Octavia Butler’s papers have arrived at the Huntington Library where they will join those of Robert Silverberg and any number of other well-known writers like Jack London, Christopher Isherwood and Charles Bukowski.
Butler, the most prominent African American woman in the field of science fiction, died in 2006. Butler lived for decades in the city where she was born, Pasadena, CA before moving to Washington state in 1999, and the city treasures her memory — Pasadena Public Library’s annual “One City – One Story” program selected her novel Kindred for 2006. It is fortunate for the community that Butler’s manuscripts, correspondence, notebooks, photos and other materials were acquired by a prestigious library so close by – in San Marino, the next town over.
The librarian responsible for Butler making the donation, Sue Hodson, the Huntington’s curator of literary manuscripts, is finding it a bittersweet experience:
“In a sense I wish I hadn’t had the opportunity” to go through the papers, Hodson said, referring to Butler’s untimely death in 2006. “I thought it would be someone who came after me. It’s a great joy, but I’m sorry, in a way, it’s me unpacking the boxes.”
Diana and I think the world of the Huntington. Diana spent a couple of summers using their facilities to work on her Inklings book.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]
This would be the same Octavia Butler who, when she was given a MacArthur “genius grant,” caused some people to say that the MacArthurs had lost their marbles, giving their award to a mere *ew* sci-fi writer. No doubt the same people will now be saying something similar about the Huntington.
Needless to say, the rest of us think and have thought that the choice of Butler, not well-known outside the field but most highly respected within it, showed great perspicacity on the part of both the MacArthurs and the Huntingtons.