Sturgeon Papers Donated to KU Library

Photo by Claire Dooley, courtesy KU Libraries
Theodore Sturgeon spent many years teaching for the Intensive English Institute on the Teaching of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas. Every summer from the late 1970s until his death in 1985, he would have the pleasure of working with budding writers and those interested in teaching science fiction. As long as Paul Williams and I were working on the massive task of putting together The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon, published by North Atlantic Books, we needed easy access to the papers. That project took from 1991 to 2010, when the thirteenth volume of The Complete Stories came out. Then, I turned to the task of finding a home for the 50 boxes of papers, books, manuscripts, and other materials. The collection was in two parts. One, owned by the Theodore Sturgeon Literary Trust, had been thoroughly organized by Jayne (Sturgeon) Williams, Ted's domestic partner for the last nine years of his life. The other part was owned by Marion Sturgeon, Ted's widow, constituting material left by Ted in Woodstock when he separated from Marion in the 1960s. So, I owe a great debt to Jayne and to Marion for making the donation possible.

The most important reason I chose the Spencer Library at the University of Kansas, besides Ted's own wishes, was the fact that the Center for the Study of Science Fiction is located there. Besides hosting the summer teaching institutes, the Center gives out the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for the best published short science fiction every year. It also gives out the John Campbell Memorial Award for best science fiction novel and hosts the Campbell Conference. The Center for the Study of Science Fiction is the only place in the country focused on the scholarship and teaching of speculative fiction, and having the Sturgeon papers there means that they will be used to support the activities of the Center. This meant to me that the papers would not be sitting on some dusty shelf, or locked away in some collector's library, but part of an active, ongoing project to promote and understand speculative fiction. The fact that the English Department is solidly behind the Center also means it will be a permanent entity.

I hope that this donation, besides making the Sturgeon papers available to scholars and readers of science fiction, encourages other authors to donate their own papers to the Spencer Library. What better place to have your legacy, than one where it can be part of an active community of those who love science fiction?

-Noël Sturgeon, Trustee, Theodore Sturgeon Literary Trust

For more information about the papers:

Press release from the Spencer Library at University of Kansas:
Secondary page on this website showing Highlights of the Sturgeon Collection
with short descriptions of selected letters and manuscripts.

News coverage of the donation:
LA Times:
Sturgeon Papers Will Live Long and Prosper at the University of Kansas
Guardian (UK):
Sturgeon Archive Will Live Long and Prosper at University
Locus Magazine:
Sturgeon Papers Go to University of Kansas