MS 69 - Jan Wahl Collection
|Title||MS 69 - Jan Wahl Collection|
The correspondence, literary manuscripts, original illustrations, galley proofs and other materials in the Jan Wahl Collection form a solid basis for beginning research into the life and career of one of the most widely-read contemporary authors of children's literature. Correspondence includes letters from friends, collaborators and publishers and deals for the most part with Wahl's work, although interesting personal asides can be found. Over eighty-five manuscript versions (both originals and copies) of approximately forty of the author's works form the core of the collection.
The core of the collection, spanning the years 1960 to 1980, was given to Bowling Green State University by Mr. Wahl in 1980 as a result of negotiations with Dr. Dwight Burlingame, Dean of Libraries and Learning Resources. On May 1, 1980 the Collection was formally dedicated and the Friends of the Libraries honored the author with festivities marking Jan Wahl Day. Signed copies of a number of his books are housed in the Rare Books Collection and most of his other titles can be found in Jerome Library. In recognition of his continuing work in children's literature and in the history of film, Bowling Green State University awarded Mr. Wahl the honorary degree Doctor of Letters on March 15, 1996. Additional material on this event was added at that time.
This collection is for research. However, unpublished correspondence may not be quoted without written permission of Mr. Wahl's estate. Manuscripts may be reproduced only with the permission of the Wahl estate. This register was compiled by Nancy Steen, Rare Books Librarian, in February 1985, and revised in September 1996 by Lee McLaird, Curator of Rare Books.
Jan Wahl was born in Columbus, Ohio on April 1, 1933 and grew up in Toledo. He was educated at Cornell University (B.A., 1953); the University of Copenhagen (Fulbright scholar, 1953-1954); and the University of Michigan (M.A., 1958). During his college years Wahl studied under such literary figures as Baxter Hathaway and Austin Warren and wrote a number of stories which were published in little magazines and anthologies.
While studying in Denmark, Wahl worked as secretary to author Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) during the writing of her Last Tales. The relationship proved to be an unhappy one and after being abruptly fired by the famous Danish author, Wahl returned to America. In 1955 he was awarded the Avery Hopwood Prize in Fiction for his collected short stories. The next major milestone in his career was the 1964 publication of Pleasant Fieldmouse, by Harper & Row, illustrated by Maurice Sendak.
Wahl went on to publish more than 100 books for children including Doctor Rabbit's Foundling, The Five in the Forest, Old Hippo's Easter Egg, Carrot Nose, Great-Grandmother Cat Tales, The Furious Flycycle, and Once When the World Was Green. He worked with many noted illustrators, among them Maurice Sendak, Garth Williams, and Erik Blegvad and Mercer Mayer. Among his many awards were the Bologna (Italy) Book Fair Young Critic's Prize (1969), the Ohioana Book Award (1970), the Parents Choice Award (1987), the Redbook Award (1987), the Christopher Medal (1987), and the Coretta Scott King recognition (1992).
Wahl also had a life-long interest in films and filmmaking. He began collecting films as a fourth grader, and his collection came to include everything from hand-colored films dating from 1893, to post-World War II black and white movies and Technicolor. In 1954 he was assistant to the world renowned film director Carl Theodore Dreyer during the making of "Ordet" in Denmark. In 1993 he began presenting his rare films and sharing their history in Germany as well as in the United States.
Wahl remained a prolific children's author throughout the first two decades of the twenty-first century. He shared his writings and experiences with teachers and children through classroom lectures, conferences, and writing workshops, and was interviewed by both CNN and German National Television. His books have been published in at least seven foreign languages. Wahl passed away in February 2019.
|Scope and Content|
The manuscripts of more than eighty-five drafts of approximately forty of Jan Wahl's books form the nucleus of the Wahl Collection. Related items include galley proofs, illustrations, publishers' mock-ups and research materials used by the author. All manuscripts are typed, some in the original and others copies, but many have holograph corrections and notes by both Mr. Wahl and his various editors.
Integrally connected with the manuscripts is a fascinating collection of correspondence from Wahl's editors, publishers and illustrators dealing almost exclusively with editorial questions. While potentially very useful to researchers studying the pre- publication process, the letters do not give the reader more than a fleeting glimpse of the author's personal relationships. Several of Wahl's speeches, news articles, photographs and memorabilia from Bowling Green State University's Jan Wahl Day in 1980 and the March 1996 awarding of his honorary degree complete the collection.
Researchers interested in children's literature and in book publishing in general should find considerable material of interest in this collection.
JAN WAHL DAY (BGSU) CORRESPONDENCE
BGSU HONORARY DEGREE CORRESPONDENCE
Books Published by Jan Wahl