The Princeton University Library is delighted to announce that the award-winning American author and conservationist Thomas A. Barron ’74 has donated his literary papers to the Library. The T. A. Barron Papers (C1522) are in the Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. Barron is the author of more than thirty books, including many well-known mythic-quest and fantasy novels, published in series such as The Great Tree of Avalon, which is a New York Times bestselling trilogy; The Atlantis Saga; The Adventures of Kate trilogy; and The Merlin Saga, currently being adapted for film by Disney.
Barron’s writing has been compared to that of authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Madeleine L’Engle. Barron has said of his writing, “My first priority is to craft enjoyable stories. Beyond that, I hope to create characters, plots, and themes that raise the big questions of life. Good fantasy isn’t an escape from reality, but rather an alternate, deeper view of reality.”
The T. A. Barron Papers include more than twenty linear feet of files about this popular author’s life and work. His papers provide full documentation for his novels, children’s books, nature books, and other published work since 1990, including outlines, concept summaries, original maps, and editorial correspondence; handwritten drafts, usually on legal pads, as well as corrected typescripts and proofs, and bound galleys; hardback and paperback editions; translations into German, Chinese, French, Spanish, Japanese, and other languages; audio books by Listening Library; and publishers’ promotional materials. In addition, the papers include articles, speeches, interviews, videos, unpublished writings, fan mail, and correspondence with other authors.
The papers are a welcome addition to the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, which already has strong holdings in the area of children’s and young adult literature, especially printed books and original artwork in the Cotsen Children’s Library. The Manuscripts Division holds the archives of many other authors, including several who also wrote for young audiences, such as Mary Mapes Dodge, best known for the novel Hans Brinker, or, The Silver Skates (1866) and as editor of St. Nicholas magazine; and Frances Hodgson Burnett, author of Little Lord Fauntleroy (1886) and The Secret Garden (1911).
Barron’s youth was on a ranch near Colorado Springs, Colorado, close to Pikes Peak. As a Princeton undergraduate, he majored in history and politics and wrote his senior thesis on U.S. Presidential elections. He was awarded the prestigious Pyne Prize as well as the Class of 1901 Medal. In addition, Barron was named a Rhodes Scholar, which enabled him to attend Balliol College at Oxford University. After extensive travels in Europe, Asia, and Africa, he went on to receive JD and MBA degrees from Harvard University. Barron had a successful business career in New York City but then in 1989 decided to focus on writing, his passion since childhood. Since returning to Colorado in 1990 with his wife Currie and family, he has been a full-time author and conservationist. His first published novel was Heartlight (1990), the first volume in The Adventures of Kate trilogy, published by Philomel Books and Puffin Books, imprints of Penguin Books USA.
Barron has received many writing honors and awards, such as the de Grummond Medallion (2011) for “lifetime contribution to the field of children’s and young adult literature.” He has also written the nonfiction book The Hero’s Trail, which profiles diverse young people who have shown exceptional courage, perseverance, and compassion. In addition, he has written several illustrated children’s books including Where Is Grandpa? and High as a Hawk: A Brave Girl’s Historic Climb. His conservationist’s reverence for the natural world is present in much of his writing, including his two nature books about Rocky Mountains wilderness.
The Barrons have provided generous support to the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI), which made possible creation of the Thomas A. and Currie C. Barron Visiting Professorship in Humanities and the Environment; the Barron Family Fund for Innovations in Environmental Studies, which supports efforts by students and faculty to make connections between humanities and the environment; the T. A. Barron Prize for Environmental Leadership, awarded annually to a student who shows extraordinary leadership in environmental issues in any field; and the Henry David Thoreau Freshman Seminar in Environmental Writing. Barron is a former Princeton charter trustee and alumni trustee, and serves on PEI’s advisory board. He has also been very active with conservation organizations such as EarthJustice, The Nature Conservancy, and The Wilderness Society, which honored him with the Robert Marshall Award (1997), its highest award to a citizen conservationist. In 2000, he founded the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, which honors outstanding young people from diverse backgrounds who have made significant positive impacts on their communities and the environment.
The T. A. Barron Papers are now available for research. A finding aid is available. For information about using the Barron Papers and other collection, please contact Public Services, firstname.lastname@example.org