The Harry Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin, has acquired the archive of Nobel Prize-winning writer and University of Texas at Austin alumnus J. M. Coetzee. Spanning more than 50 years, the archive traces the author’s life and career from 1956 through the present.
“My association with The University of Texas goes back almost half a century,” said Coetzee. “It is very satisfying to me to know that my papers will find a home at the Ransom Center, one of the world’s great research collections.”
Coetzee was born in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1940 and graduated from the University of Cape Town. After working three years as a computer programmer in England, he enrolled in The University of Texas at Austin in 1965 to pursue his Ph.D. in English, linguistics and Germanic languages, which he earned in 1969. While at the university, he conducted research in the Ransom Center’s collections for his dissertation on the early fiction of Samuel Beckett.
Coetzee is an acclaimed novelist, academic and literary critic. Influenced by his personal history of growing up in South Africa, he writes with strong anti-imperialist feelings. He has published 13 books, including “Life & Times of Michael K” in 1983 and “Disgrace” in 1999. Both novels received the Man Booker Prize, awarded each year for best full-length novel, making Coetzee the first author to receive the award twice. His novel, “Waiting for the Barbarians” (1980), was adapted into an opera by composer Philip Glass.
“Known for his spare, striking and powerful prose, J. M. Coetzee has left an indelible mark on our culture,” said Ransom Center Director Thomas F. Staley. “He writes brilliantly of his native home of South Africa, but the themes and conflicts he explores in his works are universal. We are delighted that his remarkable archive will be available for study at the Ransom Center.”
Approximately 155 document boxes, five filing cabinet drawers and an additional eight storage boxes of journals, manuscripts, correspondence, and business documents comprise the archive.
Included are notebooks and manuscripts in various draft forms for many of Coetzee’s works of fiction and autobiography, from early works such as “In the Heart of the Country” (1977) to materials related to his forthcoming revised edition of “Scenes from Provincial Life” (2011).