Marilyn Harris Springer, acclaimed novelist, was among the most critically and commercially successful authors from Oklahoma. More commonly known by her pen name, Marilyn Harris, she was born in Oklahoma City in 1931. A multi-talented individual, Harris was a classically trained pianist, and in high school won many awards as a contestant in speech and drama competitions. Harris received a B.A. in Drama from the University of Oklahoma in 1953, and also received a M.A. in Drama from the University of Oklahoma in 1954.
Near the middle of her life, Harris began writing original works of poetry and fiction. Discovered by a literary agent while attending the University of Oklahoma’s annual writer’s conference, Harris’ work reached the public eye with a collection of short stories published in periodicals in Europe and in the United States. In 1969, the short stories were published in an anthology entitled King’s Ex. During her career, Harris published twenty books, four of which became national best sellers. In 1977, one of her bestselling novels, Hatter Fox, was adapted into a CBS Movie of the Week entitled A Girl Called Hatter Fox. Harris is most widely recognized for her popular Eden saga, a 2 seven volume historical fiction series that chronicles the history of the Eden family in England from the late 18th century until the onset of World War I. She retired from writing in 1994.
Harris worked with several different publishing companies during her career, including DoubleDay & Co., Random House, Putnam & Sons, and Crown. Combined, these companies printed nine million copies of her books, publishing her works in France, Germany, Poland, Japan, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, England, and Italy. Drawing critical acclaim for her books throughout her career, Harris won several literary awards including the Lewis Carroll Bookshelf Award, the O. Henry Award, and the University of Oklahoma Literary Award. In addition, Hatter Fox garnered a Literary Guild Book Club selection. Harris solidified her place among Oklahoma’s foremost authors with her induction into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1987, as well as her 1991 induction into the Oklahoma Professional Writers Hall of Fame.
In addition to her career as an author, Harris served for seven years during the 1970s as Artist-in-Residence in the English Department at the University of Central Oklahoma (then Central State University). She taught a course entitled “The Writing of the Novel,” which required her students to write a new novel before completing the class. Several of her students, like their mentor, went on to become published authors. Harris passed away in 2002 at the age of 70. In recognition of her contributions to the University of Central Oklahoma, Harris was selected as an inaugural member of the UCO Luminary Society in 2015.
"What is gained from reading other writers comes indirectly, especially those of the past whose work has added to the body of the world’s enduring culture. Nobody today seriously wants to write a Dickensian novel, or one like those of Balzac, or the Russians, or the Edwardians; but in reading them and countless others, the writer enters into a climate where he feels accounted for; a stream of imagined life in which his own efforts of inventing a reality can seem to be worthwhile; and a realm of expression where his own ventures into language whose style he partly inherits and partly refreshes seem to him justifiable for their own sakes. He recognizes that literacy does not descend upon him spontaneously. It must be earned. We read not to imitate, but to gain stimulus for our own work. We read to examine and understand the complex and basically unteachable flow of language; how a sentence is put together to achieve a certain effect, how to select words of movement, words of motion and emotion. Reading as experience joins the outward events in a writer’s life in a natural union which can be only productive. Those outward events which seem to come indirectly may be the most nourishing of all."
- Marilyn Harris
These are the personal papers of Marilyn Harris. The collection features correspondence, newspaper clippings and articles, Harris’ notes and lectures from her novel writing course, and notes and manuscripts for speeches Harris delivered to various groups. In addition, the collection includes manuscripts, both handwritten and typed, for both her published and unpublished works. There are published copies of Harris books, as well as copies of the galley proofs for many titles. The rest of the collection is comprised of Harris’ personal memorabilia and keepsakes, several hundred photographs, research for her books, souvenir booklets and brochures collected from various vacation locales, and other miscellaneous materials.
The materials were given to the UCO Archives & Special Collections in 6 donations from 2009-2015 by John Springer.
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