typescript, Congo Basin section,
2 copies, pp.107-145
Corrected typescript, Congo Basin section
Original corrected typescript, 5/5/86
Photocopy of original typescript, 5/5/86
Photocopy of original typescript, 5/5/86, 2nd copy
Final corrected typescript, setting copy
Notes and correspondence
3 Research materials, articles and wildlife publications, 1987-90
[Oversize newspaper articles removed to Box 63]
At Play in the Fields of the Lord(1965)
Early draft, corrected typescript
3-4 Carbon typescript
4 Photocopy of carbon typescript
5 Setting copy
Advance proofs, uncorrected
Film announcement, 1989, photocopy
[oversize original from Variety, June 23, 1989, removed to Box 63]

[Scrapbook of reviews removed to Box 59]

[Author, copyeditor, and printer's galleys removed to Galley Files]
Baikal: Sacred Sea of Siberia(1992)
6 Reviews and excerpts
Blue Meridian(1971)
[Paste-up sheets removed to Box 60 and author's galleys with editorial comments removed to Galley Files]
Cloud Forest(1961), holograph notebooks
First part of trip, Nov.-March
Latter part of trip, April-May
Undated notebook
Photographs of ruins, South America, 1961
Far Tortuga(originally titled "Fool Day,) "(1975)
7 Original draft, typescript
Corrected typescript, photocopy
8 Carbon typescript [with bullet damage]
Tentative copy, 7/8/74
8-9 Setting copy
9 Paste-up sheets
[paste-up sheets for production removed to Box 61]
Page proofs
[Two master sets of galleys removed to Galley Files and oversize map removed to Flat File]
10 Miscellaneous typescript pages
Scrapbook of reviews, letters, etc.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse (1983)
11-13 Corrected typescripts, various drafts
13 Page proofs, Samizdat edition with author's holograph notes in appendix
14 Galleys
14-16 Materials regarding the Leonard Peltier case, articles, court documents, etc.
16 Interview with Agent D. Price
Circuit Court Judgment, Janklow vs. Viking Press, et. al., June 1984
Dershowitz review in the New York Times Book Review, March 6, 1983, and PM response
[oversize newspaper reviews and articles on the film "Thunder Heart" removed to Box 63]
Indian Country(1984)
17 Photocopied holograph notebooks
Original and photocopy typescripts
18 Corrected typescript
18-19 Setting copy
19 Author's galleys
Galleys with authorial and editorial corrections
[oversize newspaper reviews removed to Box 63]
Journey to the Edge of the World (originally titled "Lo and Behold"), work-in-progress
20 Holograph notebook, "Mustang--Book I,"May 16-June 2 (no year given)
Early typescript draft
Corrected typescripts, undated early draft
Corrected typescript, 1/1/93,
2 copies
Research material
Killing Mister Watson(1990)
21-37 Corrected typescripts, numerous drafts, for published work (Book I) and unpublished typescripts of Books II and III.
Men's Lives(1986)
38 Bound, early uncorrected photocopy
Corrected typescript, photocopy
39 Corrected typescript
Galley sheets, photocopy
[oversize newspaper reviews removed to Box 63]
Nine-Headed Dragon River(1986)
40 Incomplete draft with author's corrections
Draft, 11/17/84
Draft, 11/17/84 and 1/17/85, incomplete draft
Corrected incomplete draft, 4/25/85
41 Uncorrected draft, 5/27/85
Uncorrected draft, 6/21/85
41-42 Various drafts including sections dated 8/25/85 and 9/1/85
42 Reviews
[oversize newspaper reviews removed to Box 63]
On the River Styx(1988)
"Remembering Lumumba" various versions
"Lumumba Lives" corrected typescript and published version
Photocopy typescript
British galleys, with author's corrections
[oversize newspaper reviews removed to Box 63]
Oomingmak: The Expedition to the Musk Ox Island in the Bering Sea(1967), photographs
Sal si Puedes(1970)
43 Setting copy

