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Papers of Theodore Sturgeon

 Collection
Identifier: MS 303

Overview

American science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon (1918-1985) was considered an innovator of the genre and one of the first real stylists. He began publishing short stories in the 1930s. In his lifetime Sturgeon authored six novels and numerous short stories. In the 1960s he worked as a screen writer for television shows that included The Invaders, The Land of the Lost, The Wild, Wild West, and Star Trek. This collection reflects his career as a writer and contains manuscripts of short stories, magazine columns, and novels. It also includes correspondence between Sturgeon and other authors, as well as family letters.

Dates

  • 1900 - 2010

Creator

Language of Materials

English, German, Spanish, Italian, and Bosnian.

Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.
Audiovisual materials are stored in the KU Annex off-site storage area.

All researchers interested in reviewing this material must consult Spencer Research Library Public Services staff (785-864-4334 or ksrlref@ku.edu, 9-5 M-F CST) before a planned visit; staff will respond within three days, though materials may not be available in that timeframe. Access to audiovisual materials may require digitization first. Be advised that drop-in requests for this material cannot be accommodated.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Theodore Sturgeon

Theodore Hamilton Sturgeon was born Edward Hamilton Waldo February 26, 1918 in Staten Island, New York to Edward Waldo and Christine Hamilton Dicker. His parents divorced in 1927, and his mother then married William Dicky "Argyll" Sturgeon. At age 11, the author was formally adopted by his stepfather and his name was changed legally to Theodore Hamilton Sturgeon.

In his teen years, Sturgeon excelled at gymnastics and aspired to be an aerialist in the circus. However, at the age of fifteen he was stricken with rheumatic fever, which prevented him from partaking in intense physical activity. In the late 1930s he joined the Merchant Marine, spending three years at sea. It was during this time that he began to write poetry and fiction.

Sturgeon sold his first story in 1938 to newspaper McClure Syndicate. He sold his first science fiction story, "Ether Breather," to Astounding Science Fiction a year later. Sturgeon primarily published short stories in genre magazines, but did publish some general interest stories as well. He published The Dreaming Jewels, his first novel, in 1950. Sturgeon continued to publish short stories, book reviews, and novels, establishing his work as an innovator in the science fiction genre. He was known to use a technique referred to as "rhythmic prose," in which his prose text would drop into a standard poetic meter. This has the effect of creating a subtle shift in mood, usually without alerting the reader to its cause.

Sturgeon is credited with six novels, four novelizations, and two pseudonymous novels, as well as numerous short stories, short story collections, and reviews. During the 1960s, Sturgeon worked as a screen writer for television shows such as The Invaders, The Land of the Lost, The Wild, Wild West, and the original Star Trek series (for which he wrote the episodes "Shore Leave" and "Amok Time"). Two of Sturgeon's stories were adapted for The New Twilight Zone. His 1944 novella, KillDozer!, was the inspiration for the 1970s made-for-TV movie, Marvel comic book, and alternative rock band of the same name.

In 1940, Sturgeon married his high school sweetheart, Dorothy Fillingame, who changed her first name to "Dorothé" so that it reflected "Theodore." They had two daughters, Patricia and Cynthia, before divorcing in the late 1940s. He married Mary Mair, a singer and poet, in 1949. The marriage was annulled in 1951. In 1953, Sturgeon married Marion McGahan and remained married to her for the remainder of his life, despite their separation in the mid-1960s. The marriage produced four children, sons Robin and Timothy and daughters Tandy and Noël. Sturgeon met and began to live with journalist Wina Golden in 1967. She took his last name and continued to use it professionally. They had one son, Andros. Wina and Sturgeon's relationship ended in 1974, and in 1976, he met Jayne Tannehill Englehart (now Williams). The two lived together until his death. Sturgeon died of lung fibrosis May 8, 1985 in Eugene, Oregon.

Sturgeon's writing had a strong influence on 1960s counterculture, including bands such as The Grateful Dead and Crosby, Stills & Nash. His lyrical and varied style represented a turn from the "hard" science fiction of the 1940s to the socially conscious topics more common in contemporary science fiction, including sexuality, gender, pacifism, and the individual cost of social conventions. His short stories ranged from science fiction and fantasy to comedy and horror.

During his lifetime, Sturgeon won several awards. He won the International Fantasy Award for his novel More Than Human; the Hugo and Nebula awards for his short story "Slow Sculpture"; the Outstanding Achievement Award from the International Society of Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy for the Star Trek screenplay "Amok Time"; and the Gaylactic/Spectrum Award for his groundbreaking story about homosexuality, "The World Well Lost."

Extent

38.25 Linear Feet (65 boxes + 5 oversize boxes, 6 audiovisual items)

Scope and Contents

The Theodore Sturgeon collection dates from approximately 1900 to 2010. The first series, which had been owned by Marion Sturgeon, consists of material left by Sturgeon in Woodstock, New York when he separated from Marion in the 1960s. This series is in its original order as received from Marion Sturgeon.

The second series was owned by the Theodore Sturgeon Literary Trust, and had been thoroughly organized by Jayne (Sturgeon) Williams, Sturgeon's domestic partner for the last nine years of his life, and is also in its original order.

