Inspired by 20th Century American author Richard Brautigan, The Brautigan Library is a collaborative research and literacy project offering a collection of 304 physical and a growing number of digital manuscripts, all unpublished, shared by their authors, with interested readers worldwide.
In his 1971 novel, The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966, Richard Brautigan (1935-1984) described a library for manuscripts outside the interests of the commercial publishing industry, “the unwanted, the lyrical and haunted volumes of American writing.” Authors were free to place their manuscripts wherever they liked on the library’s shelves. Although no one could visit the library and read their manuscripts, the authors seemed happy that their visions and voices were collected and preserved.
Inspired by Brautigan’s vision, Todd Lockwood, of Burlington, Vermont, started The Brautigan Library in 1990, encouraging submissions of unpublished manuscripts regardless of topic or quality of writing, and opening the doors to visitors interested to browse or read them. Unable to sustain operations on donations and volunteer librarians, the original Brautigan Library was closed in 2005 and its collection of manuscripts placed in storage. In 2010, the library and its contents were moved to Vancouver, Washington, as a partnership between The Clark County Historical Museum, the former 1909 Andrew Carnegie library building in downtown Vancouver, Washington, USA, and The Creative Media & Digital Culture Program (CMDC) at Washington State University Vancouver, under the directorship of Susan M. G. Tissot, executive director of the museum, and John F. Barber, faculty member of the CMDC program.
The Brautigan Library is actively curated and administered by Barber and a community of local and international volunteers who coordinate access and outreach programs. Barber is also the developer and curator of Brautigan Bibliography and Archive, an interactive, online resource generally acknowledged as the premier information source for the life and works of Richard Brautigan, and the author of Richard Brautigan: An Annotated Bibliography and Richard Brautigan: Essays on the Writings and Life.
The Brautigan Library is available for reading during the open hours of The Clark County Historical Museum. No manuscripts circulate outside the collection. Each year, on the last Sunday of January, The Brautigan Library hosts National Unpublished Writers’ Day to celebrate Brautigan’s birthday and the democratic nature of writing broadly defined. Select “Events” in the menu above for more information.
Richard Gary Brautigan (1935-1984) was a 20th Century American writer whose novels, stories, and poetry are often cited as the best to depict the zeitgeist of the counterculture in San Francisco, California, during the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Brautigan, born in Tacoma, Washington, moved to San Francisco in 1956 after spending his childhood in Washington and Oregon. In San Francisco he rose to international prominence with the publication of his novel Trout Fishing in America (1967), his collection of poetry, The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster (1968) and his collection of stories, Revenge of the Lawn (1971).
Although Brautigan died in 1984, his legacy continues as writers, readers, artists, musicians, and others find inspiration and insight in his works while scholars and researchers find his work central to any study of The Sixties.
Learn more about the life and works of Richard Brautigan at The Brautigan Bibliography and Archive website, the preeminent resource for information about the life and writings of Brautigan, developed and maintained by Barber.