Series - Literary Drafts/Writings.

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Literary Drafts/Writings.

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    Date(s)

    • 1939 - 1994 (Creation)

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    Physical description

    3.8 metres of textual records.

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    Name of creator

    (1911 - 1998)

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    Scope and content

    The records in this series include Wilfred Watson's files of manuscript and typescript drafts of his writing, and are organized in the following sub-series: Poetry; Plays; Short Stories/Novel; Essays; Books; Miscellaneous Papers; and Publications. Many of the drafts are on loose sheets of paper or in examination booklets (those that were filed in the notebooks remain as part of Series 1). Notebooks devoted solely to poetry are included with this series. A lot of the drafts are also typescripts prepared for Watson from his manuscripts and used in preparing work for publication. Play-scripts are often production copies and many have manuscript revisions made by Watson during the rehearsals of the play, in which he always collaborated closely. There are typescripts for the performed plays; manuscript drafts of all the plays can be found in the notebooks (Series 1). There are also typescripts for several plays neither performed nor published. Some of the files contain only fragments of writing, notes written on cigarette packages, and notes on small pieces of cardboard, which are retained with miscellaneous papers (2.6).

    There are draft and final manuscripts and typescripts in the collection for nearly all of Watson's performed and/or published work as well as for many hundreds of unpublished poems, and for several plays and short stories. There are, for example, many typescript drafts of most of the poems in Friday's Child, and many of the poems in The sorrowful canadians and mass on cowback. There is also a complete typescript of a novel accepted by Faber and Faber in the late 1950s, but never revised for publication by Watson (Under the Rabbit's Paw; drafts of this novel are in the notebooks). Wilfred Watson published poetry and plays in literary journals throughout the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. These publications are in this series, and published reviews of Watson's work are also included here.

    Wilfred Watson and Marshall McLuhan collaborated on From Cliche to Archetype, a collaboration documented in this series (2.5). They wrote back and forth about the project from 1964 to 1969, sometimes letting it drop for awhile, sometimes writing every couple of days. There are 111 letters by Marshall McLuhan in this collection (letters not copied for the McLuhan archives at the National Library). There are copies of some 26 letters by Wilfred Watson to Marshall McLuhan; drafts of more of his letters can be found in the notebooks. There are also rough manuscript drafts numbering in the hundreds of pages of Watson's contributions to the book, as well as many notes of ideas, often diagrammed. There are up to three typescript versions of different portions of the book, with a complete typescript of the first draft which, the two agreed, would be Wilfred Watson's responsibility. The record provides considerable insight into, first, Watson's engagement with and contribution to McLuhan's work; second, the working out of the collaboration between them; and third, the development of an important work in the growing oeuvre of both Watson and McLuhan.

    The series title is based on the contents of records.

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