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Donley Watt


A Guide to the Donley Watt Papers
1970 – 2004
Collection 104          

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Descriptive Summary

Creator:                     Watt, Donley

Title:                          The Donley Watt Papers

Dates:                         1970-2004

Abstract:                    Correspondence, drafts, notes, research, and reviews from novelist Donley Watt.  The arrangement of the materials occurs in the following five series: Personal Papers, 1970-2004; Novels 1994-2004; Short Fiction; Other Writings; Media.

Identification:           Collection 104

Extent:                       18 boxes (7.5 linear feet)

Language:                  English

Repository:               Southwestern Writers Collection, The Wittliff Collections, Texas State University-San Marcos

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions: Open for Research.

Preferred Citation: The Donley Watt Papers, Southwestern Writers Collection, Texas State University-San Marcos

Acquisition Information: Donated by Donley Watt in 2004 and 2006.

Processing Information: Processed by Michael (Mac) McFadden, Chad McFadon, Adrienne Richey, and Martha George Withers, 2011

Biographical Sketch

            Writer Donley Watt was born in 1940.  He arrived in Athens in East Texas at the age of five.  After graduating Athens High School, Watt attended Henderson County Junior College for one year then moved on to the University of Texas, where he received his Masters in History.  In 1973, Watt helped found Austin Community College and was its dean for a few years.  In his life, Watt has also been a land man in the oil business, owned an herb farm, and owned a contemporary art gallery.  In 1987, Watt decided to go back to school to achieve his childhood dream and become a writer.  In the early 1990’s, Donley Watt lived, traveled, and researched in Mexico and Guatemala.  For six years, Watt was the writer in residence at the Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.  He has also taught at Northern Arizona University and at the University of Arizona. Donley Watt is the former vice-president of The Texas Institute of Writers. Currently he is the fiction writing editor and a consultant for Gemini Ink in San Antonio.  

Can You Get There From Here?, a collection of short stories, was published in September 1994, which won the Texas Institute of Letters’ Stephen F. Turner Award for best first work of fiction.  An additional publishing occurred in 1994 with The Journey of Hector Rabinal.  The novel was a finalist for a Western Writers of America Spur Award and translated in Spanish in 1995 by a publisher in Mexico City.  Haley, Texas 1959, and 2 novellas followed in 1999.  Watt then published Reynolds in 2002 and Dancing with Lyndon in 2004.  He has also published numerous essays and reviews.

Scope and Content Note

The Donley Watt Papers span the years from 1970 to 2004.  The collection includes correspondence, photographs, clippings, notes, drafts, and computer discs.  The bulk of the papers is focused on the writings of his published works from 1994 to 2004: Can You Get There From Here; The Journal of Hector Rabinal; Haley, Texas 1959; Reynolds; and Dancing with Lyndon.  Other materials in the collection concern Watt’s short story ideas, essays, and reviews. 

There are five series in the collection: Personal Papers, 1970-2004; Novels, 1994-2004; Short Fiction; Other Writings; and Media. The Donley Watt Papers contain significant correspondence with Scott Busby, Bill Root, Paul Malone, Bill Shearer, and Robert Compton. Short story and essay titles often are repeated in Series III and Series IV. This follows the original arrangement of the collection by Donley Watt.

SERIES I: Personal Papers, 1970 - 2004

Boxes 1 - 2

This series contains personal papers, photographs, correspondence, travel papers, notes, and newspaper clippings that pertain to every aspect of Donley Watt’s life.  The photograph folder includes headshots, formal occasions, vacations, and research trips.  In addition, there are proofs for printing on book covers.  Each section with correspondence is organized chronologically (1970–2004), and by subject (university, awards/speeches/ employment, and specific individuals).  Individuals Donley Watt corresponded with in high volume include Bill Shearer; John Graves, Bill Root, Paul Malone, and Scott Busby.  Correspondence with Ron Query occurs throughout the correspondence years of 1970 through 2004.

SERIES II: Novels, 1994-2004

Boxes 3 – 12

This series is in chronological order by publication date for the novel.  Each subseries is a different novel. The subseries contain correspondence, promotions, book reviews, notes, and drafts that pertain to that book. Day of the Dead remained unpublished. Some subseries contain drafts of short stories that later became developed into novels.

SERIES III: Short Fiction

Boxes 12 – 16  

This series is arranged by short story ideas, the published works in Can You Get There From Here?, and the two novellas in Haley, Texas 1959.  The subseries contains correspondence and promotions pertaining to the published works.  The bulk of the series consists of drafts with notes.  The subseries Short Story Ideas is in alphabetical order by the title.  The folders in the subseries Can You Get There From Here? are arranged alphabetically.


SERIES IV: Other Writings

Box 17

This series contains essays, poetry, and book reviews of other authors. Most reviews published are from the Dallas Morning News between 1988 and 1995. Folders contain typescripts, copies of printed reviews, drafts, and notes.  Poetry is principally student work. The essays and poetry are in alphabetical order.  The reviews are in alphabetical order by the name of the author critiqued. 



Box 18

This series contains a VHS video of Donley Watt lecturing.  It also contains versions of drafts from various works on 3 ½” discs and two HD floppies.

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