BWA - The Brian W Aldiss Archive - 1943-[c.2014]

Most of the material has been produced by Aldiss; there is a small collection of typescripts authored by other writers and critics.

The collection comprises five sections, which are as follows: fiction, including poetry, novels and short stories; nonfiction books, articles reviews and mate...

Full description

Main Creator: Aldiss, Brian
Archive level description: Sub-fonds
Physical Description:24 boxes (and oversized items)

Most of the material has been produced by Aldiss; there is a small collection of typescripts authored by other writers and critics.

The collection comprises five sections, which are as follows: fiction, including poetry, novels and short stories; nonfiction books, articles reviews and material for SF conventions and organisations; collections of press cuttings; correspondence, primarily copies of letters sent to various recipients by Aldiss; and miscellaneous material, including material not authored by Aldiss in addition to audio-visual items, artwork and other similar materials.

Reference Number:BWA
Accruals:There are no anticipated additions.
Access Conditions:Access is open to bona fide researchers

Material is arranged chronologically as far as possible. Undated material follows dated material in sequence, and is arranged alphabetically. The material has been divided and listed according to its genre; falling into five areas which are

BWA/1 Fiction
BWA/2 Non-Fiction
BWA/3 Letters and Correspondence
BWA/4 Press Cuttings
BWA/5 Miscellaneous

Custodial History:Previously in the custody of Brian Aldiss
Related Material:Other manuscript collections can be found at the following institutions: Bodleian Library, Oxford University; Dallas Public Library; University of Kansas, Lawrence; Sydney University; Eastern New Mexico University, Portales; University of California Los Angeles (correspondence); Henry E Huntington Library, San Marino, California (correspondence).
Access Restrictions:Reproduction and licensing rules available on request
Bibliography:[Book] Aldiss, Margaret. 1992. The Work of Brian W Aldiss: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide.
[Book] Clute, John & Nicholls, Peter. 1993. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.
[Book] Collings, Michael R. 1986. Brian W Aldiss: Starmont Reader's Guide no.28,.
[Book] Watson, Noelle & Scellinger, Paul E. 1991. Twentieth Century Science-Fiction Writers.
Biographical/Administrative Information:

Brian Wilson Aldiss was born on August 18 1925, in East Dereham, Norfolk, England to Stanley Aldiss and Elizabeth May Wilson. Aldiss attended Framlington College, Suffolk between 1936-9, and then, after the family moved to Devon, West Buckland School, until he was drafted into the Army in 1943. He served in the Royal Corps of Signals in India, Assam, Burma, Sumatra, Singapore and Hong Kong. Demobilized in 1948, he found employment at Sanders and Co., which began his nine-year book-selling career. He married Olive Fortescue in the same year, with whom he had his eldest children, Clive Fortescue (b. 1955) and Caroline Wendy (b.1959). He married Margaret Christie Manson in 1965 following his divorce from Olive, with whom he had two children, Timothy Nicholas (b.1967) and Charlotte May (b.1969).

Aldiss' publishing career began in 1954 with his first professional sale, " A Book in Time," which appeared in The Bookseller. He also published his first Science Fiction story the same year: " Criminal Record" appeared in the July edition of Science Fantasy. After the publication of his first book, The Brightford Diaries, Aldiss left the book-selling trade to become a full-time writer. He received an award for most promising new writer at the World Science Fiction Convention in 1959, and has fulfilled his potential with a prolific but critically acclaimed number of science fiction novels, novellas, short stories and critical works. In addition to science fiction, Aldiss has written short stories, plays and screen plays, poetry and several autobiographical works.

Aldiss' first SF novel, Non-Stop, (1958) is considered to be a classic, with its theme of conceptual breakthrough and treatment of the generation starship. Hothouse or The Long Afternoon of Earth won a Hugo Award in 1962 and although criticised by James Blish and others for its scientific impossibilities, it is an excellent example of Aldiss' work, demonstrating his linguistic, comic and inventive talents and embraces his main thematic concerns - the conflict between fecundity and entropy. His novella, The Saliva Tree won a Nebula Award in 1965. In 1983, Aldiss won the John W Campbell Award for Helliconia Spring, and Life in the West was nominated by Anthony Burgess as one of the ninety-nine best novels published in the English Language since 1939. He has also received awards for his science fiction criticism, winning a James Blish Award in 1977 and a Pilgrim Award a year later.

Aldiss was associated with New-Wave SF in the mid to late 1960's; he helped obtain an Arts Council grant for the magazine New Worlds. The 1970's saw the production of some of Aldiss' best-known work, including Frankenstein Unbound, and Billion Year Spree, a history of Science Fiction. This volume was revised and expanded with the help of David Wingrove in the mid-1980's, and retitled Trillion Year Spree, in which guise it won a Hugo. The individual volumes which make up the Horatio Stubbs Saga were written in the 1970's. The first of these, The Hand-Reared Boy was Aldiss' first best-seller, and recalled to some extent many of the author's own experiences. This, and other non-SF works, such as Forgotten Life, Remembrance Day and Life in the West are semi-autobiographical. Possibly the most famous of Aldiss' novels, The Helliconia Trilogy appeared between 1982 and 1985.

In addition to his novels, Aldiss has written hundreds of short stories, edited numerous SF anthologies, provided introductions and after words to many volumes and can also be credited as an important literary critic. In addition to this he wrote and starred in Science Fiction Blues, a touring production also featuring Frank Hathaway and Petronilla Whitfield. It was with Hathaway that he founded the Avernus Press in 1987. Aldiss' involvement with various SF organisations is considerable. He helped C. S. Lewis with the foundation of the Oxford University Speculative Fiction Group in 1960. Aldiss made his first visit to the annual International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts Conference in Boca Ranton, Florida, in 1981. In the same year Aldiss was appointed as one of the judges of the Booker Prize and was the first to write publicly about the panel and decision making process. He was a founding Trustee of World SF and its President from 1983. Similarly, he chaired the World SF Meeting in Zagreb, Yugoslavia in 1983 and was Guest of Honour at many literary events and conventions including the Helsinki SF Convention and 45th World Science Fiction Convention in Brighton, England. However, the literary pursuits of Brian Aldiss have not been confined to Science Fiction alone. He became involved with the Society of Authors in 1975 and was Chairman of its Committee of Management between 1977 - 78, in which period the Society gained Union status. Aldiss was also appointed to the Arts Council Literature Panel between 1978-80. Brian Aldiss had done much to bring Science Fiction closer to the mainstream and earn its place as a respected literary genre. Aldiss' place in the British Literary establishment is testament to this. To quote Aldiss:"One really writes because one has to. I never think of the reader until the act of creation is over. Then I hope I might nourish the creative spark in others" (Watson and Schellinger, 1991, p5).