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Handwritten Pat Conroy manuscripts being archived

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 16, 2014 at 2:54 pm •  Published: May 16, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Best-selling author Pat Conroy said Friday he's proud to have a vast collection of his papers and memorabilia kept in his "literary home" of South Carolina, where scholars will be able to study handwritten manuscripts of works like "The Great Santini" for years to come.

Thousands of pages of papers, scrapbooks and more are being archived at the University of South Carolina, in the state that is the setting for most of Conroy's works.

He recalled that when his mother drove the family into the state decades ago to follow his military father's career, "I didn't know that when I crossed into South Carolina, it was my literary home."

"My papers belong here," said Conroy, 68. "I wanted them here, I am happy they are here, I am proud they are here."

The author said they could have gone to his alma mater, The Citadel in Charleston, but the military school didn't have the storage capacity to maintain them.

Because Conroy does not use a typewriter or computer, the collection includes 10,000 handwritten pages of all his varied drafts, from early work "The Water is Wide," through "The Prince of Tides," ''The Lords of Discipline," and "My Reading Life."

Conroy's works consistently top best-seller lists and remain there for weeks. Several have been made into movies, including "The Prince of Tides," which Barbra Streisand starred in and directed. Conroy co-wrote the screenplay, which garnered him an Academy Award nomination.

Included are 80 scrapbooks of letters, photos and news clippings put together by Conroy's late father, Don, the abusive Marine Corps pilot who inspired Conroy's novel "The Great Santini." Baby books, childhood compositions, movie scripts, love letters, divorce papers, even financial records are all included.

Dean of University Libraries Tom McNally, who negotiated the acquisition for the library with a bookseller friend of Conroy's, said the archive was acquired for the university through a donation made by USC alum Richard Smith of Columbia and his wife Novelle in memory of Richard's mother Dorothy. McNally declined to describe the cost of the purchase. It will include everything Conroy writes in the future, the dean added.

"This collection will bring scholars from all over the world. They will come, hungry to look at this collection, because you can see handwritten draft after handwritten draft, following by typed versions, and more handwritten drafts, up to the final publication," McNally said. An assistant transcribes Conroy's work.

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