Ransom Center acquires archive of writer Alan Furst
July 31, 2006
AUSTIN, Texas—The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin has acquired the archive of American writer Alan Furst.
Furst, who is known for capturing Europe in conflict between 1933 and 1941 in his fiction, writes novels that fit into a genre he defines as historical espionage. Critics call him an heir to the tradition of Eric Ambler and Graham Greene.
“In his novels, Alan Furst captures the tense and shadowy world of Europe on the eve of World War II and into the war itself,” said Ransom Center Director Thomas F. Staley. “His works have been both popularly and critically received, and they elevate this genre to a vital literary form.”
The collection includes drafts, research notes, unpublished chapters about the 1945 fall of Berlin, two screenplays, essays, poems, book reviews and stories. Literary and personal correspondence and career-related material are also included.
The collection contains material from all of Furst’s novels, including the acclaimed “Dark Star” (1991) and “The Polish Officer” (1995). Also present is material for “The Book of Spies” (2002), an anthology of literary espionage for the modern library edited by Furst.
All of Furst’s drafts are typed, rather than handwritten or computer-generated. Revised sections are often typed and taped on top of the original typescript, creating layered drafts.
Though known for his spy novels, Furst did not begin writing them until the mid-1980s. In 1983, Furst received an assignment from Esquire magazine to write a piece about the Danube River. Traveling through Eastern Europe, he witnessed the consequences of a totalitarian state. He determined from that moment, as he has told many interviewers, that he would become a spy novelist, situating his works in the locales he witnessed but setting them decades earlier.
His archive at the Ransom Center contains various materials from his trip down the Danube, including drafts of his article and photographic slides.
When he returned to the United States, Furst started writing novels such as “Dark Star” and “Night Soldiers” that have won him critical laurels and a mounting reputation. His most recent novel, “The Foreign Correspondent,” was released on June 3 and spent time on the New York Times bestseller list.
Furst’s materials are open for research. A list of materials available from the Furst collection can be found online.
For more information contact: Alicia Dietrich, Harry Ransom Center, 512-232-3667.