The John McGahern Papers
IDENTITY STATEMENT
Reference code: P71
Title: The John McGahern Papers
Date(s): c. 1958-2006
Extent: 32 Boxes
Location: James Hardiman Library, NUIG
CONTEXT
Biographical History

John McGahern was born in Dublin in 1934. For the first nine years of his life he lived in County Leitrim with his mother a national school teacher, while his father, a sergeant in the GardaĆ­ Siochana stationed in County Roscommon, lived apart from the rest of the family. After his mother died in 1944 McGahern, who was the eldest, moved with his five sisters and one brother to live with his father in Cootehall, County Roscommon. The family lived in the Garda Barracks in the village. After attending a number of different national schools in Leitrim and Roscommon McGahern attended The Presentation College in Carrick-on-Shannon having won a half-scholarship in 1948. He then trained as a national school teacher at St.Patrick's college Drumcondra from 1952 to 1954. After taking up a teaching post at St. John the Baptist Boys National school in Clontarf in 1955 he began studying for a B.A. degree at University College Dublin at night. He graduated from U.C.D. in 1957. While working as a teacher in Clontarf he completed a novel 'The End or the Beginning of Love' which was accepted for publication by Faber and Faber, McGahern decided to withdraw the novel from publication believing that it wasn't good enough. In 1962, McGahern was awarded the prestigious AE Memorial Award from the Arts Council for an extract from the novel The Barracks , which would be published the following year by Faber and Faber. McGahern was also awarded The Macauley Fellowship after the publication of the book; this allowed him to take a year off teaching and to travel around Europe. His next novel The Dark published in 1965 was banned in Ireland by the Censorship Board. This led to his dismissal from his teaching post in Clontarf. McGahern then left Ireland and spent a number of years England, France and the United States. He was employed in various capacities including a spell as Research Fellow as the University of Reading in 1968 and as visiting Professor at Colgate University, New York in 1969. His first collection of short stories Nightlines was published in 1970, some of the stories had previously been published in periodicals including The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly and The Listener . After the publication of his next novel The Leavetaking in 1974, John McGahern returned to Ireland with his second wife Madeline Green and purchased a farm in County Leitrim. Over the following years McGahern divided his time between the farm in Leitrim and temporary posts in academia including further spells and in Colgate and as writer in residence in University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin. McGahern continued to write short stories and novels. A short story collection Getting Through was published in 1978, a novel The Pornographer was published in 1979, and a further collection of short stories High Ground was published in 1985. His next novel Amongst Women which was published in 1990 was short listed for the Booker Prize. The Collected Stories was published in 1992. That They May Face The Rising Sun , his last novel, was published in 2002. A number of John McGahern's works have been adapted to the stage or screen both by himself and by other writers. An original piece for Television The Rockingham Shoot was broadcast in 1987, and an adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's melodrama The Power of Darkness was staged by The Abbey Theatre in 1991 . John McGahern has also regularly contributed non-fiction pieces to newspapers and periodicals. He has written introductions and forewords to publications by other authors. He published his memoir simply entitled Memoir to great acclaim in 2005. John McGahern died of cancer in March 2006, his death was marked by tributes from public figures in Ireland and abroad. John McGahern's work has been translated into several languages and he has received many awards and honours, including the Society of Authors Award, the American-Irish Award, the prix Etrangere Ecuireuil and the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, The GPA Award and The Irish Times Award. He has received Honorary Doctorates from Trinity College Dublin and University College Galway.

Immediate Source of Acquisition or Transfer

The collection was deposited by John McGahern at an official ceremony on October 6th 2003, addition material was deposited with the University by Madeline McGahern in September 2006. A small amount of additional material was deposited by Madeline McGahern in June 2007.

