Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library, Texas Tech University

David James Duncan:

An Inventory of His Papers, 1959-2002 and undated, at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library

Descriptive Summary

Creator Duncan, David James
Title: David James Duncan Papers,
Dates: 1959-2002 and undated
Abstract: Papers of author David James Duncan from 1959-2002 and undated.
Collection # R15.1
Quantity: 9 boxes (7.8 linear feet)
Language English.
Repository: Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library, Texas Tech University

Biographical Sketch

David James Duncan, born in Portland, Oregon, in 1952, is a writer whose works include My Story as Told by Water, The Brothers K, The River Why, and River Teeth. His work deals with environmental issues, spiritual problems and fly-fishing. My Story as Told by Water, which was nominated for a National Book Award, expresses his concern about the possible extinction of the Pacific Northwest’s wild salmon. The River Why and The Brothers K received the Pacific Northwest Booksellers award. The Brothers K was also named a New York Times Notable Book in 1992 and won a Best Books Award from the American Library Association. Duncan currently lives in Montana.

A list of his publications includes:

  • Duncan, David James. The Brothers K. New York: Bantam, 1993.
  • Duncan, David James. River Teeth: Stories and Writings. New York: Doubleday, 1995.
  • Duncan, David James. The River Why. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books; [Berkeley]: Distributed by University of California Press, 2002.
  • Duncan, David James. My Story as Told by Water. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 2001.

Scope and Contents

The collection includes business and fan correspondence, manuscripts to published books and articles, reviews, some artifacts, miscellaneous publications, and lecture notes concerning David James Duncan’s writing career. Correspondents include Barry Lopez, Pattiann Rogers, Bill McKibben, William Kittredge, Sherman Alexie and Robert Michael Pyle.

The collection is in good condition and is part of the James Sowell Family Collection in Literature, Community and the Natural World.



The collection is organized by types of materials such as correspondence, literary production, and printed materials.


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research. Copyright is retained by the authors of items in this collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by U.S. copyright law.

Copy requests in excess of 5 pages must be approved by the donor or his representative.

Index Terms

The subject headings used by the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library are derived from the Library of Congress and/or locally developed.
Subjects (Persons)
Duncan, David James
Duncan, David James- --Archives
Duncan, David James- --Correspondence
Duncan, David James- --Manuscripts
Duncan, David James- --My Story as Told By Water
Duncan, David James- --The Brothers K
Duncan, David James- --The River Why
Duncan, David James- --River Teeth
Natural history--Northwest, Pacific
Fly fishing
Novelists, American
Salmon--Effects of dams on

Related Material

For related materials located in the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library, see the following collections:

  • David James Duncan Artifact Collection
  • David James Duncan Oversized Items
  • Rick Bass Papers, 1958-2001 and undated
  • Bill McKibben Papers, 1971-2001 and undated
  • Barry Lopez Papers, 1864-2001 and undated
  • Barry Lopez Audio Video Collection
  • Barry Lopez Photograph Collection
  • Barry Lopez Photograph Collection: Apológia
  • Doug Peacock Papers, 1950-2000 and undated
  • David Quammen Papers, 1956-1999 and undated
  • Pattiann Rogers Papers, 1960-1999 and undated
  • Annick Smith Papers, 1940-2000 and undated
  • William Kittredge Papers, 1954-2000 and undated
  • Max Crawford Papers, 1960-2000 and undated
  • Sandra Scofield Papers, 1958-2005 and undated
  • Gretel Ehrlich Papers, 1923-2005 and undated
  • Edward Hoagland Papers, 1953-2007 and undated

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

David James Duncan Papers, 1959-2002 and undated, Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas

Collection accession #(s):

Purchase, 2002

Processed by

Abel Ramirez, 2000. Correspondence re-processed by Bonnie Hanson and Dr. Diane Warner, 2008.

