Harry Ransom Center

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  • Handwritten draft
    J. M. Coetzee's handwritten drafts of Life & Times of Michael K, one of his books that went on to win the Booker Prize.
  • J. M. Coetzee at the authors door
    Nobel Prize-winning author J. M. Coetzee signed the authors' door at the Ransom Center during a visit in May 2010. His life and works will be highlighted during an exhibition opening in fall 2020.
  • Manuscript draft
    Some of Coetzee's manuscript drafts for Life & Times of Michael K. are constructed from stacks of exam books bound between a piece of cardboard and held together with what appears to be a segment clipped from a wire hanger.
J. M. Coetzee
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Scenes from the South

J. M. Coetzee

August 15, 2020 – January 3, 2021

The Harry Ransom Center will celebrate the life and work of Nobel Prize­–winning author J. M. Coetzee with the Scenes from the South exhibition created in conjunction with the Amazwi South African Museum of Literature, Grahamstown, South Africa, in celebration of the author's eightieth birthday.

Coetzee is one of the most influential writers South Africa has produced. J. M. (John Maxwell) Coetzee was born in 1940 in Cape Town, South Africa, and worked as a computer programmer in England before graduating with a PhD from The University of Texas at Austin in 1968, focusing his dissertation on the early fiction of Samuel Beckett.

Coetzee's first novel, Dusklands, was published in 1974. He is known for highly acclaimed novels, as well as short fiction, essays, and autobiographical novels, including Boyhood (1998), Youth (2002), and Summertime (2009). He has twice won the prestigious Booker Prize, in 1983 for Life & Times of Michael K and 1999 for Disgrace. Coetzee was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2003. The Center holds Coetzee's papers—including notes, typescripts, background research materials, and correspondence—related to all of his major writings.

Scenes from the South highlights Coetzee's orientation toward South Africa, Australia, and Argentina—all of which lie on the 34th S parallel—while respecting the full range of literatures and traditions that have made him one of the world's most distinguished authors. Essential manuscripts from the Center will be supplemented with select items from Amazwi's own holdings.


Elizabeth Page
Head of Communications & Marketing