Tulane University Acquires Archives of Anne Rice—New Orleans Novelist of Vampires and Witches

The archives of Anne Rice have found a new home in New Orleans, where Rice was born and many of her iconic novels, including 1976’s Interview with the Vampire, are set. Tulane University recently announced its acquisition of a large collection of the author’s papers, to be housed among the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library’s rare books and special collections.

Manuscript page from what became Interview with the Vampire
Courtesy of Tulane University's Howard-Tilton Memorial Library

The archives of Anne Rice have found a new home in New Orleans, where Rice was born and many of her iconic novels, including 1976’s Interview with the Vampire, are set. Tulane University recently announced its acquisition of a large collection of the author’s papers, to be housed among the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library’s rare books and special collections.

The Rice collection is a mixture of professional and personal materials. These include manuscripts and galley proofs with corrections in the margins, correspondence with publishers and editors, and research material from the process of developing Rice's novels, including old library cards. There are also personal diaries and correspondence, including many letters from fans, fan fiction, and fan illustrations. Numerous Rice novels were adapted for film and television, and the collection contains draft scripts. The archive also includes supplementary material from Rice’s late husband, Stan Rice, who was a visual artist and poet, and from Rice’s sister Alice Borchardt, who wrote fantasy and historical fiction. In addition to this archive, Rice has sold some items from her private library. When a heavily annotated copy of the Bible from Rice’s personal collection recently came onto the market, Tulane purchased it as an addition to this archive and the library’s existing collection of historically significant Bibles.

two page spread from graphic novel adaptation of The Tale of the Body Thief
Image from a graphic novel adaptation of The Tale of the Body Thief, one of the novels in the "Vampire Chronicles" series
Courtesy of Tulane University's Howard-Tilton Memorial Library

Once the collection is processed, it will be open to researchers—with the exception of some personal items like diaries, which Rice has asked Tulane to keep sealed until her death. David Banush, dean of libraries and academic information resources at the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, also noted that Tulane has the right to digitize materials in the collection, and that it does plan to “pursue some selective digitization once the collection is organized and described.” He estimated that processing the collection, which is approximately 150 linear feet, will take about 18 months. The library has hired an additional employee, on a temporary term appointment, to work specifically on this collection.

The acquisition was made possible thanks to a donation from Stuart Rose, a New Orleans native and parent of a Tulane graduate, as well as a rare book collector with an expansive collection. Rose has supported previous literary acquisitions and events at Tulane, such as enabling the university to sponsor the Shakespeare First Folio tour in 2016 and to put on a New Orleans jazz funeral in Stratford-upon-Avon to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, as well as funding conservation and a custom display case for the library’s volumes of John James Audubon’s Birds of America. When the Anne Rice archives came on the market, Rose, Banush, and Tulane Professor of English Michael Kuczynski put together a proposal for Tulane to acquire them—Kuczynski described this as a “passion project” for Rose, and an opportunity for Tulane to develop a “formidable writer’s archive.” The overall acquisitions process required coordination among the library, university administration, and university counsel’s office.

 

LOCAL FOCUS

Kuczynski identified an interest at Tulane in “libraries acquiring the archives of writers who are associated with their area,” and described Rice as “a commanding cultural figure in terms of the history of New Orleans and the place of New Orleans in popular culture.” Banush told LJ that Tulane and New Orleans are an appropriate home for these archives because “New Orleans is a city that really inspires a lot of Anne Rice’s work. Its spirit is suffused in all of those writings.” He also noted that Tulane is a major research university and that the collection falls into the library’s general collecting scope, to “document the unique culture of New Orleans in all of its manifestations.” Tulane is already home to other important New Orleans–related literary archives, including the papers of John Kennedy Toole and some materials from William Faulkner, who lived in the city for a time. Tulane is “very excited to be able to provide a permanent home for this work, which I think belongs here,” Banush said.

Tulane is planning programming around the archive, hopefully for autumn 2020. Ideally, it would coincide with October and Halloween, as a tribute to Rice’s “achievements as a gothic novelist” who “single-handedly turned the gothic, supernatural vampire novel into a serious literary form,” said Kuczynski. Events such as a symposium could showcase different aspects of Anne Rice’s career as a writer and public figure and could help contextualize her work in relation to other writers and cultural trends. Overall, said Kuczynski, “you don’t want to lose the fun in this—it’s an interesting challenge to do something that is fun and serious at the same time. That’s the kind of programming in which New Orleans specializes.”

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