An Inventory of His Collection at the Harry Ransom Center
Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, Jr. was born May 8, 1937 in Glen Cove, New York to Thomas Pynchon, an industrial surveyor, and Katherine (Bennett) Pynchon. He grew up in the nearby town of Oyster Bay, and received an engineering physics scholarship to Cornell University in 1954. His studies were interrupted by two years of service in the U.S. Navy from 1955 to 1957. When he returned to Cornell, he pursued a liberal arts degree and graduated with a B.A. in 1959.
Pynchon began work on his first novel, V., in 1959 while living in New York City. He moved to Seattle, Washington, in 1960 and worked two years as a technical writer for Boeing Aircraft, then lived in California and Mexico while finishing work on the book. Published in 1963 to great critical acclaim, V. received the William Faulkner Foundation Award for best first novel.
Pynchon’s literary reputation grew with his next two books, The Crying of Lot 49 (1966) and Gravity’s Rainbow (1973), the latter a best-seller and National Book Award winner considered by some critics to be the most important piece of fiction since James Joyce’s Ulysses. His later books Vineland (1990), Mason & Dixon (1997), and Against the Day (2006) did not enjoy the critical praise of his earlier works, but his status as one of the most important American writers of post-modern fiction remains unchanged.
Starting with the publication of his first novel, Pynchon has shunned publicity, refuses to be photographed, and closely guards his privacy. Little is know about his personal life. In addition to his novels, Pynchon has written essays, reviews, and short stories appearing in publications such as the New York Times Book Review, New York Times Magazine, the New York Review of Books, the Kenyon Review, and the Saturday Evening Post. In 1984, he published a collection of his short stories written in the late 1950s and early 1960s titled Slow Learner: Early Stories.
"Thomas Pynchon."Contemporary Authors Online, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/H1000080323/CA?u=txshracd2598&sid=CA&xid=8455184b (accessed 9 January 2008)
This small collection documents three of Pynchon’s works: "Minstrel Island,"V., and Vineland. The materials are arranged in alphabetical order by title and date from 1959 to circa 1990.
"Minstrel Island" materials consist of one folder of handwritten and typed notes, outlines, and draft fragments of an unpublished, unfinished musical written by Pynchon and his friend, John Kirkpatrick Sale. The materials date to spring 1958 and were written while both Pynchon and Sale were attending Cornell University.
Materials related to Pynchon’s first published book V. make up the bulk of the collection and consist of six folders of typed mimeo copies of a late 1962 draft of the book, one galley proof, and eight typed letters from Pynchon to John Kirkpatrick Sale and Sale’s wife, Faith. The letters date from both before and after the book’s publication in 1963 and discuss the editorial process, evolution of the text, and the critical response to the book. Also included is a paperback edition of V. containing annotations made by the seller’s staff indicating page numbers corresponding to the typed draft mimeo copy.
Pynchon’s 1990 book Vineland is documented with a photocopy of a complete, fair copy, typed draft of the book.
Forty-two letters written by Pynchon, dating from 1967 to 1982, are restricted during Pynchon's lifetime.
Open for research. Three folders of correspondence restricted during the lifetime of Thomas Pynchon.
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Gift, 1968; Purchases, 2000 (R14802), 2002 (R15035), 2006 (R15447), 2015 (15-08-012-P)
Stephen Mielke, 2008
Thomas Pynchon--Folder List