Walker Percy papers, 1910-1992.

Creator: Percy, Walker, 1916-1990.
Collection number: 4294
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Abstract: Walker Percy was raised in Georgia, Alabama, and Greenville, Miss., and lived most of his adult life in Covington, La. He was the author of six published novels: “The Moviegoer” (1961), “The Last Gentleman” (1966), “Love in the Ruins” (1971), “Lancelot” (1977), “The Second Coming” (1980), and “The Thanatos Syndrome” (1987). He also wrote “The Gramercy Winner” and “The Charterhouse,” neither of which was published during his lifetime. Works of non-fiction include “The Message in the Bottle” (1975), “Lost in the Cosmos” (1983), and “Symbol and Existence: A Study in Meaning” (collected essays, unpublished as a collection). He also wrote numerous short stories, book reviews, philosophical pieces relating to language and to religion, especially Catholicism. The collection includes drafts, notes, and other materials relating to all of Percy’s major works and to many of his shorter efforts. Also included are subject files containing source materials and other items relating to authors and topics in which he was particularly interested, including religious themes in literature and the intellectual life of the American South. There are also materials relating to John Kennedy Toole’s “A Confederacy of Dunces” (1980), which Percy helped publish. The collection contains a large amount of correspondence with authors, critics, and others. Most significant among Percy’s correspondents were Shelby Foote, a life-long friend; Caroline Gordon, who, in the early 1950s, offered Percy in-depth critiques of his work and pointers on writing in general; and Donald Barthelme, who wrote about Percy’s submissions to the journal “Forum.” Other correspondents include Zoltan Abadi Nagy, Malcolm Bell, Cleanth Brooks, Gary M. Ciuba, James Collins, Ansley Cope, John William Corrington, Robert Woodham Daniel, John N. Deely, Clifton Fadiman, Robert Giroux, Peter Handke, Paul Horgan, Kenneth Laine Ketner, Victor A. Kramer, Bernald Malamud, Jacques Maritain, Doug Marlette, Thomas Merton, Flannery O’Connor, Walter J. Ong, J. F. Powers, Thomas A. Sebeok, Elizabeth Spencer, Lewis P. Simpson, Allen Tate, Mark Taylor, Henry Babcock Veatch, Eudora Welty, and C. Vann Woodward. There are also over 200 formal and informal photographs, most of Percy with his family, including his uncle William Alexander Percy, but some of Percy with Pope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, Nancy Reagan, Eudora Welty, Cleanth Brooks, C. Vann Woodward, Elizabeth Spencer, Louis D. Rubin Jr., Ernest Gaines, Shelby Foote, and others. Also included are several hats and a sweater belonging to Percy.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights: Image P-4294/152 is a 1989 photograph of a meeting of the Fellowship of Southern Writers in Chattanooga, TN, which includes noted African American author Ernest Gaines. Gaines is the author of seminal works such as A Lesson Before Dying and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pitman.