Ransom Center acquires Rachel Cusk’s papers

Notebooks and the novelist's MacBook Pro laptop are included in the acquisition, but no manuscript drafts

Author Rachel Cusk. Photo by Siemon Scamell-Katz.

The papers of acclaimed author Rachel Cusk have been acquired by the University of Texas’ Harry Ransom Center.

The Canadian-born Cusk (b. 1967) is the author of 10 novels including the “Outline Trilogy,” which includes “Outline” (2014), “Transit” (2016) and “Kudos” (2018). Her debut novel was “Saving Agnes” (1993), and other works include “The Temporary” (1995), “The Country Life” (1997), “The Lucky Ones” (2003), “In the Fold” (2005), “Arlington Park” (2006) and “The Bradshaw Variations” (2009). 

Rachel Cusk reads from her novel “Kudos” at 6:30 p.m. April 11 at the Ransom Center. The event is free

Acquired materials from Cusk include 16 notebooks as well as papers and others documents dating from the 1980s to the present. Cusk’s notebooks contain teaching notes, occasional journal entries, drawings by her children, appointment details and records of everyday life.

However, no draft manuscripts — typically the bulk of most author archives — are included in the acquisition. Manuscript drafts are typically the bulk of most author’s archives. A series of drafts and notes relating to Cusk’s version of Euripedes’ play “Medea,” which premiered at London’s Almeida Theatre in 2015, are also included in the collection as is her MacBook Pro laptop.

“I would hold on to draft manuscripts for a while, but if they didn’t get used to light the fire or for the children to draw on, they were abandoned in the next house move,” Cusk writes in “The Weather of Domestic Life,” an essay on the Ransom Center’s site published on the occasion of the acquisition. “I did, however, keep hold of my notebooks, in which the ‘photographs’ of my conceptions were taken.”


She composed two of the early notebooks when she was a student traveling in Turkey and Italy. The entries reveal Cusk’s early efforts at developing her style and are accompanied by sketches of places she visited.

“I immediately make a set of notes that are like a photograph of it: they record, in one frame as it were, what it looked like to me,” she writes. “What I write nearly always conforms to the note-photograph I made at the beginning.”

“Rachel Cusk is one of the most exciting novelists writing today,” said Stephen Enniss, director of the Ransom Center. “Her novels explore the way identity is shaped by language and reveal as well the way the novel may serve as a site of struggle over the self,” he noted. “In placing her papers at the Ransom Center, Cusk has given us an intimate record of that struggle with life and with art.”

Cusk was named one of Granta magazine’s Best of Young Novelists in 2003 and has received numerous literary awards, including the Whitbread First Novel award in 1993 for “Saving Agnes.”

 

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