David Adams Richards fonds

The David Adams Richards fonds, 1968-1996, currently comprises 32 cases (2.7 m), primarily of textual material, photographs, and 59 floppy disks, which have been copied to a CD-ROM for more stable and permanent preservation.

David Adams Richards was born on October 17, 1950 in Newcastle, New Brunswick, the third of six children. Richards remembers that his inspiration for becoming a writer came at age 14 when he read Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist. Among the other literary influences for his writing are Faulkner, Buckler, Pushkin, Alden Nowlan, and Dostoevsky.

In 1969, following graduation from Harkins High School, Richards studied literature for three years at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick. During this time, an informal writers workshop which met Tuesday evenings in the McCord Hall Ice House (the Ice House Gang) provided Richards with a critical forum for his writing and encouragement from established writers such as Fred Cogswell, Kent Thompson, Alden Nowlan, Bill and Nancy Bauer, and Robert Gibbs.

Apart from a privately printed book of poetry and short stories entitled One Step Inside (1972), Richards' first publication was Small Heroics (1972), a book of poetry written during his first year at St. Thomas University, and published in a limited edition of only 250 copies in the New Brunswick Chapbooks Series. Late in 1971, Richards began to read chapters from what was to become his first novel, The Coming of Winter. The first five chapters won the $1,000 Norma Epstein Prize for Creative Writing in 1973, and Richards left St. Thomas University three credits short of his degree to become a full-time writer. Oberon Press (Ottawa) published The Coming of Winter in 1974. The book was translated into Russian in 1979 and became widely read in the Soviet Union. Richards' second novel, Blood Ties, was published by Oberon Press in 1976, followed by a collection of short stories, Dancers at Night : Stories in 1978. Richards' third novel, Lives of Short Duration, was published in 1981, and firmly established his reputation as a leading Canadian author.

From 1983-1987, Richards was writer-in-residence at the University of New Brunswick, following the death of his long-time friend, Alden Nowlan.

Road to the Stilt House, Richards' fourth novel, published in 1985, was short-listed for the Governor-General's Literary Award for English Fiction.

In 1986 Richards was named as one of the ten best Canadian writers under the age of 45 (45 Below) by the Canadian Book Information Centre and was awarded a silver medal by the Royal Society of the Arts for his overall contribution to literature in Eastern Canada. Maclean's named Richards to its 1988 honour role, which recognized him as a Canadian who made a difference. St. Thomas University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1990. In 1991, Richards won the Canadian Authors Association Literary Award for Fiction. In 1992, he was awarded the Canada-Australia Prize, which recognized his important contribution to the world of literature, followed by the Alden Nowlan Award for Excellence in English Literary Arts in 1993.

Nights Below Station Street, published by McClelland & Stewart in 1988, was the first work of a trilogy, and won the Governor-General's 1988 Literary Award for Fiction in the Spring of 1989. The other two works comprising the trilogy are Evening Snow Will Bring Such Peace(1990) and For Those Who Hunt the Wounded Down (1993). In 1994, Richards published a collection of essays entitled A Lad From Brantford, and Other Essays. His eighth novel, Hope in the Desperate Hour, was published in April, 1996.

In addition to his novels, poetry, and his collection of short stories, Richards' short stories and articles have been published in various literary magazines and anthologies. He also has written two unpublished plays, The Dungarvan Whooper and Water Carriers, Bones and Earls : the Life of François Villon.

Richards' screen-writing career was launched in 1987 with the première of the film Tuesday, Wednesday, produced by the New Brunswick film company Capitol Films. The screenplay for Small Gifts, a Christmas special first aired on the CBC in December, 1994, recently received international acclaim at the New York Film Festival. Screenplays currently are being developed for Nights Below Station Street and For Those Who Hunt the Wounded Down.

The literary papers comprising the David Adams Richards Fonds were acquired by the University of New Brunswick in the Fall of 1994, following preparation of a preliminary inventory by Lorna Knight, Chief of the National Library of Canada's Canadian Literature Research Service.

In addition to personal documentation and correspondence, the fonds contains typescript drafts for many of Richards' literary works, including novels, short stories, articles, plays, book reviews, and screenplays. The fonds also includes a small collection of photographs and 59 floppy disks, primarily containing drafts of his novels and screenplays, essays, and personal correspondence. Eight of the fifty-nine disks were corrupted and the information was irretrievable. Consequently, to enhance the preservation of the material contained on the floppy disks, the files have been copied on to a CD-ROM. Critical reception of Richards' work is documented by three theses and by newspaper clippings of interviews, book reviews, and articles about the author.

Further accruals are expected.


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