Collection Inventory



box folder
1 1 Sherman Alexie, includes cards, postcards, letters, e-mail, from Alexie, his wife, and assistant, includes poetry postcards (Philip Herter, Charley George), 1993-2000 and undated
2 James R. Babb, editor Gray’s Sporting Journal, 2000
3 Kim Barnes, includes Barnes’ draft manuscript with Duncan’s holographic notes, 1 DJD letter to Barnes, 1995-2000
4 Rick Bass, includes postcards, letters, 2 color photos, 1993-2002 and undated
5 Jim Beckmann, 1994-2002
6 Wendell Berry, 1982 and 2000
7 Deb Blue, includes manuscript, 1999-2001 and undated
8 Frank Boyden, 1988-2001 and undated
9 Annie Dillard, postcards, letter, 1995-2000 and undated
10 Jim Dodge (includes poems, broadside), 2000-2001 and undated
11 Brian Doyle, includes letters, postcards, e-mail, photocopies of articles and poems, 1993-2002
12 Ellie Duncan (daughter) and classmates, letters and drawings, May 31, 2000
13 Steve Duncan (brother), Christmas card, postcards, letters, 1996 and undated
14 Doug Frank (photograph appears on cover of River Teeth), includes 1 DJD letter, 1 photo, 1982-2002 and undated
15 Ian Frazier, 1 postcard, Sept. 27, 2000
16 John Frohnmayer, includes 1 letter from DJD, 1993-1994
17 Dan Glick, 1995 and 2000
18 Jim Harrison, 1981, 2001
19 Stanley Hauerwas, includes 2 Hauerwas essays: “On being a Christian and an American”; “September 11, 2001: a pacifist response,” 1998-2002
20 Lorian Hemingway, 1994 and undated
21 Jane Hirschfield, includes a broadsides of poems “Button” and “The Sweetness of Apples, of Figs,” 1997-2002
22 Dave Hughes (fly fishing writer), includes letter from Katey Jones, 1986-1987
23 Teresa Jordan, 1991-2000 and undated
24 Greg Keeler (poet), letters, postcards, Keeler essay “A democracy of anglers,” 1992-1994 and undated
25 William Kittredge, 1 postcard, undated
26 Ursula K. Le Guin, 1 postcard, 1 card, 1992, 1995
27 Craig Lesley, 1 postcard, 1 card, 2 letters, 1994-1995 and undated
28 Barry Lopez, letters postcards, includes Lopez essay “Natural grief” and Lopez story “The hitter,” 1991-2000
29 Daniel Mathews (Raven editions) letters, postcards, 1995-2001 and undated
30 Peter Matthiessen, letters, postcards, 2001 and undated
31 Tom McGuane, 1998-2001 and undated
32 Bill McKibben (1 letter), 1995
33 Stephanie Mills (1 letter), Feb. 8, 2001
34 Dick Morgan, 1984-1985 and undated
35 Laura A. Munson, includes Munson essay “Yard sale,” 1995-2001
36 Pat Musick, letters and postcards, 2001-2002
37 Kevin Oderman, includes letters, postcards, and photocopy of Oderman story “Go back on,” 1982-1994 and undated
38 Chris Offutt, 1995-2000, and undated
39 Jayne Anne Phillips, 1 Christmas card, 1 photocopy of Phillips essay “Home after dark,” 1998
40 Robert Michael Pyle, letters, postcards, e-mail, copy-edited proof of DJD article on Pyle, 1999-200 and undated
41 Pattiann Rogers, letters, postcards, Rogers poem “On the Eve of the Hearing” and essay “ Degree and Circumstance,” 1998-2001 and undated
42 Benjamin Saenz, 1 letter, undated
43 Scott Russell Sanders, 2001
44 Charles Schwenk, 1985-2000 and undated
45 Annick Smith, 1 letter, Sept. 28, 1996
46 Gary Snyder, 1987-1997 and undated
47 Kim Stafford, 1993-2000
48 Mark A. Stewart, 1982-1998
49 Chris Van Dyck, 1983-1985
50 Terry Tempest Williams, 1 postcard, July 10, 1999
51 Elizabeth Woody, includes two manuscript drafts, 1995-1999 and undated
52 Robert Wrigley, 1994-1998
53 Teri Zipf, 1994-1997
54 Sallie ______, 1992-1998
55 Phil A_____, 1991-2002 and undated
56 Keith _____, 1996 and undated
57 John (Henry’s TA at Harvard), May 5, 1998
58 David James Duncan, copies of letters from DJD, 1981-2002 and undated


Business Correspondence

box folder
1 59 Nature Conservancy, 1994-2000
60 Orion Society, 1995-2002 and undated
61 Sierra Club, 1982-2001 and undated
62 Thir$ty, A Theatre Spectacle About Water, 2000
63 University of Portland, 1998
64 Business correspondence, Jan-Aug., 2002
65 Business correspondence, 2001
66 Business correspondence, 2000
box folder
2 1 Business correspondence, 1999
2 Business correspondence, 1998
3 Business correspondence, 1997
4 Business correspondence, 1996
5 Business correspondence (includes photographs), 1990-1995
6 Business correspondence, 1978-1989
7 Business correspondence, undated


