A Guide to the Rick Bass Papers, 1982-1994
Novelist, essayist, and short story writer Rick Bass was born March 7, 1958, in Fort Worth, Texas. He was raised in Houston and graduated with a B.S. in Geology from Utah State University in 1979. Employed as a petroleum geologist in Mississippi from 1979 to 1987, Bass has since written full time on environmental issues and the vanishing wilderness. Bass has been an active environmentalist and member of the Sierra Club, Montana Wilderness Association, Cabinet Resources Group, Round River Conservation Studies, and the Yaak Valley Forest Council. He regularly publishes articles in magazines such as Field and Stream, Sports Afield , Gray’s Sporting Journal, Outdoor Life, and others. Bass and his wife Elizabeth moved to Montana’s Yaak Valley in 1987, where Bass finds the isolation he requires to write.
Describing Bass’s storytelling voice, Leigh Tillman Partington writes that Bass tells a story “true, strong, and intimate; the details of his language are lush and pure, providing just the right amount of landscape and inner turmoil. Above all, his stories are about precarious balances: between men and women, children and adults, friends, lovers, and between humans and the natural world. His language reflects that balance. Like Eudora Welty, to whom he is often compared, Bass plays close attention to inner and outer surfaces, watching where and how they meet, and he captures those meeting places on the page” (Contemporary Southern Writers, 1999).
The Rick Bass papers are comprised of manuscripts, galley proofs, notes, clippings, correspondence, legal papers, photographs and artifacts, 1924 to the present, relating to Bass’ career as a novelist. Series include Works, Clippings and Reviews, Writing Related Files, Environmental Concerns, General Correspondence, and Personal. The largest of these series is the first, Works, which is comprised mainly of photocopied pages from Bass’ handwritten notebooks which serve as the forum for Bass’ ideas and notes.
Series I: Works, 1984-1994, n.d., Bulk 1991-1994 This series surveys Bass’ works from his earliest published pieces to his more recent articles and stories. In this series are manuscripts for The Watch, Oil Notes, The Ninemile Wolves, Winter: Notes from Montana, as well as notes for The Deer Pasture and short stories published in Platte River. The series also contains numerous short stories and essays, research notes, journal notes, reviews, and interviews. Most of the non-fiction manuscripts relate in some way to Bass’ intense relationship with nature and concern for the environment, although they also concern his writing career.
The bulk of this series is comprised of photocopied pages from the notebooks in which Bass does most of his writing, and also contains manuscript pages, typed drafts, computer disks, galley proofs, and published pieces, many of which are heavily annotated. Not all of the manuscripts are complete; many lack pages, while others contain only Bass’ notes or are partially finished. It is important to note that the backs of his papers often contain notes to other manuscripts, correspondence, and other information, since Bass recycles paper by using both sides. Some notes are on scraps, and in one case, a note is written on a piece of bark. Sent to the Southwestern Writers Collection in small pieces at a time, the manuscripts have been arranged alphabetically by the processor.
Series II: Clippings and Reviews, 1987-1994 Materials in this series include clippings and reviews regarding works published by Bass, and have been arranged chronologically.
Series III: Writing Related Files, 1982-1994, n.d., Bulk 1988-1994 These files are comprised of editorial correspondence regarding Bass’ writing and its publication, correspondence and ephemera related to author readings and booksignings, course description and coursework related to fiction and non-fiction college writing courses taught by Bass, audiocassette tapes and a full transcript of an interview with Scott Slovic regarding Bass' writing career.
Series IV: Environmental Concerns, 1990-1994 Flyers, clippings, and correspondence in this series include letters to and from Bass regarding environmental legislation and policy.
Series V: General Correspondence, 1987-1993, n.d. Subjects in this series include oil and mineral leases and real estate transactions made by Rick Bass (1987-1988), while later correspondence is more general in nature, not related specifically to works by Bass.
Series VI: Personal, 1989, 1993, n.d. This series is comprised of memorabilia such as dog medical records and hunting licenses, travel documents, childhood and adult photographs of Bass, family papers and news clippings.
Series VII: Artifacts, n.d. This series includes personal effects of Bass such as a chainsaw blade, notes he wrote on a piece of tree back, two Walkman radios, and two old license plates.
Open for research.
Gifts donated by Rick Bass and Scott Slovic since 1991.
Jennifer B. Patterson, September, 1994; Inventory revised by Brandy Harris, 2005.
Detailed Description of the Collection