The third series comprises materials from a 2019 donation from Noël Sturgeon on behalf of the Theodore Sturgeon Literary Trust and has been arranged into further sub-series to facilitate discovery and access.

Audiovisual materials are listed separately in a final fourth series.

The collection includes correspondence between Sturgeon and his publishers; other science fiction writers and creators including Isaac Asimov, Gene Roddenberry, Robert A. Heinlein, Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury, and Damon Knight; letters from fans; and correspondence between Sturgeon and his family. The collection also contains the now infamous letter from Robert Heinlein to Sturgeon with story ideas, some of which Sturgeon later used. A full index of correspondents in the collection is available in pdf form; see the "Other finding aids" section for that index.

There are numerous manuscripts in the collection, documenting Sturgeon's career as a writer from his earliest publications in the 1930s in McClure's Magazine to the posthumously published novel Godbody.

The donation from Noël Sturgeon includes posthumous materials about Sturgeon, as well as materials from his lifetime. This includes bibliographic materials, correspondence and administrative records from the Literary Trust, photographs, obituaries, contracts and licensing agreements, trophies, and awards.

Series List

The collection is arranged into four series: Woodstock papers; the Theodore Sturgeon Literary Trust papers; Papers donated by Noël Sturgeon, Trustee, Theodore Sturgeon Literary Trust; and Audiovisual materials.

Woodstock papers

Boxes 1-2:
More Than Human manuscript and draft materials
Boxes 2-8:
Correspondence, manuscripts, and personal papers
Boxes 9-11:
Letters 1936-1968 and family correspondence
Box 12:
Correspondence, manuscripts, and personal papers

The Theodore Sturgeon Literary Trust papers

Boxes 13-18:
Correspondence, manuscripts, contracts, and notes
Box 19:
Letters 1968-1982 and family correspondence
Boxes 20-30:
Correspondence, manuscripts, contracts, and notes
Boxes 31-32:
Contracts and royalties, S-Z
Boxes 33-35:
Articles and reviews by Sturgeon
Boxes 35-39:
Manuscripts, A-M
Boxes 39-40:
Introductions for others
Boxes 40-41:
Articles about and interviews with Sturgeon
Boxes 41-43:
Correspondence, manuscripts, contracts, and notes
Boxes 43-45:
Contracts and royalties, A-R, V
Boxes 45-49:
Manuscripts, N-Y
Boxes 49-57:
Correspondence, manuscripts, and personal papers
MS Q51, Boxes 1-3; MS Qa8:
Oversize materials

Papers donated by Noël Sturgeon, Trustee, Theodore Sturgeon Literary Trust

Box 58; MS Q51 Box 3:
Bibliographic materials
Boxes 58-59; MS Q51 Box 3:
Correspondence
Box 59:
Literary Trust records
Box 59; MS Q51 Box 3; MS Qa8 Box 1:
Sturgeon ephemera
Box 59-60; MS Q51 Box 3:
Works
MS 351: Box 1-5; Framed Object 1; MS Q89 Box 1:
Artifacts

Audiovisual materials

SC AV 14 Case 1-6:
Audiovisual materials

Physical Location

MS 303

Physical Location

MS 359

Physical Location

MS Q51

Physical Location

MS Q89

Physical Location

MS Qa8

Physical Location

SC AV 14

Other Finding Aids

An index of Sturgeon's correspondence is available at ksrl.sc.sturgeoncorrespondenceindex.pdf.

An index of his works that are represented in the collection is available at ksrl.sc.sturgeonworksindex.pdf.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gifts, Theodore Sturgeon Literary Trust, 2011, 2013; Marion Sturgeon, 2011; Noël Sturgeon, Trustee, Theodore Sturgeon Literary Trust, 2019. Purchase, Marion Sturgeon, 2011.

Related Materials

Theodore Sturgeon Collection, MS 254, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas
Laura Powell Collection of Theodore Sturgeon Postcards and Letters, MS 320, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas
Martha "Ricky" Weiser collection of Theodore Sturgeon materials, MS 300, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas
Judith Eisenstein Bagai Collection of Theodore Sturgeon Drafts and Correspondence Relating to Star Trek Scripts, MS 321, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas
Christine "Felix" Sturgeon Collection, MS 330, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas
Theodore Sturgeon's A Way Home manuscript collection, MS 351, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Separated Materials

Books and periodicals from the library of Theodore Sturgeon have been cataloged separately. Books from the portion of the collection housed in Woodstock, New York may be located in KU’s online catalog by searching “Theodore Sturgeon Library: Woodstock Collection”; books included in the materials that came from the Theodore Sturgeon Literary Trust may be located by searching "Theodore Sturgeon Library: Theodore Sturgeon Literary Trust Collection."
Title
Guide to the Theodore Sturgeon Collection
Subtitle
Papers of Theodore Sturgeon
Status
Completed
Author
Finding aid prepared by skt, 2012; revised by skt, 2014; mhr, 2015; mwh, 2018; vej, 2019.
Date
2012
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
http://hdl.handle.net/10407/6860068304
Preferred citation
Papers of Theodore Sturgeon, MS 303, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

Contact:
1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States
785-864-4334