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Papers of Theodore Sturgeon

Call Number: MS 254


American science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon (1918-1985) was considered an innovator of the genre and one of the first real stylists. This collection reflects his career as a writer and contains manuscripts of both short stories and novels. It also includes correspondence between Sturgeon and other authors.


  • Creation: 1930 - 1987


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

These 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, 9-5 M-F CST) no less than three days in advance of a planned visit. Be advised that drop-in requests for this material cannot be accommodated.

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

Biography of Theodore Sturgeon

Theodore Sturgeon was born Edward Hamilton Waldo on February 26, 1918 in Staten Island, New York. After his parents divorced, his mother married Scot William Dicky ("Argylle") Sturgeon, and at the age of eleven, Edward took his step-father's last name and changed his first name to Theodore to better match his childhood nickname of "Teddy."

Sturgeon sold his first story in 1938 to newspaper McClure's 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. He continued to publish short stories, book reviews, and novels, establishing his work as an innovative author in the science fiction genre. He was known to use a technique called "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 novelisations, two pseudonymous novels, and numerous short stories and reviews. During the 1960s, Sturgeon worked as a screen writer for television shows such as The Invaders, The Land of the Lost, and The Wild, Wild West, and the original Star Trek series. 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.

Sturgeon won Hugo and Nebula awards in 1970 for his short story "Slow Sculpture."

Sturgeon died of pneumonia on May 8, 1985 in Eugene, Oregon.


31 Linear Feet (52 boxes + 3 oversize boxes)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The Theodore Sturgeon papers date from 1930 to 1987 and consist largely of manuscripts, both written by Sturgeon and sent to Sturgeon by other writers. Some manuscripts were written by students in a class that Sturgeon taught, while others were written by well-known science fiction authors.

A large portion of the collection consists of uncorrected proofs sent to Sturgeon for early review, and magazines with Sturgeon's published reviews.

The collection also includes Sturgeon's correspondence with science fiction writers, friends, and publishers.

Physical Location

MS 254

Physical Location

MS Q40

Physical Location

Contact Spencer Library Public Services (Library Annex)

Related Materials

Other manuscript collections with Theodore Sturgeon-related materials housed at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library include but are not limited to

  1. Papers of Theodore Sturgeon, MS 303
  2. Martha "Ricky" Weiser Collection of Theodore Sturgeon, MS 300
  3. Laura Powell Collection of Theodore Sturgeon Postcards and Letters, MS 320
  4. Judith Eisenstein Bagai collection of Theodore Sturgeon materials, MS 321
  5. Christine "Felix" Sturgeon papers, MS 330
  6. Corporate Papers of the Robert Mills Literary Agency, MS 307
Guide to the Theodore Sturgeon Collection
Papers of Theodore Sturgeon
Finding aid prepared by skt, 2008; revised by eear, 2013. Finding aid encoded by skt, 2008; revised by eear, 2013.
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Preferred citation
Papers of Theodore Sturgeon, Department of Special Collections, MS 254, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

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

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States