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Special Collections and University Archives

Finding Aid

Margaret Drabble's Research Files for Angus Wilson: A Biography
MsC 931
Collection Dates: 1990 - 1995

Access and Restrictions: At this time, access to this collection must be expressly granted by Margaret, Lady Holdroyd (Margaret Drabble).

Digital Surrogates: Except where indicated, this document describes but does not reproduce the actual text, images and objects which make up this collection. Materials are available only in the Special Collections Department.

Copyright: Please read The University of Iowa Libraries' statement on Property Rights, Copyright Law, and Permissions to Use Unpublished Materials.

Use of Collections: The University of Iowa Libraries supports access to the materials, published and unpublished, in its collections. Nonetheless, access to some items may be restricted by their fragile condition or by contractual agreement with donors, and it may not be possible at all times to provide appropriate machinery for reading, viewing or accessing non-paper-based materials. Please read our Use of Manuscripts Statement.

Acquisition and Processing Information: This collection was acquired from Margaret Drabble following the publication of her book in 1995.

Photographs: None.









Scope and Contents

The materials in this collection consist of the files assembled by Margaret Drabble from 1990 - 1995 and used in the writing of her monumental 1995 biography of fellow British novelist Sir Angus Wilson. The files have been categorized by UI Special Collections into five sections:

Administrative Materials, which contain papers concerning the logistics surrounding the research and writing;

Alphabetical Files, which comprises the largest portion of the collection The files contain correspondence, photocopies of documents (including letters to and from Wilson), and other materials arranged alphabetically by the last name of the person sourced or, in a few cases, the subject term. The files contain letters from famous correspondents including Peter Ackroyd, Martin Amis, Louis Auchincloss, John Bayley, Saul Bellow, Frederick Busch, Hortense Calisher, William Golding, Nadine Gordimer, Ian McKellen, Michael Moorcock, Iris Murdoch, V.S. Naipaul, Michael Ondaatje, V.S. Pritchett, Muriel Spark, Peter Shaffer, Stephen Spender, and Peter Ustinov. These files have been retained in the same order as Drabble originally arranged them. An Index to the Alphabetical Files provides a full list of the subjects here.

Angus Wilson: A Biography: The original typescript and revised, complete typescript of Drabble's work, which include corrections, inserts, and notes made or added by Drabble;

Research Materials, comprised of raw material (such as subject files, copies of vital documents, etc.) that Drabble used to assemble her biography; and

Notebooks, consisting of the numerous notebooks Drabble used in her research.

Drabble's research files are a valuable contribution to the study of biography. They provide a accessible window into the methods by which a skilled biographer assembles and manipulates material to create a significant historical and literary monument. In addition, they nicely complement the Papers of Angus Wilson by providing an "outsider's" view of his life and works and presenting much of the raw material that goes into making up a life.

Note: In the box list, "AW" refers to Angus Wilson. "MD" refers to Margaret Drabble.

Biographical Note

Margaret Drabble was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire, on June 5, 1939. She read English at Newnham College, Cambridge and, after leaving college, joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1960, where she understudied for Vanessa Redgrave. However, she left the RSC after only a few years, to pursue a career as a novelist. Her first novel, A Summer Bird Cage, was published in 1963. Drabble would go on to publish a number of acclaimed novels, including, among others, The Millstone (winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize, 1965), Jersualem the Golden (winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, 1967), The Needle's Eye (1972), The Realms of Gold (1975), The Middle Ground (1980), The Gates of Ivory (1991), and The Witch of Exmoor (1996).

In addition to her works of fiction, Drabble is a notable literary scholar, who has edited several noted volumes (such as The Oxford Companion to English Literature, 1985 and 2000), produced works on Wordsworth and Hardy, to name a few subjects, and written full-length studies of novelists Angus Wilson and Arnold Bennett. She has also written numerous plays, short stories, and screenplays.

Drabble married her second husband, the writer Michael Holdroyd, in 1982. She was made a Commander of the British Empire in 1980, and in 2008 was promoted to Dame Commander of the British Empire, for services to literature.


