Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Book cover. Click to enlarge.

Arthur Conan Doyle, The Black Doctor and Other Tales, 1919.

Detective, Fantasy, and Science Fiction

Detective Fiction

The Ellery Queen collection of mystery and detective fiction was the first large collection of this genre and was assembled by Frederic Dannay (1905–1982), who, jointly with Manfred B. Lee (1905–1971), used the pseudonym Ellery Queen. The collection consists of works by the two cousins, as well as first editions of classic works of detective literature by Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, Mark Twain, and many others. This collection was the basis of the bibliography Queen's Quorum (1951).

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930) maintained a "true crime" reference library of court proceedings, police reports, and criminals' statements, which is now preserved at the Center. The Center also holds books, photographs, and manuscripts reflecting his interest in spiritualism, as well as the manuscripts of his Sherlock Holmes tales "A Scandal in Bohemia" and "The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez."

The Robert Lee Wolff library of nineteenth-century fiction contains manuscripts, letters, and diaries of Elizabeth Braddon (1837–1915), author of Lady Audley's Secret, in addition to the novels by scores of major and minor Victorian mystery and sensation writers, many in multiple editions.

The Dorothy L. Sayers collection of Wilkie Collins (1824–1889) contains manuscripts and correspondence by both Sayers and Collins. The Ransom Center holds a number of manuscripts by women detective and mystery writers, such as Ann Bridge (Lady Mary Dolling O'Malley) (1889–1974), Emma, Baroness von Orczy (1865–1947), and Anna Katharine Green Rohlfs (1846–1935).

The archive and library of Erle Stanley Gardner (1889–1970) includes manuscripts for hundreds of works by the creator of Perry Mason. The Gardner collection includes scripts for the Perry Mason radio show and for the later television series, documents from Gardner's "Court of Last Resort," dictation tapes, photos, numerous scrapbooks of news clippings, correspondence, and memorabilia from his office.

The Ellsworth Mason collection of John D. MacDonald (1916-1986) was assembled for an unpublished bibliography and contains multiple variants. The Matthew Bruccoli collection of detective writers is notable for its holdings of editions of John Le Carré (1931– ). Both collections are currently uncataloged. The prolific English detective writer Edgar Wallace (1875–1932) is represented by a small collection of manuscripts and extensive holdings of his published works. The papers of Alan Furst (1941– ) allow researchers to study this espionage writer's historical sources.

The work of Dashiell Hammett (1894–1961) is represented by 23 corrected typescripts of stories and plays, including incomplete and unpublished works, as well as a corrected draft of The Thin Man. Hammett and Raymond Chandler (1888-1959) are represented in the Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. archive, along with Warwick Deeping and many other detective writers of the early twentieth century.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature

Formed by specialist bookseller and editor L. W. Currey, the Ransom Center's science fiction and fantasy literature collection numbers 35,000 volumes, with emphases on the early years of the genre, American and British interplanetary fiction (1827–1914), American utopian fiction (1888–1900), and author collections of major twentieth-century science fiction and fantasy writers from both countries. Other holdings, such as the Lee Huddleston and William Fritts collections of pulp fiction and comic books, supplement these classic works and expand coverage of the genre to the 1980s. The University's collections of science fiction and fantasy (including the main library's holdings) are among the strongest in the nation.

The Center holds large archives of the classic fantasy writers Arthur Machen (1863–1947), M. P. Shiel (1865–1947), John Gawsworth (1912–1970), who styled himself as the "King of Redonda," and Anglo-Irish playwright Lord Dunsany (1878–1958). In the contemporary period, the archive of John Crowley (1942– ) includes manuscripts of most of the major works of this “crossover” fantasy novelist.

The archive of L. Sprague de Camp (1907–2000) and Catherine Crook de Camp (1907–2000) contains manuscripts for novels by de Camp, as well as correspondence, family records, research and business files, and hundreds of letters from major authors and editors of popular science and science fiction.