MsC 594

Iowa Author

  Manuscript Register


Collection Dates: 1940 -- 1959
8.5 linear ft.

This document describes a collection of materials held by the
Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1420
Phone: 319-335-5921
Fax: 319-335-5900

Posted to Internet: January 1998

Acquisition Note: This collection was given to the University of Iowa Libraries by Thomas Duncan over a period of years from 1953 to 1963.

Access and Restrictions: This collection is open for research.

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 Please read The University of Iowa Libraries' statement on "Property Rights, Copyright Law, and Permissions to Use Unpublished Materials"

Use of Collections: The University of Iowa Libraries supports access to the materials, published and unpublished, in its collections.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.

Table of Contents

Biographical note

Scope and contents

Box 1 Correspondence -- Gus the Great

Box 2 Gus the Great -- Big River, Big Man

Box 3 Big River, Big Man

Box 4 Big River, Big Man

Biographical Note

Thomas W. Duncan was born in Casey, Iowa, on August 15, 1905. His interest in writing developed early, and he was publishing articles and short stories in newspapers and magazines while still in his teens. In 1922, he entered Drake University majoring in pre-law. During the summers he traveled through the Midwest with a Chautauqua theatrical group. His first published novel, O Chautauqua, was later drawn from this experience. Transferring to Harvard University, Duncan changed majors to study writing. He graduated cum laude, in 1929. He worked as a reporter and feature writer for the Des Moines Tribune in 1929 -- 1930. He returned to Drake and received his M.A. in 1931. After graduation he turned to writing fiction for "pulp magazines." Between 1935 and 1940, Duncan published four novels, including O Chautauqua (1935), and a circus novel, Ring Horse (1940). None of these books sold particularly well. From 1942 to 1944 he taught at Grinnell College, where he also served as Director of Public Relations.

Moving to the West, with his wife Actea Carolyn Young, he began to write full time. His second circus novel, Gus the Great was published in 1947. It was a literary and financial success. It sold 750,000 copies, was made into a movie, was a Book-of the-Month Club selection, and earned Duncan over $250,000.00 in royalties.

Duncan continued to write, publishing such works as Big River, Big Man (1959), Virgo Descending (1961), and The Labyrinth (1967). He died in 1987, at the age of 82, in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Scope and Contents

The papers of Thomas W. Duncan consist of 8.5 linear feet of manuscripts dating from approximately 1940 to 1959. Arranged in order of publication, they document the writings of Ring Horse, Gus the Great, and Big River, Big Man. Included are early drafts and typescripts, notes and revisions, and galley proofs.

Box 1

Bibliography of works, Thomas Duncan, 1927-- 1964

Clippings, 1947-- 1987  

Correspondence, 1935, 1966 -- 1971

Magazine articles and essays about and authored by Thomas Duncan, 1947-- 1963

Obituary material on Thomas Duncan

Photographs, includes O, Chautauqua book jacket print, 1935

Ring Horse

Publisher's copy of manuscript, including preface to the new edition dated January 2, 1952.

Plot revision material, typescript, carbon, and handwritten.

Instructions for typist.

Corrected typescript, 73 pages.

Carbon typescript, including title page and preface to the new edition, 152 pages.

Book jacket

Gus the Great

Publisher's copy of manuscript, typescript with revisions, 1386 pages. (6 folders)

Corrected typescript, pages 93 -- 780. (2 folders)

Author's notes and revisions, typescript and handwritten, 64 pages.

"Style Sheets," handwritten typescript, 17 leaves and about 20 half-sheets.

Reviews and ads, September 20, 1947 - February 8, 1948.

Author's planning notes, handwritten and typescript.

"Portrait of Gus"

Typescript, 114 pages.

Corrected carbon typescript, 182 pages plus page 776.

Preface to new edition, corrected typescript and carbon, 6 pages total.

 Box 2

Gus the Great (cont.)

Corrected typescript. (2 folders)

Carbon typescript of portion of author's final copy, chiefly pages 633 -- 736.

Printed layout of front matter, 3 pages; letters, May 1, 1947 and undated; typewritten layout of front matter, 4 pages.

Galley proof inserts.

Final revisions.

Big River, Big Man

Notes on characters: The Pirates, Rolfe Torkelsen, Susan Hatfield, Myrtle Dobner, Newcomb Dobner, Lorne Buckmaster, Corky Ingram, Sol Klauber, Caleb McSwasey, Bonnie Fansler. (14 folders)

Maps of Juniper Falls, Quickwater and North Woods, New Empire, Lanceport; Floor plans of Fansler House and Winthrop & Marsh Store. (6 folders)


Politics, 1850's.


Chapter notes: Chapters VII, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI. (10 folders)

Working notes: 1950 --, 1955. (8 folders)

Newspaper article, "River Ramble," November 6, 1949.

Corrected typescript (some carbon), including discarded text interspersed with author's notes. (4 folders)

Discarded narrative, corrected typescript and some carbon. (2 folders)

Carbon typescript revisions. (2 folders)

 Box 3

Big River, Big Man (cont.)

Carbon typescript, pages 1 -- 26. (2 folders)

Carbon typescript, covering pages 1 -- 594. (5 folders)

Carbon typescript, including pages 399 -- 432, 595 -- 900. (5 folders)

 Box 4

Big River, Big Man (cont.)

Publisher's copy of typescript, 1,835 pages including title page and acknowledgments. (12 folders)

Book jacket additions from Italian translation, 1965

return to inventory
Go to top of page
Return to Inventory
of Page