Related Materials

WILSON, ANGUS (FRANK JOHNSTONE), 1913-1991. Papers of Angus Wilson, 1906-1992. 77.5 ft.
British author. Heavily revised manuscripts and typescripts of Wilson's short stories, reviews, novels, lectures, articles, and television scripts; notebooks, correspondence, etc. For some additional information about the collection , see Frederick P. W. McDowell, "The Angus Wilson Collection" MsC199. (Finding Aid)

Box Contents List



Box 1

Administrative Materials
Folder Items
1 Appendices, including edits
2 Chronology of AW's life
3 - 5 Correspondence Notes
6 - 8 Edits
9 General and Assorted
10 - 12 Inserts
13 Interview List
14 MD's Correspondence with Publishers
15 - 17 Primary Materials Box Contents Lists


Alphabetical Files

18 Alphabetical List of Interviewees
19 Aberystwyth - Anrep
20 Anti-Apartheid - Australia
21 Bacon - Binding
22 Birch - Boyle
23 Bradbury - British Museum
24 Broadbent - Byng
25 Cain - Chopping
26 Christ Scientist - Contracts


Box 2

Alphabetical Files
1 Cook - Crittall
2 Croft - Daymond
3 Deakin - Dyson
4 Eastbourne - Ford
5 Fordham - Furbank
6 GCHQ - Goff
7 Golding - Graham-Young
8 Gray - Hawtrey
9 Healey - Hooper
10 Hornby - Hyatt King
11 Ikeshiro - Johnstone-Wilson
12 Joll - Kocen
13 Kosterlitz - Longberg
14 Larriere - Lyttleton-Hart Davis
15 Macdonald - Matsumara
16 McCallum - Merry
17 Merton College - Montherlong
18 Moorcock - Northampton
19 Observer - Paucker
20 Peace Pledge Union - Prince


Box 3

Alphabetical Files

1 Pritchett - Restuarants
2 Reve - Robinson
3 Roger - Russell
4 Safterstein - Serikawa
5 Seteais - Storr
6 Strachey - Thistlewaite
7 Thompson - Tynan
8 UCLA - Walpole
9 Warburg - Westminister
10 White - Wollheim
11 Wood - Young


Angus Wilson: A Biography

12 - 16 Original typescript with corrections, inserts and notes
17 Typescript with corrections and inserts, Foreword and Chapters 1 - 5
18 Typescript with corrections and inserts, Chapters 6 - 10
19 Typescript with corrections and inserts, Chapters 11 - 14
20 Typescript with corrections and inserts, Chapters 15 - 17
21 Typescript with corrections and inserts, Chapters 18 - 20


Box 4

Angus Wilson: A Biography

1 Typescript with corrections and inserts, Chapters 21 - 22
2 Typescript with corrections and inserts, Chapters 23 - 24
3 Typescript with corrections and inserts, Chapters 25 - 26
4 Typescript with corrections and inserts, Chapters 27 - 28
5 Typescript with corrections and inserts, Chapters 29 - 30
6 Typescript with corrections and inserts, Chapters 31 - 32


Research Materials

7 Autobiography (AW)
8 Bibliographies
9 Bury St. Edmunds Theatre, and TV Reviews by AW, 1962-1963
10 Conradi, Peter
11 Family Information
12 Family Trees
13 Forster, E.M.
14 Halio, Jay/University of Delaware
15 Holdroyd, Michael (Famous Writers School, 1969-1974)
16 Jussawilla, Adil
17 Kissane, Joseph
18 McEwan, Ian
19 McGill University
20 Miscellaneous
21 Mitchel, Stuart
22 Mitchell, Julian
23 Photocopies of AW's Correspondence - Alphabetical

Photocopies of AW's Correspondence with Geoffrey Wright

25 Photocopies of AW's Correspondence with Publishers
26 - 27 Photocopies of Materials on AW and/or by AW
28 Serikawa, Kazu
29 Ship Passenger Lists

Subject Files

30   Ashampstead School
31   Bletchley Park
32   Bury St. Edmunds
33   Caney Family/South Africa
34   Childrens Stories
35   Iowa
36`   Kipling
37   Scotland
  Vital Statistics
38   Birth Certificates

  Death Certificates

40   Marriage Certificates
41 Wills


Boxes 5 - 6