Remembering Larry McMurtry

black an white photo of a young Larry McMurtry sitting on a desk drink a Coca-Cola from a glass bottle

Larry McMurtry

The Contemporary Literature Research Collection at UH Special Collections preserves and makes accessible the personal papers of notable writers with connections to Houston and Texas, including Larry McMurtry (1936 – 2021). The Pulitzer Prize-winning author, who passed away in March at the age of 84, leaves a legacy of creative acclaim as sweeping as the sagas and settings portrayed in his writing.

“Larry McMurtry was one of Texas’s great literary figures: a novelist, screenwriter, and also notably a bookstore owner,” said Christian Kelleher, head of Special Collections. “There’s a lot that can be discovered in his extensive body of work. For me there’s a kind of ambition or yearning that may be particularly Texan. McMurtry’s personal archives at UH offer students and scholars many opportunities to better understand his work and what is unique about Texas literature.”

McMurtry was a Houston resident in the late 1950s and 60s. He completed graduate work at Rice University, later teaching creative writing there, and wrote book reviews for the Houston Post. In addition to early correspondence, short prose and poetry, and literary reviews from the period prior to the author’s success, the Larry McMurtry Papers includes an extensive collection of primary materials documenting his writing life, including handwritten notes and typewritten manuscript drafts of the novels Leaving Cheyenne, Moving On, Somebody’s Darling, Cadillac Jack, The Desert Rose, Lonesome Dove, and Texasville.

photo of handwritten notes and a character list from Lonesome Dove
photo of the cover of Horseman, Pass By

Items of particular interest are the first draft of The Last Picture Show, including handwritten notes, a character list, and synopsis, as well as a copy of the first printing of the 1967 Dell paperback; and a screenplay for Hud (the film adaptation of Horseman, Pass By).

The Larry McMurtry Papers are accessible to view on-site in Special Collections by appointment. Visitors may contact Christian Kelleher for more information.