These manuscript images have been selected from the Joyce Carol Oates Papers in the Special Collections Research Center at the Syracuse University Libraries. Images were chosen for their intrinsic visual interest, and for their ability to display some of JCO’s work-habits in the early, note-taking stages of her novels.

Map of Winterthurn CityA “typical” novel in the archive would consist of folders of notes, as well as up to three complete type-written drafts. The images here were taken almost exclusively from the notes.

See “The Madness of Scholarship: In the Joyce Carol Oates Archive” for Greg Johnson’s fascinating description of JCO’s working papers.

All manuscript images are in pdf format.

Images may not be reproduced without permission of Joyce Carol Oates.


American Appetites 01

Annotation by Joyce Carol Oates:
“Rejected ending of American Appetites.”

Annotation by Randy Souther:
I found this page interesting for the very reason that JCO notes: it is a variant ending from the one that we know from the published novel.


American Appetites 02

Notes for Part 3 of the novel: individual characters and events. Much of it crossed out.


American Appetites 03

A short typed paragraph, with the written note “End?” next to it. This in fact became the novel’s beginning, rather than its ending.


Bellefleur 01

The discovery of Vernon’s book of poetry: “Query.” Typed page with interesting written notes that seem to have little to do with the typed material: the time, date, weather, and fauna (seen outside JCO’s window?). Several women’s faces surrounding the character name “Rache,” and the word AVENGER repeated several times. Very interesting.


Bellefleur 02

Trying out an early title: “Bellefleur: A Pastoral,” with “an informal index of various motifs, events, people, themes.” Among many interesting notes we find that Raphael started out as “Phineas.”


Bellefleur 03

Continuation of the previous “index.” Includes an early, and very different, sketch of “Duck,” better known in the published book as “Nightshade.”


Bellefleur 04

Early outline of parts 1 and 2 of the novel. Typed and heavily annotated.


Bellefleur 05

Hand-written table of contents with page numbers.


Bellefleur 06

Table of contents (continued).


Bellefleur 07

Notes on Mahalaleel and Gideon on University of Windsor memo paper.


Bellefleur 08

Early draft of opening paragraph. Typed. Note that it is in the first-person, spoken by Germaine.


Bellefleur 09

Notes on the night of Germaine’s birth. (And did Dutton pay a $1 million advance on this book . . . ?


Bellefleur 10

Another early attempt at the opening paragraph. Hand written. Clearly earlier than “Bellefleur 08.”


Bellefleur 11

Top half of page is part of a typed manuscript. Bottom half is a sketched meditation on the words “Bellefleur” and “Blood.”


Bellefleur 12

Typed notes for Book II. Heavily annotated by hand.


Bellefleur 13

Notes for Book III. Heavily annotated.


Bellefleur 14

Another version of the opening. Now in the third-person, and getting close to the published version.


Bellefleur 15

Notes on the chapter “The Elopement.”


Bellefleur 16

Notes on Matilde. “Mad baroque quilt(s). Paradigm of novel.”


Bellefleur 17

Notes for chapters on the Varrells, the Indian boy Charles Xavier, and Jedediah. And a particularly dense quilt of sketched names and faces.


Bellefleur 18

An entire page of sketching and doodling. Of purely visual interest.


Bellefleur 19

Fascinating synopsis of the novel via the characters. “Episodic, loosely structured, anecdotal: something I have never tried before. A series of tales centered about the Bellefleur rise and fall. But of course really a vast metaphor (as lavish as I can invent) for Germaine’s childhood, the imagination of childhood . . . the imagination itself.”


Bellefleur 20

“(rejected fictitious author’s note to BELLEFLEUR) None of the statements on the page is true! I only vaguely recall writing it. I see that I’d even drawn my parents (my father’s name is misspelled with a ‘k’) into it. I don’t want anyone to think that any of this is true.”


A Bloodsmoor Romance 01

Notes on John Quincy Zinn and Prudence Kiddemaster.


Broke Heart Blues 01

If you’re having difficulty keeping all the characters straight in Broke Heart Blues, here’s a handy chart to aid you.


Broke Heart Blues 02

Character chart continued.


The Accursed 01

A scary scene, complete, in its way, on two sides of an envelope, side 1.


The Accursed 02

Scary scene on evelope, side 2.


The Accursed 03

Lists of flowers and herbs for possible use in the novel.


The Accursed 04

Lists of furnishings for possible use in the novel.


The Accursed 05

Dramatis Personae.


The Accursed 06

Dramatis Personae (continued).


Foxfire 01

Rejected openings?


Foxfire 02

Top of page seems to be from Because It Is Bitter And Because It Is My Heart. Bottom of page is from Foxfire.
“Not long ago I saw an old movie of Marilyn Monroe’s from the Fifties, the sudden perception came to me that there was a person trapped inside the jiggly overripe slightly comical flesh . . .” (A hint of novels to come.)


Foxfire 03

Hand written notes in two columns: Legs in Red Bank. On top of type written notes running in opposite direction: tattoos.


I Lock My Door Upon Myself 01

The evolution of the title, of Cala’s name, and of her color scheme.


I Lock My Door Upon Myself 02

A column of hand written notes and a column of doodles, written on a working page for the play Tone Clusters.


I Lock My Door Upon Myself 03

Type written page, heavily annotated.


My Heart Laid Bare 01

A plan for part 1 of the novel, at this point titled “My Heart Laid Bare: A Chronicle of the Infamous Lichts of Old Muirkirk.” Typed and heavily annotated in multiple colored pens. Included in the margin are sketches of women’s faces and repeated names of characters and places; both elements appear in many manuscript pages, with the repeated names often taking the form of variations on JCO’s own name.


My Heart Laid Bare 02

The rules of The Game. “Past?—it is but the graveyard of the Future.”


Mysteries of Winterthurn 01

“How, how to organize this welter of material!”


Mysteries of Winterthurn 02

Early versions of the “Author’s Note” to the first mystery.


Mysteries of Winterthurn 03

Hand-drawn map of Winterthurn City. Likely hung over JCO’s desk during composition of the novel.


Mysteries of Winterthurn 04

Table of contents to The Bloodstained Bridal Gown, appropriately written in blood (or perhaps red ink).


Mysteries of Winterthurn 05

“Angels may turn demons …” Working out an important theme of the novel.


Mysteries of Winterthurn 06

Early musings: “Mysteries of Winterthur”; “Sherlock Holmes”; “My spiritual autobiography”


Mysteries of Winterthurn 07

Crossed-out notes on the first mystery, and Simon Esdras. Doodled faces.


Mysteries of Winterthurn 08

Kilgarvan family tree, and important characters.


Mysteries of Winterthurn 09

Creating Georgina’s poetry.


Mysteries of Winterthurn 10

“Clues” to the final mystery.


Mysteries of Winterthurn 11

Lists of potential names, both character and place. Mysteries of Solebury County … interesting.


Mysteries of Winterthurn 12

Outlining the second mystery.


What I Lived For 01

Map of Union City.


What I Lived For 02

Notes on Corky at Mass.


What I Lived For 03

Hand written list / outline of novel’s “Events.”


You Must Remember This 01

Map of Port Oriskany.


You Must Remember This 02

Outline of part 2.


You Must Remember This 03

Notes on boxing, Felix, and Joe Louis.


You Must Remember This 04

Notes on Lyle Stevick.


Zombie 01

“A Plan for Zombie”


Zombie 02

A checklist of possible scenes.


Zombie 03

“Is time outside me?” Drawing of clock with no hands.


Zombie 04

Quentin purchases his first ice pick.


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