Correspondence, Personal and reader

box folder
2 8 Correspondence, personal and reader, 2002
9 Correspondence, personal and reader, Jan.-June 2001
10 Correspondence, personal and reader, July-Dec. 2001
11 Correspondence, personal and reader, Jan.-June 2000
12 Correspondence, personal and reader, July-Dec. 2000
13 Correspondence, personal and reader, 1999
14 Correspondence, personal and reader, 1998
15 Correspondence, personal and reader, 1997
16 Correspondence, personal and reader (includes photographs), 1996
17 Correspondence, personal and reader (includes photographs), Jan.-June 1995
18 Correspondence, personal and reader, July-Dec. 1995
19 Correspondence, personal and reader, 1994
box folder
3 1 Correspondence, personal and reader (includes Limberlost Press postcard and photographs), 1993
2 Correspondence, personal and reader, 1992
3 Correspondence, personal and reader, 1990
4 Correspondence, personal and reader, 1986-1989
5 Correspondence, personal and reader, 1981-1985
6 Correspondence, personal and reader, undated


Literary Production

box folder
3 7 Honduran Relief, by David Cates, undated
8 “A prayer for the Salmon’s Second Coming,” typescript pages and page proofs with corrections, 2000 and undated
9 “A Short History of the Farm,” by Michael Traugot, bound manuscript with correspondence, 1994-1999
10 “Bird Watching as a Blood Sport,” essay for reading with intro. DJD gave at talk, typescript with corrections, 1998
11 “Blood Knot,” fishing stories by Pete Fromm, manuscript with DJD’s notations on the text, 1997
12 College Writing, a four page example, undated
13 “Deborha,” a copy of “From These Roots,” with David James Duncan’s first story, 1959-1960
14 “DJD Blurbs,” blurbs written by David James Duncan for other authors, 1995-2002 and undated
15 “De Selby on the Godhead,” various drafts of an essay on Irish author Flann O’ Brien, undated
16 “Fearless Leader,” page proofs with some corrections, 2000
17 “Fight,” Typescript by DJD, undated
18 “Fishing in Finnegan’s wake,” by Robert H. Boyle, unbound manuscript with correspondence, 1999-2000
19 “Fishing Notes,” notes written after being in Mt. Lolo for four months, undated
20 “Hats,” an outtake from “The Brothers K,” undated
21 “How Much Gold is a River Worth,” copy of “New York Times” with David James Duncan’s Piece, 1997
22 “Interview,” interview by Doug Thorpe, for image magazine, several drafts with corrections, 2001 and undated
23 “Khwaja Khadir,” typescript and page proofs with corrections, 2000 and undated
24 Lecture Notes, lecture notes and manuscripts, many of which would later become essays, 1993-2002 and undated
25 Lecture Manuscripts, manuscripts for various lectures with numerous corrections, 2001-2002 and undated
26 “Living Bones and Sex-Crazed Shoes,” original version of bone-fishing piece in L.A. Times travel magazine, undated
27 “Meeting with a God,” page proofs with corrections, 2000
28 “My Story as Told by Water,” miscellaneous draft sections with corrections, fine-press edition of “Strategic Withdrawal,” and rejected cover, 2001-2002
box folder
4 1 “My Story as Told by Water,” manuscript page proofs with some corrections, 2000-2001
2 “My Story as Told by Water,” manuscripts, including reference materials and correspondence, 2001 and undated
3 “My Story as Told by Water,” book reviews, 2001
4 “My Story as Told by Water,” final manuscript, copy edited proofs with corrections, 2001
5 “My Story as Told by Water,” early bound manuscript, rough draft bearing variant titles, 1997 and undated
6 “My Story as Told by Water,” correspondence, permissions, cover art proofs, and miscellaneous, 1998-2000
7 “My Story as Told by Water,” miscellaneous page proofs with corrections, 2000-2001
8 “Natives,” and excerpt from “My Story as Told by Water,” typescript with corrections, 2001
9 “Old Dead Christmas,” miscellaneous unsorted manuscript pages with corrections abandoned early novel, 1974-1978 and undated
10 “Old Dead Christmas,” miscellaneous unsorted manuscript pages, with corrections, abandoned early novel, undated
11 Outtakes from, “The River Why,” “Two Kinds of Nothing,” and “An Angler’s Guide to Lord Byron,” undated
12 “Postmortem of a Parodist,” essay on Duncan’s parody of Peter Matthiessen’s “The Snow Leopard,” with parody, undated
13 Quotes, notes regarding fishing, Sufism, Buddhism, water, academic notes, etc., 1968-2002 and undated
14 “The Raven in Logan’s Body,” tearsheet from a short fiction piece published in Orion Magazine as non-fiction, 1999
15 “Risa’s Hadith,” one page excerpt from the unfinished novel, “Mahatma Gandhi’s Magic Word,” by David James Duncan, undated
