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Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno papers related to Paul Bowles

Identifier: MSS 0165

Scope and Content Note

The Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno Papers Related to Paul Bowles, spanning the dates 1946-1989 (bulk 1985-1989), consist of 2.3 linear feet of research material gathered by Sawyer-Lauçanno for his biography of Paul Bowles, An Invisible Spectator. The papers include Sawyer-Lauçanno's correspondence with Paul Bowles, his editor, and friends of Paul Bowles.

In his letters to Sawyer-Lauçanno, Paul Bowles discussed his lack of enthusiasm for An Invisible Spectator, as well as mentioned his travels and daily activities.

Also present in the papers are letters from some of Bowles's friends written to Sawyer-Lauçanno. There are letters from Bruce Morrissette, Buffie Johnson, Virgil Thomson, Gore Vidal, Edward Field, Edouard Roditi, and Ned Rorem. Many of the senders are commenting on their relationship to Paul Bowles and/or on the life or writing of Paul Bowles.

Additionally, the papers include photographs of Bowles and others; audio cassette tapes of interviews with Bowles and his friends; transcripts and research notes; material related to the "Festival Manca," which featured music composed by Bowles; as well as contracts, drafts, and page proofs related to An Invisible Spectator.

An inscribed copy of sheet music for "Letter to Freddy," for which Bowles composed the music and Gertrude Stein wrote the words, is also part of the collection.

Bound page proofs and copies of the editions published by Bloomsbury and Weidenfeld & Nicolson have been removed and cataloged for the printed collection of Special Collections.


  • Creation: 1946-1989
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1985-1989


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections, University of Delaware Library,

Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno

Writer and educator Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno was born January 4, 1951, in San Mateo, California. After attending Southwestern College, Chula Vista, California, from 1968 to 1970, he received a B.A. degree from the University of California in 1971. Later he received both M.A. (1975) and Ph.D. (1983) degrees from Brandeis University.

Sawyer-Lauçanno's professional career has included performing field research for Human Factors, Inc. (1973–1974), teaching foreign languages at Brandeis University (1974–1977), and teaching English as a second language at Dean Junior College (1977–1980) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1982– ). He also was a staff writer for Time-Life Educational Systems Co. in Tokyo, Japan (1980–1982), as well as a free-lance technical translator.

Best known for his biography of Paul Bowles, An Invisible Spectator (1990), Sawyer-Lauçanno has also written numerous texts on learning or teaching the English language. His translations include the work of Federico Garcia Lorca and Chilam Balam, as well as his most recent publication, Rafael Alberti's Concerning the Angels (1995). He has also written The Continual Pilgrimage: American Writers in Paris, 1945-1950 (1992) and contributed poetry, articles, and translations to a wide variety of periodicals, including Nexus, American Poetry Review, and Translation.

Paul Bowles

The American composer and author Paul Frederic Bowles was born in New York City on December 30, 1910. Bowles was published at age seventeen, abandoned college, and in 1929 began his life of travels with a trip to Paris, where he hoped to establish himself as a poet. Back in New York in 1930, he studied composition with Aaron Copland, whom he also accompanied to Yaddo, Paris, Berlin, and Tangier. With the support of Copland and Virgil Thomson, Bowles found work in New York writing incidental music and scores for ballet and theater. His successful career as a composer took off in the Depression with work for the Federal Theater Project (including music for Orson Welles's Horse Eats Hat) and the Federal Music Project. Bowles became one of the preeminent composers of American theater music, producing works for William Saroyan, Tennessee Williams, and others. In the last decade, a resurgence of interest in Bowles's music has culminated in a number of major concerts and performances in the United States and Europe. In addition, a new generation of musicians has released several well-received recordings of Bowles's compositions.

In 1938, Paul Bowles married the aspiring writer Jane Auer, who shortly achieved critical acclaim for her first novel, Two Serious Ladies (1943). Inspired by Jane Bowles's success and her dedication to writing, Bowles began his own career as an author, eventually surpassing his already successful reputation as a composer. Since the 1940s, he has produced numerous works of fiction, essays, travel writing, poems, autobiographical pieces, and other works. Among Bowles's best-known fictional works are the novels The Sheltering Sky (1949), Let It Come Down (1952), The Spider's House (1955); and an early short story collection, The Delicate Prey and Other Stories (1950). A 1989 reprint of The Sheltering Sky and Bernardo Bertolucci's 1990 film version of the novel, starring Debra Winger and John Malkovich, revived international interest in Bowles, the writer.

Bowles is equally known as a prolific translator. He bestowed the title "No Exit" upon Jean-Paul Sartre's Huis Clos and his 1946 translation of that play remains the standard version for English language productions. During the 1940s, Bowles translated the poems and stories of a wide variety of European and Latin American authors. Bowles taped and transcribed from the Moghrebi tales by Mohammed Mrabet and several other Moroccan story tellers; and his translations have broadened readership of Guatemalan author Rodrigo Rey Rosa. Bowles has translated several works related to North African culture and geography, and has generously introduced and prefaced photographic collections, travel writing, and stories by other authors who share those interests.

Paul and Jane Bowles spent much of their married life traveling throughout the world and in the late 1940s made Tangier, Morocco, their permanent home. Major figures in the world of letters and the arts and international "society" frequently visited them there. Jane Bowles died in 1973, and Bowles continued to reside in Tangier until his death on November 18, 1999.

Miller, Jeffrey. Paul Bowles: A Descriptive Bibliography. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Black Sparrow Press, 1986. Sawyer-Laucanno, Christopher. An Invisible Spectator: A Biography of Paul Bowles. New York: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1989.


2.3 linear foot (7 boxes)


The Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno papers related to Paul Bowles consist of research material gathered by the writer and educator Sawyer-Lauçanno for his biography of American composer and writer Paul Bowles, titled An Invisible Spectator.


Purchase, October 1989.

Related Materials in this Repository

MSS 0110 Pagany archive

MSS 0163 Paul Bowles papers

MSS 0164 Paul Bowles collection

MSS 0323 Paul Bowles letters to William Saroyan

MSS 0324 Paul Bowles letters to John Martin

MSS 0571 Peter Owen Limited archive

Shelving Summary

  1. Boxes 1-7: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes


Processed by Anita A. Wellner, 1991. Encoded by Thomas Pulhamus, March 2010. Further encoding by Lauren Connolly, November 2015.

Finding aid for Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno papers related to Paul Bowles
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2010 March 3
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

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Newark DE 19717-5267 USA