Mary Lavin Papers 1953-1964 | English | SIU

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Mary Lavin Papers 1953-1964

The Mary Lavin Papers are made up largely of manuscripts of about twenty of Lavin's short stories, mainly those collected in The Great Wave and Other Stories (1961) and In the Middle of the Fields (1969). In addition, there are fragments of (or notes on) essays written by Lavin on the short story, as well as a few letters concerning the return of manuscripts from magazines. Other than some fragments of "The Pastor of Six Mile Bush" and "A Gentle Soul" (composed earlier than 1951) on the reverse of later stories and a draft of "Catharsis" from 1953, nearly all of the manuscripts in the collection are dated 1958-1964. This large collection contains manuscripts of all but five of the stories from The Great Wave and all but one, "The Mock Auction," from In the Middle of the Fields. There are multiple versions of most of the stories in the collection, many in Lavin's hand, including fifteen to twenty drafts each of a number of stories and more than thirty drafts of "A Lucky Pair," "The Cuckoo Spit" and "One Summer." The collection documents Lavin's lengthy composing process, showing how carefully each story is reworked before it is ready for publication. The more than forty drafts of "One Summer," for example, range from August 1962 to October 1965.

Additional Mary Lavin holdings include letters and parts of manuscripts. Altogether there are eight letters dating from 1963 to 1977 as well as holograph fragments of drafts of her short story "The Cuckoo Spit," and her novel Mary O'Grady. The correspondence primarily concerns various publication discussions about her work. Correspondents include Denys Val Baker, The New Yorker, and Lord Dunsany. Lord Dunsany wrote eight letters to Lavin encouraging her writing and offering publishing advice. One file contains a forty-six page xerox copy of Lavin's thesis, entitled "The Construction of the Novel and Jane Austen," completed in 1936 at the National University of Ireland.