EFR - The Eric Frank Russell Collection - 1937-2001
The archive contains typescripts, proofs and offprints of Eric Frank Russell's fiction and non-fiction. There is a large amount of papers relating to his literary career, including correspondence with agents, editors and publishers and a group of royalty statements and copyright agreements. The Arch...
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|Archive level description:||Sub-fonds|
|Physical Description:||21 boxes of archive material and the personal library of Eric Frank Russell comprising of 23 boxes of magazines and fanzines and ca. 324 books|
|Summary:||The archive contains typescripts, proofs and offprints of Eric Frank Russell's fiction and non-fiction. There is a large amount of papers relating to his literary career, including correspondence with agents, editors and publishers and a group of royalty statements and copyright agreements. The Archive also contains a large number of letters from family, friends, fans and fellow authors, as well as correspondence relating to Russell's role as British representative of the Fortean Society. Eric Frank Russell's personal library of books, magazines and fanzines and his Hugo Award are also contained in the archive.|
The collection is divided into six groups:
Eric Frank Russell (EFR) was born in June 1905 in Sandhurst, Surrey, where his father was an instructor at the military academy. The Russell family moved around a great deal and EFR grew up in Egypt, Sudan and different parts of England. At college, EFR concentrated on science and technology and was later employed at various stages as a telephone operator, quantity surveyor and a government draughtsman. He served in the King's Regiment from 1922 to 1926 and in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. EFR came to Liverpool in the 1930s to act as a representative and trouble-shooter for the engineering firm Frederick Braby & Co., where he continued to work whilst establishing his literary career.
Possessing a lifelong interest in science fiction, Eric Frank Russell published his first story, The Saga of Pelican West in Astounding in 1937, becoming the first British writer to regularly contribute to the magazine. He particularly admired Charles Fort (1874-1932), the American journalist, author and chronicler of scientific anomalies whose influence on Russell is reflected in the recurrent theme of humans as helpless victims of external forces in his fiction. For many years, Russell was the British representative of the Fortean Society and was later invited to produce a biography of Fort, which was written instead by Russell's friend, the American author and editor Damon Knight.
EFR was also a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America and a founding member of the British Interplanetary Society (BIS), collaborating with the BIS Secretary, Leslie J. Johnson, to write one of his earliest stories, Seeker of Tomorrow (1937), for Astounding. The BIS also brought Russell into contact with other science fiction writers, such as Olaf Stapledon and Arthur C. Clarke. It was Russell who introduced Stapledon to science fiction 'pulp' magazines in 1937 and provided Clarke with his first income from science fiction after selling a story based on some of Clarke's ideas.
EFR's first novel Sinister Barrier was published in 1943, followed by Metamorphosite (1946), Hobbyist (1947) and Dear Devil (1950). These novels were followed by a number of anti-war stories, including Late Night Final (1948), ...And Then There Were None (1951) and I am Nothing (1952). Yet, it is humour that is the most distinctive feature of Eric Frank Russell's writing and it was for the satirical short story Allamagoosa (1955) that he gained the distinction of being the first British writer to receive a Hugo Award. Eric Frank Russell's later fiction is regarded as less colourful but remains characteristically humanitarian. He also used the pseudonyms Webster Craig and Duncan H. Munro for several short stories.