University of Texas, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Doris Lessing:

A Preliminary Inventory of Her Papers at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Descriptive Summary

Creator Lessing, Doris May
Title Doris Lessing Papers
Dates: 1940s-1999
Abstract: The papers include novels, short stories, and plays for stage, television, and film, non-fiction, works including adaptations, articles, essays, and lectures, as well as reviews of works of this British author.
RLIN Record #
Extent 45 boxes, 9 galleys (18.9 linear feet)
Language English.
Repository: Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin

Scope and Contents

This collection of Doris Lessing material, which she personally arranged in 33 numbered bundles, underwent a modest transformation and listing by the dealer, Bertram Rota, before shipment to the Ransom Center. The material is grouped by works as received, with some rearrangement to achieve alphabetical order. Included are novels, short stories, and plays for stage, television, and film, non-fiction, works including adaptations, articles, essays, and lectures, as well as reviews. Because Ms. Lessing did not retain most of her early manuscripts, this collection lacks much of her work from the 1950s and 1960s, such as The Grass Is Singing, the Children of Violence series, Going Home, The Habit of Loving, The Golden Notebook, A Man and Two Women, and African Stories. However, a few early plays and short stories are present. Her later publications are particularly well-represented including the Canopus in Argos series, her two autobiographies, and most recent novel Mara and Dann. Very little correspondence is present, except for exchanges with publishers A. A. Knopf, Jonathan Cape, and HarperCollins, as well as editors, agents, and personal mail, mostly pertinent to her publications and tours.

The collection is organized in two series: Series I. Works, 1940s-1999, and Series II. Reviews and Tours. The works encompass a variety of literary formats and are listed in a single alphabet. Whether a short story or a novel, Ms. Lessing composed directly on a typewriter, but did make extensive holograph corrections. Some of the corrections take the form of added sections which she paper-clipped to the typescript, usually as an overlay to the original passage. These have been left as received and the reader is cautioned to handle these manuscripts with care. Additionally, many pages have small tears and folds which require cautious handling. There are many versions of corrected typescripts, often identified as successive drafts. Production materials typically stem from Knopf editions; other publishers are indicated in the folder list where appropriate. Ms. Lessing's original folders with holograph descriptions are retained throughout.

Series II contains numerous reviews of Ms. Lessing's works which appeared in newspapers and magazines worldwide. The tours in this series document the trips she made in connection with books tours and to receive awards such as the 1982 Shakespeare Prize. She travelled extensively in the 1980s, visiting Europe, Africa, Japan, North America, Australia, and Argentina, often arranging to meet with students at various colleges and universities in addition to her other commitments.



Open for research

Administrative Information


Purchase, 1999 (Reg. no. 14457)

