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William Goyen papers

Identifier: MS 0360
Finding aid note: Stored off-site at the Library Service Center. Please request this material via or call 713-348-2586.

Scope and Contents

The William Goyen papers are organized in five general categories: correspondence; manuscripts and notes; serial publications; reviews and publicity; and proofs and galleys. Boxes 1-4 contain correspondence, including correspondence from Goyen to William Hart (1937-1973); and correspondence from Goyen to his family (1940-1963), Boxes 2-4, and one folder of photographs, one folder of "family ephemera" such as newsclippings.

Boxes 5-10 contain notes, correspondence, and drafts for five of Goyen's major works, as follows: The House of Breath (Boxes 5-6); Ghost and Flesh (Box 7); In a Farther Country (Box 8); The Faces of Blood Kindred (Box 9); and The Fair Sister (Box 10). Serial Publications (1947-1978) are in Box 11; Reviews and Publicity are found in Box 12; and Box 13 includes Proofs and Galleys for The Collected Stories of William Goyen, Precious Door, Nine Poems, and A Book of Jesus.

Additionally, a steno notebook listing items at Goyen's home, and interior photo snapshots of Goyen's home, created in 1983, shortly after Goyen death, by colleague Reginald Gibbons, is available in the adminsitrativ control folder for the Goyen Papers.


  • 1937 - 1978
  • Majority of material found within

Access Restriction

This material is open for research.

Conditions Governing Access

Stored off-site at the Library Service Center. Please request this material via or call 713-348-2586.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish materials from William Goyen papers must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.

Biographical Note

Charles William Goyen, author, editor, and teacher, was born in Trinity, Texas, on April 24, 1915 and moved with his family to Houston at the age of eight. He received B.A. and M.A. degrees from Rice University (then Institute) in 1937 and 1939, respectively. After teaching for one year at the University of Houston, he left to serve in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Returning after five years, he left Houston to pursue his work as a writer, residing at various times in New Mexico, Europe, New York, and California. His East Texas origins, however, were to have an enduring influence on the speech patterns and cultural characteristics reflected in his writings.

His first novel, House of Breath, was published to critical acclaim in 1950. Subsequent publications included the novels In a Farther Country (1955), The Fair Sister (1963), and Come the Restorer (1974); Selected Writings (1974); short story collections Ghost and Flesh (1952), The Faces of Blood Kindred (1960) and The Collected Stories (1975); the non-fiction A Book of Jesus (1973); and plays The House of Breath (1956), The Diamond Rattler (1960), Christy (1964), House of Breath Black/White (1971), and Aimee (1973). He also created lyrics for the film Left-Handed Gun (1958) and served as translator for The Lazy Ones by Egyptian author Albert Cossery.

In addition to being a writer, he was instructor of English at the New School for Social Research in New York City, 1955-60; Associate in English at Columbia University, 1964-66; senior editor in the trade department at McGraw Hill, 1966-71; and visiting Professor of English at Brown University, 1973. He married the actress Doris Roberts in 1963.

Among awards he received were music awards for words and music from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (A.S.C.A.P.) in 1964, 1965, 1968, 1970, and 1971; an award from the Texas Institute of Arts and Letters, 1950; and the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Rice University in 1977. He was a Guggenheim fellow in 1950 and 1952 and a Ford Foundation grantee in 1963-64. He died in Los Angeles of leukemia in August 1983, two months before his novel Arcadio was published. Since then a number of his other late works have been edited and published.


6.25 Linear Feet (13 boxes)

Language of Materials



The William Goyen papers consist of correspondence, manuscripts and notes, serial publications, reviews and publicity, and proofs and galleys.

Acquisition Information

The William Goyen Papers were received between 1961 and 1980 as gifts from Charles and Mary Alice Hamilton (manuscripts, notes, and galley proofs of five of Goyen's works); William Goyen (a deposit of his own collection of personal letters, mostly to his parents); and William M. Hart (letters written to him by Goyen, 1937-1951). In addition, Patrice Repusseau contributed a copy of his Master of Arts dissertation, An Approach to William Goyen's The House of Breath (Institut d'Anglais Charles V, Universite Paris VII, Paris, 1971).

Related Material

Additional information about William Goyen is available in an Information File under his name in the Woodson Research Center in the Fondren Library of Rice University.

In addition, the Special Collections department at the University of Houston's Anderson Library, and the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin also have significant collections of Goyen material.
Guide to the William Goyen Papers, 1937-1978
Joan Ferry
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Woodson Research Center, Rice University, Houston, Texas Repository

Fondren Library MS-44, Rice University
6100 Main St.
Houston Texas 77005 USA