Scope and Contents
The Ursula K. Le Guin papers document Le Guin's career as a novelist, short story writer, children’s author, essayist, and poet best known for her world-building science fiction and fantasy works. Her papers not only capture her public persona as an author, a teacher and mentor of other writers, and an activist for various causes throughout her lifetime, but also as a private individual devoted to the welfare of her family, friends, and community. The papers include correspondence, literary works, legal and financial files, public appearances and publicity materials, personal papers, photographs and artwork, audiovisual material, website and social media, and writing of others.
The correspondence series is arranged in ten categories: Literary agents, publishers, fan letters, other authors, paraliterary, transformative use, engagements, requests, family and friends, and email. Email is currently unprocessed.
The literary works series documents Le Guin’s literary career and output of works written between 1948 and 2016. Materials include documents related to Le Guin’s novels, short stories, essays, talks, literary criticism, children’s books, poetry, performance works and adaptations, and other writing. For example, this series includes Le Guin's handwritten first drafts of A Wizard of Earthsea, The Left Hand of Darkness, and many other early novels and short stories.
The legal and financial files series includes publication agreements, letters of permission, royalty statements, and payments. There are transmittal and some negotiation letters. Documents relating to retirement, taxes, investments, trusts, ledgers, and contracts are also included in this series. This series is closed pending redaction of personal identifiable information. Researchers requiring access to individual files must notify Special Collections and University Archives in advance.
The public appearances and publicity series contains documentation regarding events and workshops attended or taught by Le Guin, written interviews, and an assortment of book reviews and clippings sent to Le Guin by publishers, colleagues, and fans.
The personal papers series contains a variety of material related to Le Guin’s personal life, including collegiate essays and theses; journals and notes; family writings, clippings, and remembrances; literary awards; and collected clippings, travel ephemera, and art.
The photographs and artwork series contains photographic prints and slides depicting Le Guin’s family, travels, and professional events and exhibits, as well as artwork by Henk Pander, broadsides, and the artist's book “Direction of the Road.”
The audiovisual series contains audiovisual material in a variety of formats relating to Le Guin’s professional life. Interviews, public appearances, audiobooks, adaptations, interpretations, collaborations, and other collected tapes are included in this series. Sound recordings and moving images in this collection require the production of listening or viewing copies. Researchers requiring access must notify Special Collections and University Archives in advance and pay fees for reproduction services as necessary.
The website and social media series comprises Ursula K. Le Guin's website and social media accounts, including her website, blog, Facebook account, and Instagram account. Digital files in this collection may require a file transfer or must be viewed in the Special Collections and Archives Reading Room. Researchers requiring access must notify Special Collections and University Archives in advance and pay fees for reproduction services as necessary.
The writing of others series contains scholarship and academic press, literary manuscripts and publications, transformative works, and trade and science fiction publications sent to and collected by Le Guin between 1941 and 2015.
- circa 1930s-2018
- Majority of material found within 1941-2018
- Le Guin, Ursula K., 1929-2018 (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time. The correspondence series in boxes 253 is closed until 2069 by request of the donor. Electronic mail messages are currently unavailable while being processed. No access will be granted until processing is complete. For more information, please contact Special Collections and University Archives. Selected email correspondence is closed for access until 2043. The legal and financial files series in boxes 149-170 is closed pending redaction of personal identifiable information in the material. Researchers requiring access to individual files must notify Special Collections and University Archives in advance. Collection includes sound recordings, moving images, and digital files to which access is restricted. Access to these materials is governed by repository policy and may require the production of listening or viewing copies. Researchers requiring access must notify Special Collections and University Archives in advance and pay fees for reproduction services as necessary.
Conditions Governing Use
Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.
Biographical / Historical
Ursula K. Le Guin was an internationally renowned Oregonian novelist, short story writer, children’s author, essayist, and poet best known for her world-building science fiction and fantasy works.
Ursula Kroeber was born on October 21, 1929 in Berkeley, California to author Theodora Kroeber and anthropologist Alfred Louis Kroeber. Le Guin had three older brothers, Clifton, Theodore, and Karl.
Le Guin graduated from Berkeley High School in 1947 and entered Radcliffe College where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Renaissance French and Italian Literature in 1951. She then enrolled in Columbia University, where she completed a Master of Arts in French in 1952, and began working toward a PhD in Medieval French poetry on a Fulbright scholarship. While en route to study in France, Ursula met historian Charles Le Guin. Following a two-month courtship, they married in Paris in 1953. The couple returned to the United States where Charles finished his doctorate at Emory University. Together they had three children, Elisabeth, Caroline, and Theodore.
In 1958, the Le Guins settled in Portland, Oregon, where Charles took a permanent position as a professor of French history at Portland State University. While Le Guin had shown an early interest in fantastic worlds and creative writing as a child, it was during this stable, domestic period of her life that she truly began to explore her craft. Her first published works, a poem entitled “Folksong from the Montayna Province” published in 1959, and a short story, “An die Musik,” published in 1961, were both set in the fictional country of Orsinia, an imaginary Eastern European country that she had created while attending Radcliffe. Following a large number of encouraging, but nonetheless disappointing, rejections from mainstream publishers, Le Guin turned to science fiction outlets who readily accepted her imaginative and inventive tales of fictional countries and worlds. Her first novel, Rocannon’s World, was published by Ace Books in 1966.