Processed by

Liz Murray, 1999

Doris Lessing Papers--Folder List


Series I. Works, 1940s-1999

box folder
1 1 African Laughter, nonfiction, 1992
2-3 "As I Was Walking up the High Street,"play, 1967
"Between Men,"play, adapted for television, 1967
box folder
1 4-5 Mimeograph stencils
6 Camera scripts
7 Rehearsal scripts
8 Michael Hasting's adaptation, first draft and preliminary sketch
box folder
2 1 "The Black Madonna,"short story, late 1940s
2 "The Bones of the Dead,"play for television, 1967
Briefing for a Descent into Hell, novel, 1972
box folder
2 3 Notes
4 Setting copy
Galley prints [removed to galley folder]
Canopus in Argos: Archives, novel series
Documents Relating to the Sentimental Agents in the Volyen Empire, 1983
box folder
2 5-9 Typescripts
box folder
3 1 Setting copy
The Making of the Representative for Planet 8, 1982
box folder
3 2-4 Typescript and galley prints [galleys removed to galley folder]
5 Copy edited manuscript
6 Setting copy
The Marriages between Zones Three, Four, and Five, 1980
box folder
4 1-3 Typescript and galley prints [galleys removed to galley files]
4 Setting copy
Re: Colonised Planet 5, Shikasta, 1979
box folder
4 5-6 Typescripts and galley prints [galleys removed to galley files]
box folder
5 1-5 Typescripts, cont'd
box folder
6 1-2 Setting copy
3 Correspondence with Knopf and editorial notes
4 Uncorrected proof, Jonathan Cape edition
The Sirian Experiments, 1981
box folder
6 5-7 Typescript and galley prints
[galleys removed to galley files]
box folder
7 1-4 Typescripts, cont'd
5 Rewrites?
6-7 Setting copy
box folder
8 1 "Care and Protection,"play for television, 1966
2 Rehearsal script
Diary of a Good Neighbour, [Jane Somers] novel, 1983
box folder
8 3-6 Typescripts
box folder
9 1-3 Typescripts, cont'd
4-5 Mockup page layout
The Doris Lessing Reader, anthology, 1988;
box folder
9 6 Setting copy
box folder
10 1-2 Setting copy, cont'd
3-4 Page proofs, roughs
box folder
11 1 Page proofs, roughs, cont'd
2-3 "Each His Own Wilderness,"play, ca. 1958
4 "Events in the Skies,"essay, ca. 1987
The Fifth Child, novel, 1988
box folder
11 5-6 Typescripts
7 Setting copy
8 First pass page proofs
box folder
12 1 Repros
2 "The Fifth Child,"screenplay by Ruth Graham, 1992;
never produced
3-6 The Four-Gated City, novel, vol. 5 of Children of Violence, setting copy, 1969
The Good Terrorist, novel, 1985
box folder
13 1-6 Typescripts
box folder
14 1-3 Typescripts, cont'd
4 Advance proof copy
5 "The Grass is Singing, "adapted for radio by Michael Kittermaster, first draft, produced 1976
"The Habit of Loving (Love Story)," adapted for television, 1963
box folder
14 6-8 Typescripts
9 Camera script, file copy
box folder
15 1 Camera script, marked "Catherine"
2 Rehearsal script with rehearsal schedule
3 Discarded pages
4 Spanish version, 1964
5-8 If the Old Could..., [Jane Somers] novel, 1984
box folder
16 1-4 "Impertinent Daughters"and "My Mother's Life,"articles; 1984-86, 1991
5 "Inside Outside,"synopsis for television script, 1966
6 "The Italian Sweater,"short story, nd
7 "Johnny's Luck,"very early play, never produced
box folder
16 8-10 Massey Lectures, CBC Canada, 1985
box folder
17 1 "Opinions," Spring 1985
2 Tanner Lectures, Clare Hall, Cambridge, 1982-1983
3-5 London Observed (American title: The Real Thing), short stories, 1992
page proofs
6 "Among the Roses"
7 "Casualties"
8 "D.H.S.S."
box folder
18 1-2 "Debbie and Julie"
3 "Her"
4 "In Defense of the Underground"
5 "The Mother of the Child in Question"
6 "The New Café"
7 "The Pit"
8 "Pleasures of the Park"
9 "Principles"
10-11 "The Real Thing"
box folder
19 1 "Romance 1988"
2 "Sparrows"
3 "Storms"
4 "Two Old Women and a Young One"
5 "What Price the Truth?"
6 "Womb Ward"
7 Manuscript fragments
8 Related publisher's correspondence
Love, Again, novel, Harper Collins, 1996
box folder
20 1-7 Typescripts
box folder
21 1-2 Copy edited version for U.S. readers