CONTENT AND STRUCTURE
Scope and Content

This collection consists primarily of drafts of John McGahern published works, it also includes a small amount of correspondence and other material which relate to publication and John McGahern's writing career in general. The collection includes drafts of all six of John McGahern's published novels as well as drafts of his unpublished novel 'The End or the Beginning of Love'. It also includes drafts of all 37 of his published short stories, and 10 different dramatic pieces, some of which are adaptations of his own work, others of which were never produced. The collection also includes drafts of most but not all of John McGahern's published non-fiction and several drafts of his autobiographical work Memoir . For the purposes of description drafts are characterized as being either handwritten, typescript or faircopy. 'Faircopy' describes any draft that is almost identical to a published piece and contains few if any handwritten amendments. The vast majority of typescript drafts contain handwritten amendments or additions. In many instances drafts are considered partial in that only part of a longer draft has survived or the original draft was of only part of the complete work. Where drafts consisted of a small number of pages, typically ten or less for novels or three or less for short stories they are described as fragments and grouped together with other fragments of the same format and work for the purposes of description e.g. 'Handwritten fragments of Amongst Women '. It is clear from the presence of fragments and from the pagination on drafts that not all drafts of every work survive. Indeed this is true for the vast majority of works. The number of drafts of each work in the collection varies considerably, for example while only two drafts and a number of fragments of the short story 'The Recruiting Officer' are included in the collection, in contrast 15 drafts and a number of fragments of the short story 'Parachutes' are included in the collection. This may of course be a reflection of the different writing processes involved in writing the two stories. The papers are in very good physical condition.

System of arrangement

For the purposes of arrangement the collection has be divided into 7 main series: 'Novels' , 'Short Fiction', 'Drama' , 'Non-Fiction' , 'Non-Literary Material', 'Translations' and 'Original works not written by John McGahern'. The latter two of these groups included very few items, however it wasn't possible to logically include them in any of the other series. The four series which constitute the bulk of the collection: 'Novels' , 'Short Fiction' , 'Drama' and 'Non-Fiction' consist primarily of drafts of works which were published (or staged/broadcast). These series also include a small amount of related material such as lists of queries from publishers relating to the text. Within these series material is arranged by work, i.e. all the drafts for each individual novel, short story, dramatic piece or work of non-fiction are arranged together. For each work the drafts are arranged roughly in the chronological order they were written. However because very few drafts were dated it hasn't been possible to arrange drafts in a definitive chorological order. Drafts have been arranged by analyzing changes in the text. In many instances however partial drafts were of different sections of a work with no overlap so it was impossible to find any 'changes' between them. In these instances drafts of earlier sections of a book have been arranged before later sections, e.g. a draft of chapter one would appear in the list before a draft of chapter two. This collection includes drafts of a small number of short stories which have never been published. These stories have however been incorporated or adapted into published novels. For the purposes of arrangement they have been placed with early drafts of the novels which they were incorporated into rather than with 'Short Fiction'. Similarly a prose version of McGahern's original television drama The Rockingham Shoot has been arranged with drafts of the dramatic version of the piece. In many instances drafts of two or move works are contained in the same physical document, for example a copy book or in some instance two sides of a loose sheet. For the purposes of arrangement such items have been place with other drafts of one of those works and cross referenced in the descriptive list with the others. In some instances it may have been physically possible to separate different works by removing staples. In order to preserve the evidential value of the fact that two or more works may have been in progress at the same time documents of this type have been left in tact. For example early drafts of 'The White Boat' published in 1997 appear in the same copybook as drafts of The Rockingham Shoot broadcast in 1987. Addition material was deposited Madeline McGahern in June 2007. Where possible this material was integrated with existing material, for example the opening page of a typescript draft of The Leavetaking was placed with the rest of that draft.(P71/102). In many cases it was not possible to integrate the newly deposited material with material that was already listed. An additional series 'Accessioned in June 2007' was created with sub-series reflecting the existing arrangement of the collection.

CONDITIONS OF ACCESS AND USE AREA
Conditions governing access

This collection is available to all bona fide researchers, and subject to the conditions of access governing consultation of archival material at the James Hardiman Library. For a full statement of these conditions see:

http://www.library.nuigalway.ie/archives/conditionsofaccess/

A small number of items have restrictions placed on access to them. Access to these items which are of a personal nature is available only to bona fide researchers with permission from John McGahern's estate. Any application for access must be made through the Archivist.

All reproductions of material from this collection are subject to the conditions of access. Any requests for publication of extracts of more than 200 words must be agreed in writing by the McGahern Estate. The most appropriate form of reference is Title of item; date of item: Reference Number (P71/??), James Hardiman Library Archives, NUI Galway.

For further information please contact specialcollections@nuigalway.ie.

Finding aids
Descriptive List
Return to List of Deposited Collections