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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Wallace Stegner Papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1957 - 1977
Creator: Stegner, Wallace (1909-1993)
Extent: 2.50 linear feet.
Collection Number: MSC0703
Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Summary: Award-winning novelist, story writer, essayist, historian, English professor at Stanford, and frontline conservationist. Preliminary drafts and proofs for seven novels.

Access: This collection is open for research.

Use: Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Acquisition: These papers were donated to the Libraries by Wallace Stegner over a period of years.

Preferred Citation: Wallace Stegner Papers, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.

Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Address: Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5921
Curator: Greg Prickman
Email: lib-spec@uiowa.edu
Website: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/sc

Wallace Stegner (1909-1993) was born in Lake Mills, Iowa. He was the second son of Hilda Emelia (Paulson) and George Henry Stegner. They lived a nomadic life moving from North Dakota, Washington, Saskatchewan, Montana and Wyoming before settling down in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1921. He and his brother, Cecil, grew up hunting, fishing, and exploring the West that he learned to admire and respect. Stegner graduated from the University of Utah in 1930. His professors arranged a teaching assistantship for him at the University of Iowa, so he could pursue his writing. He received his M.A. in 1932 and Ph.D. in 1935. While at Iowa he met his wife, Mary Page. After graduation they moved back to the West where he found a teaching position at the University of Utah. While there Stegner wrote Remembering Laughter, which won a novelette contest advertised by Little, Brown and Company. This marked the real beginning of his writing career. In 1937, he began teaching at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Two years later, he moved farther East and accepted a faculty post at Harvard. It was during his time there that he completed his first big novel, The Big Rock Candy Mountain. This autobiographical work was published in 1943. He remained at Harvard until 1945 when he moved back to the West and Stanford University. He served as the director of Stanford's Creative Writing Center from 1946-1971. His students included some of the most notable contemporary writers of the American West. Larry McMurtry, Edward Abbey, Thomas McGuane, and Ken Kesey are only a few who were part of Stanford's writing program during Stegner's years there. Retiring in 1971 to devote himself full-time to writing, Stegner went on to publish eleven more major works including the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Angle of Repose and the National Book Award winner of 1977, The Spectator Bird. These are only two of the many awards and honors he received for his writing; there were also three O. Henry prizes, a Commonwealth Gold Medal, and the Western History Association Prize. Wallace Stegner died on April 12, 1993, after being seriously injured in an automobile accident in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The Wallace Stegner Papers at the University of Iowa Libraries consist of three boxes containing various stages of manuscript drafts and proofs for a number of Stegner's works. Included are The Big Rock Candy Mountain, Remembering Laughter, Mormon Country, Beyond the Hundredth Meridian and more.

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