Libraries Acquire William Kennedy Papers
Karl Luntta (518) 437-4980
N.Y. (October 24, 2003) -- The University at Albany has acquired
the papers of Pulitzer-prize winning novelist William Kennedy,
a collection comprising some 70 boxes of manuscripts, film
scripts and memorabilia. The collection will be located in
the University at Albany Libraries' M.E. Grenander Department
of Special Collections & Archives to serve as a resource
for scholarly research on Kennedy's literary career, and on
the social, political and literary histories of the Capital
I first began talking about giving my papers to a library,"
Kennedy said, "I suspected that they would eventually
end up in Albany at the University. Now they have, and I'm
very grateful. The papers are the evidence of a writer educating
himself in storytelling, creating a prose style, and discovering
a voice - deciding what belonged in the final versions of
his books and what didn't. The books were written here in
Albany, and now here they'll stay."
deciding on the University at Albany, Kennedy was approached
by a number of institutions interested in the collection,
including the Houghton Library at Harvard, the University
of Texas at Austin and Boston University.
Kennedy's literary life brings to this University and to the
Albany region incalculable riches, and with the addition of
his papers to our wonderful M.E. Grenander Department of Special
Collections & Archives, our students and other scholars
will forever be able to share in the wealth of his imagination
and depth of his commitment to writing," said UAlbany
President Karen R. Hitchcock. "We are enormously honored."
is executive director of the UAlbany-based New York State
Writers Institute, which he founded, and joined the University
at Albany English Department in 1974. He is the author of
eight novels to date, The
Ink Truck his first. Seven subsequent works form his
ongoing Albany Cycle of novels -- all centered on his native
Albany during the 19th and 20th centuries. The most recent,
Roscoe, was chosen
as one of the seven best books of 2002 by the New
York Times, and one of the year's eight best books
by the American Library Association. Kennedy's Ironweed
won the Pulitzer Prize in 1984 and was chosen by the Modern
Library as one of the 100 best novels of the 20th century.
Other Kennedy works include Legs,
Billy Phelan's Greatest Game, Quinn's Book, Very Old Bones
and The Flaming Corsage, as well as two children's
books co-authored with his son Brendan, Charlie
Malarkey and the Belly Button Machine and Charlie
Malarkey and the Singing Moose. He has also published
two books of nonfiction, O
Albany!, an impressionistic history of his city, and
Riding the Yellow Trolley
Car, a collection of literary and critical essays.
Ironweed was made
into a film by Hector Babenco. Kennedy also co-wrote the screenplay
of The Cotton Club
with director Francis Ford Coppola.
was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in
1993 and the Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2002, and has
received numerous literary awards including a McArthur Foundation
Fellowship, a Regents Medal of Excellence from the State University
of New York, and a Governor's Arts Award. He was also named
a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters in France, and
is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
and the board of directors of the New York State Council for
acquisition of the Kennedy papers will be celebrated Wednesday,
Oct. 29, 1-4 p.m. on the Third Floor of the New Library, uptown
campus. The celebration will begin with the conversation "The
Kennedy Papers - Understanding the Creative Imagination,"
between William Kennedy and the University at Buffalo's Mark
Shechner, a professor of English. Shechner, a noted scholar
of contemporary writing, has written on the works of such
disparate writers as James Joyce and Philip Roth, and has
been a frequent reviewer of William Kennedy's novels.