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

February 11th, 2011
Wittliff acquires new Sam Shepard collection


The Wittliff Collections at Texas State University have acquired a significant new collection on Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and Academy Award-nominated actor Sam Shepard.

The material will be added to the Wittliff Collections’ already substantial archive of Shepard’s papers, which Shepard began donating to Texas State in 1992 through the efforts of his friend Bill Wittliff, the collections’ founding donor.

Sam Shepard, left, and Johnny Dark, 1981. From the Sam Shepard/Johnny Dark Correspondence Collection

The new Sam Shepard/Johnny Dark Correspondence Collection includes nearly 300 letters from the 1970s to the present, hundreds of photographs, taped conversations, and a homemade film, all of which document the decades-long friendship between Shepard and Dark, the stepfather of actress O-Lan Jones Dark, who was married to Shepard from 1969 to 1984.

The Shepard/Dark material complements the Wittliff Collections’ Sam Shepard Papers, which are comprised of 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, and his other acclaimed plays such as True West.

“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,” said Wittliff Collections Curator Steve Davis. “This new collection will be a boon for Shepard scholars and biographers for generations to come.”

Sam Shepard and Johnny Dark have been friends since the late 1960s. They began exchanging letters in 1972 and still remain close. The two men are working on a book of their selected correspondence, which will be published by the University of Texas Press as part of the Wittliff Collections’ Southwestern Writers Collection Book Series.

The Shepard/Dark Collection will be processed by Lead Archivist Katie Salzmann and made available to students and researchers. The materials previously donated by Sam Shepard to the Wittliff Collections have been archivally processed, and are currently available for research by appointment. A guide to the Sam Shepard Papers is online here.

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