3-4 Author's proof
5 Edited proof with editorial correspondence
box folder
22 1 Edited proof (cont'd)
2-3 Editor's proofs
4 Uncorrected proofs, 10 Aug. 1995
5 Foul matter for manuscripts and proofs
Mara and Dann, novel, 1999
box folder
23 1-6 Typescripts
box folder
24 1-6 Typeset versions
box folder
25 1-3 Author's corrections
4-6 Editor's corrections
7 Corrected pages
8 Publisher's correspondence
"Maria,"play, first draft, nd
box folder
25 9 Typescript
box folder
26 1-5 Typescripts, cont'd
Maupassant Television series, 1962-63
box folder
26 6-8 Scripts, adapted by DL, Hugh Leonard, and Stanley Miller
box folder
27 1-2 Scripts, cont'd
The Memoirs of a Survivor, novel, 1975
box folder
27 3 Uncorrected, bound typescript; photocopy
4 Setting copy
5 Screenplay
2 versions
box folder
28 1-2 "Mr. Dollinger,"play scripts, 1958?
3 "My Father,"article, 1963
4 "No Witchcraft for Sale,"short story, ca. 1951
5 "One Off the Short List,"short story, nd
6 Particularly Cats...and Rufus, page proofs, 1991
"Play with a Tiger," late 1950s?
box folder
28 7 Play scripts
8 Czech version
box folder
29 1-4 Adapted for television, 1967-68
5 Correspondence
6 "Playing the Game," treatment for a graphic novel, nd
7 Reviews by DL
8 "Rufus, the Survivor," short story, nd
"The Silent Man"
box folder
29 9 Play for television
10 Story outline for a film
box folder
30 1-2 Film outline, cont'd
3 Treatment for a film, 1963
4 "The Singing Door,"play, 1971
5 A Small Personal Voice: Essays and Reviews, setting copy, 1974
6 "The Stare,"short story, nd
"The Storm,"by Ostrovsky; a version by DL
box folder
30 7-8 Typescripts
9 Scripts for the National Theatre production
10 The Story of a Non-Marrying Man and Other Stories, page proofs, Jonathan Cape, 1972
box folder
31 1-6 The Summer before the Dark, novel, 1972
box folder
32 1 "A Sunrise on the Veld," short story, nd,
photocopy of printed version
2-3 The Temptation of Jack Orkney and Other Stories, setting copy, 1972
4 Edited pages and notes
5 "Lions, Leaves, Roses...."
6 "Mrs. Fortescue"
7 "Not a Very Nice Story"
8 "An Old Woman and Her Cat"
9 "The Other Garden"
10 "Out of the Fountain"
11 "A Report on the Threatened City"
12 "Side Benefits of an Honourable Profession"
13 "Spies I Have Known"
14 "The Story of a Non-Marrying Man"
15 "An Unposted Love Letter"
16 "The Thoughts of a Near-Human"
17 "Through the Tunnel" from The Habit of Loving, reprinted for Advanced English curriculum
"The Truth about Billy Newton," play, 1961
box folder
33 1-2 Typescripts
3 Scripts
4 Rehearsal scripts
5-7 "£20,000 of Love," play, nd
8 "Twenty Years," short story, nd
9 "Un Homme et Deux Femmes," script by René Féret, nd
box folder
34 1-2 Under My Skin, autobiography, 1994
Walking in the Shade, autobiography, 1997
box folder
34 3-6 Typescripts
box folder
35 1-7 Typescripts, cont'd
box folder
36 1 Typescripts, cont'd
2-5 Penultimate version
6 Copy edited version
box folder
37 1-2 Copy edited version, cont'd
3-5 Setting copy, HarperCollins
box folder
38 1-2 Page proofs, 3/17/97
3-4 Author's set
5 Edited proofs, 5/12/97
box folder
39 1 Edited proofs, cont'd
2 Notes and related material
3-4 "The White Princess," unproduced play, nd
Material on Afghanistan for The Wind Blows Away Our Words, nonfiction, 1987;
includes "Her Long Hair Streaming Loose" and New Yorker article, "The Catastrophe"
box folder
39 5-7 Typescripts and related material
box folder
40 1-9 Typescripts and related material, cont'd
box folder
41 1-4 "Woman Alone," unproduced film, 1965


Series II. Reviews and Tours

box folder
41 5-6 Reviews of DL's works
box folder
42 1-5 Reviews, cont'd
box folder
43 1-2 Reviews, cont'd
Tours, 1981-1990
box folder
43 3 1981
4-5 1981-82
Germany, Shakespeare Prize
box folder
44 1 Africa
2 Europe, mostly Scandinavia
3-4 Japan
5 1983
box folder
45 1-2 1984
United States and Canada
3-4 1985
5 1985
6 1989-90
United States, Argentina, Germany, and France