Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Spring 2012 Newsletter

Recent Acquisitions:
J. M. Coetzee and Elliott Erwitt

Painting. Click to enlarge.

The J. M. Coetzee archive contains drawings and paintings from his childhood.

Manuscript page. Click to enlarge.

Revised draft of J. M. Coetzee's Disgrace. The book, published in 1999, won the Man Booker Prize.

Nikita Khrushchev and Richard Nixon. Click to enlarge.

Nikita Khrushchev and Richard Nixon, Moscow, 1959. © Elliott Erwitt/MAGNUM PHOTOS.

Fidel Castro. Click to enlarge.

Cuba. Havana. 1964. © Elliott Erwitt/MAGNUM PHOTOS.

In 1965, J. M. Coetzee enrolled in graduate studies at The University of Texas at Austin. Between his coursework and cricket matches, he spent time studying the manuscripts of Samuel Beckett for his dissertation research. Nearly 50 years later, in the midst of a brilliant writing career that has been honored with prestigious recognitions including the Nobel Prize for literature, Coetzee's own papers have found a home alongside Beckett's manuscripts at the Ransom Center. His archive records the false starts and carefully edited drafts that evolved into such acclaimed novels as Life & Times of Michael K and Disgrace. Professional correspondence fills more than 60 document boxes. The archive includes photographs, schoolwork, childhood drawings, and the poetry Coetzee wrote while he worked as a computer programmer. Scholars eager to study the manuscripts of one of the world's most significant contemporary authors are already inquiring about the collection. Once Coetzee's archive has been cataloged and is accessible for research, the Ransom Center will announce the news on its website.

The Ransom Center is also home to more than 50,000 signed, photographic prints by renowned photographer Elliott Erwitt. Erwitt's works have recorded and infused American culture for more than six decades. With his keen eye and lens, Erwitt has captured countless iconic historical moments, but he is equally adept at illuminating the rich humanity to be found around us every day. Erwitt was one of the earliest members of Magnum Photos, invited to join the co-operative in 1953 by one of its founders, Robert Capa. Ten years later, Erwitt became president of the agency and served for three terms. His photographic archive will complement the Magnum Photos collection already housed at the Ransom Center. Erwitt visited Austin in September to celebrate the announcement that his photographic archive had been placed at the Ransom Center. After touring the Center and meeting with curators and other staff, Erwitt spoke vividly about his storied career to a full and captivated audience. The archive is currently being prepared for public access.

The Ransom Center has been fortunate to receive a series of important gifts over the past several months, including:

- The editorial files of Commentary magazine, spanning from 1945 to 1995

- The archive of publisher, writer, and artist Fleur Cowles, who spearheaded the innovative Flair magazine

- The archive of photographer and writer Peter Buckley, author of Bullfight (1958) and Ernest (1978), his photo-biography of Ernest Hemingway.  

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