San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

February 11th, 2011
Wittliff Collections acquire major Sam Shepard collection


Actor and Playwright Sam Shepard has been donating his papers to Texas State since 1992. A new collection of correspondence was recently acquired.


The Wittliff Collections at Texas State recently acquired a collection of correspondence belonging to Pulitzer Prize winning playwright and Academy Award nominated actor Sam Shepard.

The Sam Shepard/Johnny Dark Correspondence Collection includes close to 300 letters from the 1970s to the present, hundreds of photographs, taped conversations and a homemade film, all documenting the decades long friendship between Shepard and Dark. Johnny Dark is the stepfather of actress O-Lan Dark, to whom Shepard was married from 1969-1894.

“Sam Shepard is one of America’s most celebrated playwrights, and this very personal material illuminates his work process as he created some of his most memorable plays,” Wittliff Collections Curator Steve Davis said. “This new collection will be a boon for Shepard scholars and biographers for generations to come.”

Shepard began donating his papers to Texas State in 1992 through the efforts of the collections founder, Bill Wittliff. The Sam Shepard Papers already contained in the Wittliff collection include  26 boxes of journals, manuscripts, correspondence, clippings, publicity, and awards relating to many of Shepard’s plays, books, and films, including his Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Buried Child, other plays, most notably True West.

Shepard and Dark, friends since the 1960s, have corresponded by letter since 1972 and are working on a book of their selected correspondence to be published by the University of Texas Press as part of the Wittliff Collections’ Southwestern Writers Collection Book Series.

Lead Archivist Katie Salzmann will process the new material and it will be made available to students and researchers. The materials previously donated by Sam Shepard to the collections have been archivally processed, and are currently available for research by appointment. A guide to the Sam Shepard Papers is at

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