16 “Seven Henry Stories,” page proofs with corrections, undated
17 “Song of Songs,” introduction for Judith Ernst’s “Song of Solomon,” two versions with illustrations and correspondence, 2002
18 “Song of the Salmon Sylph,” excerpt from an unfinished verse novella, with introduction, undated
19 “The Brothers K,” includes research materials for Vietnam sections of “The Brothers K,” a rejected dust cover, and interview with veteran, 1982-1988 and undated
20 “The Brothers K,” real prayer in “The Brothers K,” by Gayle L. Saxby, academic paper, 1995
21 “The Brothers K,” a rationale for the use of Duncan’s novel in senior Humanities,with a letter to Duncan, undated
box folder
5 1 “The Brothers K,” quotations used in “The Brothers K,” undated
2 “The Brothers K,” David James Duncan, early notes and draft, 1988-1989
3 “The Brothers K,” copy edited manuscript, part one, 1991-1992
4 “The Brothers K,” copy edited manuscript, part two, 1991-1992
5 “The Brothers K,” revised, copy edited proofs, 1991-1992
box folder
6 1 “The Brothers K,” reviews and tearsheets re: “The Brothers K,” 1992-1994 and undated
2 “The Brothers K,” miscellaneous drafts of various sections, with many corrections, includes publishers dust jacket, 1990-1992 and undated
3 “The Dow Jones Industrial Wildlife Refuge,” typewritten draft with corrections, unpublished novel, with proposal and summary, 1984 and undated
4 “The King of Epoxy,” multiple incomplete drafts, undated
5 “The River Teeth,” early manuscript with some holograph changes, undated
6 “The River Teeth,” one page of quotes for “The River Teeth,” undated
7 “The River Teeth,” book reviews, 1994-1995
8 “The River Why,” original typewritten manuscript, with authors corrections, undated
9 “The River Why,” a new afterward written by DJD twenty years later, entitled “Heart Work,” 2002 and undated
10 “The River Why,” “Side Channels,” outtakes with various cover illustrations, 1983 and undated
11 “The River Why,” screen play by Thomas A. Cohen and John Jay Osborn Jr., 1985
box folder
7 1 “The River Why,” reviews and fan correspondence, 1982-1984
2 “The River Why,” reviews and tearsheets, 1983-1984
3 “The River Why,” reviews, tearsheets, correspondence, and scrapbook material, 1981-1985
4 “The River Why,” original typewritten drafts of various sections of “The River Why,” with corrections, undated
5 “The River Why,” original typewritten drafts of various sections of “The River Why,” with corrections, undated
6 “The River Why,” original typewritten drafts of various sections of “The River Why,” with corrections, undated
7 “The River Why,” original typewritten drafts of various sections of “The River Why,” with corrections, undated
box folder
8 1 “The River Why,” original typewritten drafts of various sections of “The River Why,” with corrections, undated
2 “The River Why,” reviews and tearsheets, 1982-1983
3 “The Son Creates a World,” typescript of an abandoned story, undated
4 “The Temple on Monday,” by Tom Crawford, poetry manuscript with Duncan’s notations, undated
5 “The War for Norman’s River,” an excerpt, page proofs with corrections, 2001
6 “Thoreau on Water,” with forward by David James Duncan, 2000-2001
7 “Toxins in the Mother Tongue,” galley’s of the L.A. Times magazine article, 1994
8 “Toxins in the Mother Tongue,” page proofs, undated
9 “Who Owns The West?” page proofs with corrections, 1998
10 “Why Write?” copy of “Northern Lights,” with David James Duncan’s essay, 1998
11 “A Fertile Meadow Far from Town,” copy of Open Spaces Magazine with John Daniels article, a response to “A Writer’s Retreat In Oregon,” started by David Duncan and Frank Boyden, 1999-2000


Printed Material, 1978-2002 and undated

box folder
8 12 Various publications on, or about, David James Duncan and his work, 1992-2002
box folder
9 1 “Edge Walking on The Western Rim,” anthology including “The River Teeth,” by DJD, 1994
2 “Fly Fishing Tales,” copy with David James Duncan’s story, “The Line of Light,” 1994
3 “His Idiots,” copy of the North American Review, with David James Duncan’s first story, 1978
4 “The Miracle of The Yucatan,” copy of L.A. Times Magazine, with David James Duncan’s article, 1995
5 “The River Teeth,” copy of Pacific Northwest, with David James Duncan’s essay, 1994
6 “The River Teeth,” a journal of non-fiction narrative, 2001
7 “Salmon’s Second Coming,” a copy of Sierra, with David James Duncan’s essay, 2000
8 “Toxins in the Mother Tongue,” copy of L.A. Times Magazine with readers responses, 1994
9 “Toxins in the Mother Tongue,” copy of L.A. Times Magazine with David James Duncan’s article, 1994


Scrapbook Material, undated

box folder
9 10 Notes for VHS tape on miscellaneous takes, undated