The Author’s Process and Revision

While working through the archives related to The Almighty by Irving Wallace this week, I could not help but notice the number of revisions at each stage of the writing process. For anyone wanting to research a prolific author’s writing process, the Irving Wallace Papers offer a phenomenal opportunity. Wallace not only saved multiple drafts of each of his works, but he also tended to write notes on the top page reflected what changes he’d made.
On the original manuscript of The Almighty, before even sending to his agent, Wallace’s inscription indicated his multiple drafts. His note, dated March 25, 1982, stated, “This is the original draft written and typed by me from October 8, 1981 to January 28, 1982, and revised by me six times.” Six!
But those six revisions were just the beginning. Once the book was accepted for publication by Double Day, the manuscript went through at least another twelve to fifteen revisions between working with his editor, his agent, and the printers. At least point up until the very last moment before the printer was set to print the work, Wallace not only corrected errors, but also inserted whole changes to sentences, sections, and sometimes whole pages. Wallace’s notes throughout made mention of the number of revisions sent to editors, publishers, and printers as well as the extent of those revisions. One note I recall seeing mentioned that his editor, his publisher, a friend, his children, and his wife Sylvia had all provided feedback that he had incorporated into the draft—as well as some new material that was in his mind and he wanted to add to the manuscript.
I can only imagine how the publishers might have felt about these last minute changes. It might have been upsetting at first, but the man did publish more than 30 works and is considered a best-selling American novelist. At some point, I would guess, a publisher learns to let the artist be the artist and just works as quickly as they can. Certainly the archives indicate there was no shortage of adaptations to work with Wallace. For example,  one file includes multiple letters between Wallace and his editor and the publisher and Wallace all discussing the logistics of getting a set of galley proofs to him in Paris while he was traveling and setting up a telex call to send revisions via shorthand noted in the letters. He ultimately gave the revisions verbally over a phone call, but what a nightmare trying to coordinate all that for the publisher!
Stay tuned for more writing insights from The Irving Wallace Papers…

A Rose Among Flowers

John Laurence Seymour’s mother, Rose A. Seymour, loved flowers. Photographs spanning the decades of her life frequently feature her posing with flowers. Sometimes she is holding the flowers, sometimes she is standing next to them, and sometimes she is in the shrubbery with them. For Valentines Day, I thought it would be apropos to have Rose Seymour share some flowers with you.

The first photo is of Rose in either 1898 or 1899, on a porch in South Pasadena. The second photo is Rose posing at home in a large shrub of blooms in 1947. Finally, the last photo is from 1960, taken by John Seymour while the two were on vacation to the Colorado River Canyon.
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Hello from France (vicariously anyway)

is my second day digging into the Irving Wallace Papers and I was
delighted to find evidence of the writing process. Turns out, while
Wallace was on his way to Paris he stopped off at a little seaside town
in Biarritz to receive a letter from his Publishing house and likewise
dash one off to his editor in preparation for the final edits to The Almighty


write his editor, he used the stationary from Les prés d’Eugénie
“because it was the biggest I could find” and “because it’s chic.” I
have to agree. Très chic, Monsieur Wallace!


Fannie Charles Dillon

Fannie Charles Dillon
served as a mentor and a teacher to John Laurence Seymour. Both Californians and
musicians, the two shared a special bond. Seymour gave great credit to Dillon’s
composing and teaching. These accolades can be seen in a letter to the editor
Seymour sent to the Pacific Coast Musician
in 1947, just after Dillon’s death (letter below). Seymour kept numerous mementos
from Dillon, including a large collection of her sheet music, many of which she
signed and inscribed with notes to Seymour and his mother Rose (autographed
sheet music below). The black and white photograph below is of Seymour and
Dillon, taken only a few months before her death.  In the collection is also a film negative of
Dillon with Seymour’s Mother, Rose.

Dillon did not just
teach Seymour, she also taught at a number of institutions in Southern
California, including Pomona College. 
Dillon taught at Pomona College from 1910-1913, and she was also a
Pomona College Graduate. Today, her personal papers are kept in the UCLA
Special Collections under the title Fannie
Charles Dillon music manuscripts, 1881-1961
. That finding aid can be 
found in the Online Archive of California (OAC).

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“A Protegee of the Mistress”

From 1926-1940, John Laurence Seymour held an instructor position for the departments of both the Dramatic Arts and English at Sacramento Junior College. As part of his responsibilities for the Department of Dramatic Art, he was tasked with directing all of the school’s theatrical productions. Under Seymour’s careful direction, dozens of productions opened to praise from the local community. Seymour kept mementos of seemingly all of the productions he directed, meaning that the John Laurence Seymour Papers collection is full of programs and photographs from various Sacramento Junior College productions. Below are some mementos from “A Protegee of the Mistress”, performed on May 3, 1929. This production was the first performance of the play in America.

The photos below are scans of hand painted scenes used for the set design. Note that in the photo with the actors, you can see how the set created for scene 3 translated to real life! 
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Transitioning from NARA to Special Collections

While being a CLIR CCEPS Fellow did not make me a government employee…. My project of scanning documents at NARA means that I too suffer the consequences of the Government Shutdown. While it has been a difficult, and boring, month off from scanning, today starts my new CCEPS Fellowship with Honnold/Mudd Special Collections. My new assignment is to complete the processing of the John Laurence Seymour Papers. My colleague working on the project before me completed processing nearly all of Dr. Seymour’s correspondence, which leave me with all of his documents relating to research, family, teaching, travel, productions, music, and of course his impressive collection of meticulously kept diaries. I look forward to getting to know Dr. Seymour better over the course of the semester, as well as making the collection available to future researchers.