Crews , Harry, 1935-
|Title: ||Harry Crews papers|
43.8 Linear feet
(77 document boxes, 7 half boxes, 6 oversized boxes)
|Abstract:||The collection consists of the literary papers of American writer Harry Crews . These papers document his writing career up through the publication of his twentieth book,
An American Family: The Child With the Curious Marking (2006). Typed and holograph manuscripts, correspondence, clippings, conference material, awards, literary and film contracts, financial statements, and photographs make up the bulk of materials, which generally date from the mid-1960s onward.|
|Coll. Number: ||ms3340|
Harry Crews was born in 1935, in Bacon County, Georgia. He has been a carnival barker, light-heavyweight boxer and a bartender. He left Georgia at the age of 18 to pull a hitch in the Marine Corps during the Korean Conflict. With the GI Bill he went to the University of Florida and upon graduation started to write, the only thing he’d ever wanted to do, and never looked back.
Crews has been described as “a dark chronicler of human vanity and folly,” an artist in depicting “the world of the misbegotten, the freaks and misfits and malcontents in whose strange doings Crews is able to locate a genuine if quirky humanity” (Washington Post Book World). “Harry Crews has a talent all his own,” remarked American novelist Norman Mailer of Crews ’s 1976 novel A Feast of Snakes. “He begins where James Dickey left off.”
He has 21 titles: novels, collections of essays, a memoir and a play entitled
Blood Issue, commissioned by and first produced at the Actors Theatre of Louisville and published by the University of Kentucky in a volume entitled
Southern Playwrights. His most recent books are
Scar Lover, and
The Knockout Artist. Two one hour documentaries have been made of this life and work, one by PBS entitled
Rough South, and one by an independent producer, Film Noir, entitled
Guilty As Charged.
Crews ’ 1978 memoir
A Childhood: The Biography of a Place tells of his growing up in rural southern Georgia and of coming to terms with that culture as an adult. “It’s easy to despise poor folks,” said one reviewer of A Childhood in The New York Times Book Review. “A Childhood makes it more difficult. It raises almost to a level of heroism these people who seem of a different century…. A Childhood is not about a forgotten America, it is about a part of America that has rarely, except in books like this, been properly discovered.”
He has been a columnist for
Esquire magazine, and was a contributing editor for
Fame magazine of New York City, and contributing editor for Southern magazine of Little Rock, Arkansas.
He has had an NEA grant, an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and also won the award from the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines of America for the best piece of nonfiction published in any literary magazine in 1977. That essay, “One Bright February Morning,” appeared in
Shenandoah. He was on the staff of Breadloaf Writers Conference for six consecutive years, and has long since lost count of the number of universities and colleges at which he has lectured and read. Crews currently lives and works in Florida and will continue to write until the final curtain comes down. His work has been published in France, Italy, Holland, Israel, and England.
Scope and Content Note
The literary papers of American writer Harry Crews (1953-2006) document his writing career up through the publication of his twentieth book,
An American Family: The Child With the Curious Marking (2006). Typed and holograph manuscripts, correspondence, clippings, conference material, awards, literary and film contracts, financial statements, and photographs make up the bulk of materials, which generally date from the mid-1960s onward.
The Correspondence series (1962-2005) begins with correspondence between Crews and his mentor Andrew Lytle (who first published Crews in
The Sewanee Review), letters from college friends/apprentice writers with whom Crews struggled to generate novels for publication, and rejection slips and correspondences from prospective literary agents and publishers.
Letters in the middle and late 1960s document the period when Crews published his first two novels --
The Gospel Singer,
Naked in Garden Hills - and include correspondence with his first literary agent, Bert Cochran, of American Authors, Inc., with John Hawkins of Paul Reynolds, Inc., who succeeded Cochran, and with Crews ' editor at William Morrow, Jim Landis.
The letters between Crews and Landis, who would edit Crews ' first five novels between 1967 and 1972, are particularly rich in material on the writer's composition process and concerning his ideas about characterization and theme. At this time, also, correspondence appears from other American writers - John Ciardi, Seymour Epstein, Maxine Kumin, William Meredith, Henry Van Dyke and others -- with whom Crews became acquainted through the Bread Loaf Writers Conference and the University of Florida Writers Conference, the latter which he co-directed between 1970-1974 with fellow UF writer and professor Smith Kirkpatrick. (Other writers represented in the Correspondence include Malcolm Braly, Robert Olen Butler, Erskine Caldwell, Daniel Mark Epstein, Barry Hannah, Jim Harrison, Joseph Heller, James Leo Herlihy, William Hjortsberg, Maxine Kumin, Norman Mailer, Tom McGuane, Tim McLaurin, Donn Pearce, James Tiptree, Dan Wakefield, Charles Willeford and Miller Williams.)
In the 1970s there is also correspondence between Crews and his friend an