Library Receives Gift of the Papers of Eric McCormack

Thursday, June 1, 2000

Library Newsletter, Vol. 30, No. 1, June 2000

Library Receives Gift of the Papers of Eric McCormack

Eric McCormackEric McCormack in a 1998 photo taken in conjunction with his lecture "Six Impossible Things before Breakfast" at the annual Friends of the Library Lecture Series.

With the gift by author Eric McCormack of his papers and archives to the Doris Lewis Rare Book Room, the Library has been able to strengthen the primary research resources for students of literary studies. This new acquisition is a good match with the growing number of UW authors, artists, and scholars who have chosen to deposit their personal papers in the Library. Joining the archives of Virgil Burnett, Rienzi Crusz, Robert Dorney, John English, Nancy-Lou Patterson, Tony Urquhart, and Sally Weaver, the Eric McCormack Papers have recently been described as a resource which will "prove of great research value for this University's graduate and undergraduate programs."

McCormack's literary works produced over the last 25 years are well-documented in the 1.5 linear metres of archives recently opened to researchers. In commenting on the process of handing over these 25 years of creative output, McCormack said that he felt as though he was "erasing [his] past, an odd sensation." In fact, however, the acceptance by any research library of a living writer's archive represents a contemporary ratification of the writer's place in the literary canon. And such gifts will become ever more valuable to future scholars of Canadian literary history.

Eric McCormack was born in Scotland, later emigrated to Canada and, since 1970, has been teaching at St. Jerome's University at the University of Waterloo. He started out on his career writing short stories which appeared in small literary journals including Prism International, West Coast Review, Malahat Review, and The New Quarterly. He has also written poetry over the years. In February 1987 his first book Inspecting the Vaults was released. This is a collection of nineteen short stories, thirteen of which had been previously published in literary magazines. His first novel The Paradise Motel was published in February 1989. Eric McCormack became the focus of considerable media interest and his books were translated into many foreign languages. His next novel The Mysterium was released in 1989, and his most recent book First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women was published in 1997. Eric McCormack also frequently reviews for The Globe and Mail. His works to date have received much critical acclaim.

Manuscript page

A page from McCormack's manuscript The Mysterium showing extensive corrections and notes.

  Highlights of the archive include:
  • the manuscript of The Mysterium which contains extensive revisions and corrections by the author
  • informative runs of correspondence with publishers as well as with other authors including Susan Musgrave, Sandra Birdsell, and Claire Mowat
  • extensive reviews of all McCormack's works of fiction

In addition to being described as a "favourite with students, faculty, and staff" in his academic life at St. Jerome's University, Eric McCormack has won or been nominated for many prestigious literary awards.

  • 1988 - one of two recipients of the Commonwealth Writers Prize in the Canada Caribbean Region for his work Inspecting the Vaults
  • 1990 - awarded the Spring Book Award by the Scottish Arts Council for his novel The Paradise Motel
  • 1990 - one of the nominees for the People's Prize for Fiction
  • 1997 - short-listed for the Governor-General Award for his work of fiction First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women
  • 1999 - awarded the Literary Award at the Eleventh K-W Arts Awards Ceremony

The Eric P. McCormack fonds is now open to researchers.

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