Duncan, Thomas W. (1905-1987)
NOTE: All or part of this collection is stored off-site. Several days' advance notice is required for retrieval.
The Thomas W. Duncan collection includes manuscripts, correspondence, personal memorabilia, printed materials, financial materials, audio materials, photographs, notebooks, and other materials.
The collection includes manuscripts for Duncan's novels, short stories, speeches, articles, and poems. Collected novels include The Labyrinth, The Dusty People, Corn Horse, Ring Horse, Prominent Among the Mourners, Ten Thousand Men of Harvard, Golden Goose Chase, Young Godhead, Circus Farm, The Duke of Dubuque, Silvercrest, Virgo Descending, Circus Coming, Big River, Big Man, and Many Horses West. Galleys are also included for Gus the Great, We Pluck This Flower, MacKinlay Kantor's Long Remember, and Narrow Garge to Murder, a novel written by Duncan's wife, Actea.
Duncan's prolific short story production is documented extensively, with well over two hundred stories in the collection.
Collected articles include "Life with a Corona," "Circus Slanguage," "Three Ring State," "Ben Pollack," "The Modern Novelist's Responsibilities," "Evolution of a Bibliophile," "Books for Christmas Stockings," "You and the Press," "Biographical Sketch of Thomas W. Duncan," and "Robbins Brothers' Circus."
The collection includes over five hundred pages of poetry, as well as a numbered copy of Hours from a Life and Other Poems, signed and inscribed by Duncan.
Additional items are constituted by miscellaneous annotated manuscripts, as well as holograph and typescript notes on people, places, events, and outline ideas that Duncan kept to encourage plot and character development.
Correspondence in the collection is well-documented between 1920 and 1968. Duncan wrote professionally to his agent, Willis Kingsley Wing, and conducted correspondence with publishers such as Lawrence Spivak and J.B Lippincott. Personal correspondence consists of letters to and from Duncan's mother and contemporary writers. Notables include Clifton Fadiman, John Hersey, Mackinlay Kantor, H.L. Mencken, Sterling North, Rex Stout, and Adlai Stevenson.
The collection’s personal memorabilia includes certificates and diplomas from Drake University and Harvard University for both bachelor and master degrees. Also included are medical diplomas and assorted juvenilia.
Printed material consists of magazines, news clippings, pamphlets, and general publicity material. Notable publications include Writer’s Digest, Better Homes and Gardens, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, The Saturday Review, Poetry, and Argosy. Advertisements for Gus the Great and Ring Horse and numerous reviews and notices for Duncan’s novels constitute additional material.
The collection includes Duncan's lifelong financial materials. Collected expense books, checks, bills, and income tax records amount to well over 4,000 pieces.
Audio materials in the collection consist of 67 reels. Recorded items include a John O. Moreland interview of Claus Brathen, tapes from the 1956 Democratic Convention, and "Down Yonder in New Orleans and many other golden oldies."
The collection includes photographs of Duncan and his dog, family photos, travel photos, and landscape slides. Also included are numerous publicity photos, as well as a 1924 photo of Duncan with his Chautauqua group.
Collected notebooks include Duncan's class records, Harvard papers, and numerous "idea books" in which Duncan kept notes for novels and short stories. Scrapbooks containing newspaper and magazine clippings and materials on magic and magicians are present as well.
Additional materials include a Masonic award, handwriting samples, a self-portrait of cartoonist Rex Maxon, a coat of arms, and two dust jackets for Actea Duncan's The Cactus Shroud.