In 1968, at the age of thirty-nine, Le Guin finally began to have critical success. Her young adult fantasy, A Wizard of Earthsea, followed by 1969’s other-worldly science fiction masterpiece, The Left Hand of Darkness, continue to be hailed as her most groundbreaking works. Both books have remained continuously in print for over fifty years.
Over the course of her career, Le Guin published seven books of poetry, twenty-two novels, over a hundred short stories collected in eleven volumes, four collections of essays, twelve books for children, and four volumes of translation. She taught writing for many years, both as a visiting professor and workshop leader, officially retiring from teaching in 2015. She has been honored numerous times by both science fiction and other literary organizations. Among the many honors she has received are a National Book Award, five Hugo Awards, five Nebula Awards, SFWA’s Grand Master, the Kafka Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Howard Vursell Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the L.A. Times Robert Kirsch Award, the PEN/Malamud Award, the Margaret A. Edwards Award, and in 2014 the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.
Though Le Guin led an intensely private life, she was deeply committed to many political causes. Describing herself as a “peace activist, pro-choice, environmentalist,” she championed feminist activism, political and intellectual freedom, anti-racism, and the preservation of her beloved Western American landscape through her writing and outspoken political participation.
Ursula K. Le Guin died at her home in Portland, Oregon on January 22, 2018.
140.25 linear feet (269 containers ) : 240 manuscript boxes; 2 half manuscript boxes; 11 record storage boxes; 14 oversize boxes; 2 oversize folders
Language of Materials
Ursula K. Le Guin was an internationally renowned Oregonian novelist, short story writer, children’s author, essayist, and poet best known for her world-building science fiction and fantasy works. The papers include correspondence, literary works, legal and financial files, public appearances and publicity material, personal papers, photographs and artwork, audiovisual material, website and social media, and writing of others.
The Ursula K. Le Guin papers are arranged in nine series:
I. Correspondence, 1952-2018
II. Literary Works, 1948-2016
III. Legal and financial files, 1962-2016
IV. Public appearances and publicity,1967-2016
V. Personal papers, 1944-2015
VI. Photographs and artwork, circa 1930s-2014
VII. Audiovisual material, circa 1972-2010
VIII. Website and social media, circa 2000s
IX. Writing of others, 1941, 1964-2015
Series I. Correspondence is arranged in ten subseries:
A. Literary agents, 1968-2015
B. Publishers, 1961-2015
C. Fan letters, 1955-2017
D. Other authors, 1961-2016
E. Paraliterary, 1966-2007
F. Transformative use, 1976-2010
G. Engagements, 1952-2018
H. Requests, 1971-2016
I. Family and friends, 1953-2016
J. Electronic mail messages, circa 1990s-2018
Series II. Literary works is arranged in seven subseries:
A. Novels, 1952-2010
B. Short stories and edited collections, circa 1952-2016
C. Essays, talks, and criticism, circa 1970-2016
D. Children’s books, circa 1952-2009
E. Poetry, 1948-2012
F. Performance works and adaptations, 1948-2004
G. Other writing, 1958-2015
Series IV. Public appearances and publicity is arranged in three subseries:
A. Events and workshops, 1971-2016
B. Interviews, 1971-2009
C. Book reviews and clippings, 1967-2016
Series V. Personal papers is arranged in five subseries:
A. Student material, 1944-1991
B. Biographical material, personal journals, and notes, circa 1970s-2015
C. Family papers and ephemera, 1976-2007
D. Awards and artifacts, 1970-2013
E. Collected clippings and ephemera, circa 1969-2012
Series VI. Photographs and artwork is arranged in three subseries:
A. Photo prints, circa 1930s-2014
B. Slides, circa 1968-1996
C. Artwork, circa 1970s-2007
Series VII. Audiovisual material is arranged in four subseries:
A. Interviews and public appearances, circa 1970s-2010
B. Audiobooks, circa 1970s-2008
C. Adaptations, interpretations, and collaborations, circa 1972-2007
D. Collected tapes, circa 1980s-2002
Series IX. Writing of others is arranged in four subseries:
A. Scholarship and academic press, 1971-2013
B. Literary manuscripts and publications, 1941-2014
C. Transformative works, 1977-2015
D. Trade and science fiction publications, 1964-1998
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Ursula K. and Charles A. Le Guin, 1970s-2018.
Duplicate publications were individually cataloged as part of the Oregon Collection, located in Special Collections and University Archives.
Obituaries and memorial remembrances/tributes written by other authors at the occasion of Le Guin's death are available upon request in the reading room.
This collection was originally processed by Kate Sullivan, Chris Hitt, Sarah Goss, and Gwen Amsbury in 2003. Additional processing completed by Joyce Griffith, Liliya Benz, Alexandra M. Bisio, Nathan Georgitis, and Alexa Goff in 2019.
- American fiction -- Women authors Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- American literature -- 20th century Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- American literature -- Women authors Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Anarchism Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Fan magazines -- Specimens Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Feminism -- United States Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Feminism and literature Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Feminist fiction, American -- Authorship Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Feminists -- United States -- Correspondence Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Science fiction Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Science fiction -- History and criticism Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Science fiction -- Women authors Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Science fiction, American -- Authorship Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Utopias in literature Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Women and literature Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Women authors, American -- 20th century -- Correspondence Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Guide to the Ursula K. Le Guin papers
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- Joyce Griffith, Liliya Benz, Alexandra M. Bisio, Nathan Georgitis, and Alexa Goff
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