Information about the The Brautigan Library, its background, collection, and inspiration.
Archive and curate manuscripts by writers keen to share their stories for general public reading.
In his 1971 novel, The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966, Richard Brautigan (1935-1984) described a library for manuscripts outside the interests of the commercial publishing industry, "the unwanted, the lyrical and haunted volumes of American writing." Authors were free to place their manuscripts wherever they liked on the library's shelves. Although no one could visit the library and read their manuscripts, the authors seemed happy that their visions and voices were collected and preserved.
Inspired by Brautigan's vision, Todd Lockwood, of Burlington, Vermont, started The Brautigan Library in 1990, encouraging submissions of unpublished manuscripts, and opening the doors to visitors interested to browse or read them. Unable to sustain operations on donations and volunteer librarians, the original Brautigan Library was closed in 2005 and its collection of manuscripts placed in storage. In 2010, the library and its contents were moved to Vancouver, Washington, where it has been curated by John Barber, faculty member of The Creative Media & Digital Culture program at Washington State University Vancouver.
Barber is also the developer and curator of The Brautigan Bibliography and Archive, an interactive, online resource generally acknowledged as the premier information source for the life and works of Richard Brautigan, and the author of Richard Brautigan: An Annotated Bibliography and Richard Brautigan: Essays on the Writings and Life.
The original Brautigan Library collection consists of three hundred nine uniquely titled manuscripts. Of these, twenty eight are in two or three volumes, bringing the total number of typed and bound manuscripts to three hundred thirty seven. Digital manuscripts have been added to the collection since its move to Vancouver, Washington. Frequently Asked Questions answered here.
Manuscript acquisition sequence records note the following.
316 manuscripts with unique MS# in original collection
2 manuscripts with MS #284; so, +1 to count
317 total manuscripts in original collection
10 manuscripts missing from collection
307 manuscripts sent to Vancouver, Washington, in 2010
4 digital manuscripts acquired in Vancouver, Washington (+ 1 manuscript that updates a previously submitted analogue manuscript)
Within the United States, 294 manuscripts were submitted from 39 states in the following numbers, most to least: California (49), Vermont (40), Pennsylvania (36), Massachusetts (34), New York (27), Connecticut (10), Florida (9), Washington (8), New Jersey (8), Missouri (6), New Mexico (6), Virginia (6), Arizona (5), Maryland (5), Kansas (4), Kentucky (4), Michigan (4), New Hampshire (4), Oregon (4), Ohio (3), Illinois (2), Georgia (2), Maine (2), Minnesota (2), Rhode Island (2), Alabama (1), Arkansas (1), Colorado (1), Delaware (1), Indiana (1), Montana (1), North Carolina (1), Nebraska (1), Oklahoma (1), Tennessee (1), Texas (1), and Wisconsin (1).
From outside the United States, 22 manuscripts were submitted from 4 countries in the following numbers, most to least: Canada (14), Saudi Arabia (4), United Kingdom (3), and India (1).
The majority of manuscripts in The Brautigan Library collection are typed or printed one side on 8.50" x 11" white paper, and bound in black, burgundy, gray, brown, or navy blue vinyl covers. The different colored bindings represent the relative number of pages for each manuscript, with black the least and navy blue the most. No titles or author names appear on the covers, only a collection category number. Several manuscripts are self-published, are generally 5" x 8," and provide a more conventional cover with title and author name.
The Manuscript catalog provides MS#, title, author name and location, date of submission, and summary information for each manuscript in the collection.
All manuscripts in The Brautigan Library are cataloged using the The Mayonnaise System.
Richard Gary Brautigan (1935-1984) was a 20th Century American writer whose novels, stories, and poetry are often cited as the best to depict the zeitgeist of the counterculture in San Francisco, California, during the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Brautigan, born in Tacoma, Washington, Brautigan spent his childhood in Washington and Oregon. He moved to San Francisco in 1956 where he rose to international prominence with the publication of his novel Trout Fishing in America (1967), his collection of poetry, The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster (1968) and his collection of stories, Revenge of the Lawn (1971).
Although Brautigan died in 1984, his legacy continues as writers, readers, artists, musicians, and others find inspiration and insight in his works while scholars and researchers find his work central to any study of The Sixties.
Learn more about the life and works of Richard Brautigan at The Brautigan Bibliography and Archive, the preeminent resource for information about the life and writings of Brautigan, developed and maintained by Barber.
The Brautigan Library website is curated by Brautigan scholar John F. Barber, who also curates Brautigan Bibliography and Archive, the renowned online resource about Richard Brautigan, his life and works. Barber convenes with the faculty of The Creative Media & Digital Culture program at Washington State University Vancouver, Vancouver, Washington, USA. His contact information follows.
John F. Barber
The Creative Media & Digital Culture Program
Washington State University Vancouver
Curator, Brautigan Bibliography and Archive
Curator, Radio Nouspace