NIU acquires manuscripts of noted author

Lois McMaster Bujold
Lois McMaster Bujold

The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at NIU Libraries has landed a major new acquisition, thanks to a generous donation from renowned science fiction and fantasy author Lois McMaster Bujold.

Bujold has donated the first of several expected installments of her manuscripts.

Lynne M. Thomas, curator of Rare Books and Special Collections, said the gift is a major coup, considering Bujold is the winner of five Hugo Awards, among the highest honors presented for science fiction and fantasy writing. Four of those awards were for the best novel of the year, while the other was earned for best novella. She also won three Nebula Awards, which recognize the best works as voted upon annually by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America’s professional membership.

Lynne M. Thomas
Lynne M. Thomas

“This is the most significant acquisition of science fiction and fantasy manuscripts we have made thus far, in terms of critical and award recognition and name recognition,” Thomas said. “Lois’s papers are a key addition to our collections of late 20th century science fiction and fantasy writing, as her work has directly or indirectly influenced a large number of the writers already held in our collections.”

Bujold, a Minnesota-based author originally from Ohio, finished her first novel in 1983. Some of her more notable works include “Paladin of Souls,” “The Mountains of Mourning,” “Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance” and “Mirror Dance.”

Her donation includes early drafts, final drafts, proofs, submission copies, foreign editions of books and more.

“The most unique items are certainly my early handwritten first drafts, in pencil on notebook paper,” said Bujold, describing some of the work included in her donation. “I suppose the earliest manuscripts are of the most sentimental value to me, as I was learning to become a writer by doing.”

Her initial gift includes papers for titles such as “Cetaganda,” “Women at War” and “Falling Free,” the 1988 Nebula Award winner.  Ultimately, NIU is expected to receive all of Bujold’s manuscripts.

Thomas has been corresponding with Bujold and working to obtain the collection for eight years. Thomas even offered to arrange for transportation of the materials to NIU Libraries, a courtesy other universities had not offered.

“I am deeply proud to be hosting her papers,” Thomas said. “They are the centerpiece of our collection.”

NIU’s science fiction and fantasy writers collection includes the papers of more than 60 authors, many of them award-winning.

The library’s Rare Books and Special Collections department also holds the 20th World Science Fiction Convention Collection, which features correspondence related to the 1962 WorldCon.

Many of these collections are fully processed and available to researchers. Once processed, the Bujold papers will also be made available.

In all, Rare Books and Special Collections holds more than 125,000 volumes. This includes  research-level collections of popular literature and culture in the United States from the 19th century forward, emphasizing dime novels, comic books and children’s fiction, as well as the science fiction and fantasy genre.

The extensive teaching collections promote exploration from the beginnings of the technology of writing to the present. Materials are available to members of the NIU community and the general public for consultation from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and by appointment.

For more information, call (815) 753-0255 or email lmthomas@niu.edu.

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