The University of South Carolina's Thomas Cooper Library houses the literary papers of Kaye Gibbons, whose novels about self-reliant women in the rural South have made her a prominent figure in contemporary Southern fiction.
Gibbons' papers are the first major archive that the library has acquired from a contemporary Southern woman writer. They join the literary papers of John Jakes, Joseph Heller, George V. Higgins and James Ellroy.
Gibbons' archive goes beyond manuscripts to include her critical essays written as an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina and the storyboards that she used for plot development in her most recent novel. Her papers capture each stage of writing for her novels, some written in longhand, detailing revisions and thought processes.
"This is our most substantial archive yet for any Southern novelist, and for any woman novelist," said Dr. Patrick Scott, English professor and director of special collections for Thomas Cooper Library. "The archive shows Kaye Gibbons developing her fiction, and her style, for a variety of novels and other writing projects. Kaye Gibbons has succeeded in moving beyond her first success and producing a whole series of distinctively different later novels, while still keeping her own voice and viewpoint. She can write beautifully, and movingly, as well as provoking laughter that aches. This archive shows her at work on that writing."
The acquisition is a gift-purchase by the university and is funded partly by The Donna I. Sorensen Endowment: Southern Women in the Arts, which was established in 2004 by university President Andrew Sorensen in honor of his wife, Donna.
The endowment supports library acquisitions pertaining to Southern women in the arts, including music, literature, drama, painting and drawing and the decorative arts.
"I am delighted that we have secured this wonderfully valuable manuscript and related materials from Kaye Gibbons, a woman of stature and a remarkably talented author," said Donna Sorensen. "Our special-collections library is greatly enriched by this acquisition."