[Galleys removed to Galley Files]
Sand Rivers(1981)
Holograph notebook
First draft typescript
44 Second draft typescript
Others' corrections and correspondence
Shadows of Africa (originally "Bestiary"), (1992)
Miscellaneous original typescript with corrections, photocopied excerpts of published works
Photocopied excerpts for "A Reporter at Large" and The Tree Where Man Was Born
Preliminary manuscript, 12/5/89
45 Preliminary manuscripts, 1/13/90, 1/27/90, 3/1/90, 4/4/90, 7/12/90
46 The Shorebirds of North America(1967) and The Wind Birds(1973)
Original corrected typescripts for both titles merged into one sequence with mixed pagination, plus photocopies with annotations and changes by various authors including Ralph Palmer, one of the collaborators for Shorebirds
The Snow Leopard(1978)
47 Holograph notebook, 9/11/73-11/10/73
Holograph notebook, from 11/11/73
Holograph notebook, n.d.
Original corrected typescript
48 Original corrected typescript
Corrected typescript, photocopy
49 Setting copy
[oversize hand-drawn maps, endpapers for the book, removed to Box 63]
Bound proofs with holograph corrections

[Six sets of revised galleys removed to Galley Files]
Maps, notes, articles
[oversize map removed to Flat File]
[Scrapbook removed to Box 62]
The Tree Where Man Was Born(1972)
50 Holograph notebook, Africa, ca. 1969. Last section The Tree Where Man Was Born

[Galleys for The Tree removed to Galley Files]
Under the Mountain Wall
Holograph notebook with loose pages, April 11-ca. May 24 (no year given)
Carbon typescript, uncorrected
Correspondence, Sept.-Oct. 1963

[Article reporting the disappearance of Michael Rockefeller removed to Box 63]
Wildlife in America, revised edition (1984)
Notes and typescripts
B. Articles, Essays, and Other Writings
51 African Silences, "A Reporter at Large, "article for The New Yorker, July 2 and 22, 1986
Corrected typescript
Corrected galleys
"Annals of Crime: Peut-être un peu Excessif, "The New Yorker, 11/1/58
"Assateague," typescript fragments (2 p.), essay for The New Yorker
Children of Bladensfield
Holograph notebook, n.d.
Early draft of "Homegoing"
Corrected typescript, "Homegoing"
"Homecoming," typescript (two copies) with correspondence, 1976
Original typescript of text by Evelyn D. Ward
Original and photocopy of revisions of text
Bound proofs
Bladensfield genealogy

[Framed photograph of the children of Bladensfield removed to Box 59]
52 Scrapbook of letters, reviews, original photographs from the book
Sand Dune Press incorporation papers
53 Multiple spiral-bound copies of "Homegoing"--essay on a trip to the island of Föhr, documenting Matthiessen family history, printed for relatives.
54 Galapagos, holograph notebook, Oct. 27-Nov. 9 (no year given)
George Catlin, North American Indians, PM introduction, correspondence, research materials, 1988-89
Okovango, Tsodilo Hills, Winter Elephants typescripts, Jan. 1981
Holograph notes for New York Times Magazine article "Our National Parks: The Case for Burning, " with correspondence, Dec. 11, 1988
[oversize published article removed to Box 63]
Holograph notebook, disbound, Audubon series "Peter Matthiessen's Africa"
"Peter Matthiessen's Africa" Book One: Botswana and Book Two: Tanzania, photocopy of printed version, summer 1976 and 1977
55 "Rasputin at Baikal" typescript
"The Snow Leopard" articles
Author's corrected photocopied typescript, 12/21/76 for The New Yorker articles published in 1978 and 1979
Photocopy of The New Yorker galleys, "A Reporter At Large,"Oct. 26, 1977
Holograph notebook, "Africa - August (1978)," Tanzania
Tanzania, Audubon, May 1981

[ "The Wolves of Aguila,"Harper's Bazaar, August 1958 removed to Box 63]
56-57 Articles and chapter sections by various authors, PM notes, and Snow Leopard excerpts pertaining to the study, practice, and history of Zen
[oversize newspaper articles removed to Box 63]

II. Personal

58 Articles about PM
Autobiographical essay, typescript
Awards, honors, achievements, 1989-95
Bibliography by Chalice Yehling, with correspondence, 1992
Miscellaneous correspondence, PM and Maria
Matthiessen, 1981-1995
Miscellaneous photographs of sea creatures and children
Articles and correspondence re: PM trip to Texas--Austin, Dallas, Irving, 1985

[Scrapbook of reviews of early books, letters, PM's newspaper column, and dust jackets, removed to Box 62]

[Oversize material removed to Box 63: Fiftieth anniversary of the Literary Guild, 1927-1977, commemorative booklet re: At Play in the Fields of the Lord, 1965]

III. Writings of Others

58 Gross, Larry. "Killing Mister Watson" screenplay, 1st draft, 9/9/94
Plimpton, George. "Stalking the wild prevarication, " photocopy of published article
59-63 Oversize material
64-66 Slides of various trips, dust jackets, magazine covers, and titles pages of short works