Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Colin Fletcher Papers
MS 17  
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (132.23 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Processing Information
  • Biography
  • Bibliography
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms
  • Separated Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Colin Fletcher papers
    Dates: 1900-2007
    Dates: (bulk 1960-2000)
    Collection number: MS 17
    Creator: Fletcher, Colin
    Collection Size: 169 half cartons
    Repository: University of California, Santa Cruz. University Library. Special Collections and Archives
    Santa Cruz, California 95064
    Abstract: This collection includes manuscripts and drafts of both Colin Fletcher's published and unpublished material, personal and business correspondence, scrapbooks and biographical material, photographs, slides & maps related to his travels and writings, as well as some audio media and realia.
    Physical location: Collection stored off-site at NRLF: Advance notice is required for access.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English


    Collection open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Literary rights are gifted to the Regents, but managed by literary executor Carl Brandt, of Brandt and Hochman Literary Agents, New York.

    Preferred Citation

    Colin Fletcher Papers. MS 17. Special Collections and Archives, University Library, University of California, Santa Cruz.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Colin Fletcher, 1994, and the estate of Colin Fletcher, 2008, 2010

    Processing Information

    This collection has been sorted but only minimally processed.


    Colin Evan Boulton Fletcher was born in Cardiff, Wales on March 14, 1922. He was educated in England and served for six years in the Royal Marines, advancing from Marine to Captain during World War II. In 1946 he married his first wife, Sonia Mary Savage, in Bexhill, England. Together they managed a hotel in Kenya from 1947 to 1948, but in February 1951 the marriage ended in divorce, after Mr. Fletcher had already moved on to become a farmer. In July of 1952 he left Kenya to help with surveying and road building in Southern Rhodesia.
    He then returned to England, and while working for an export company accompanied a shipment of cattle to Canada, where he stayed on, moving to a cabin in Cowichan Bay on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. He worked as a geologist's assistant in Canada until September 9, 1956, when he entered the United States and moved south to California.
    One of his first jobs in San Francisco was acting as Santa Claus in the City of Paris department store, something he already had experience doing in Kenya and had enjoyed immensely. He soon found janitorial work at a San Francisco hospital, but from February of 1958 on he considered himself a professional writer. He had already been writing many articles and stories for various publications, even in Africa, but in 1958 he walked the length of California and the journey resulted in his first full-length book, The Thousand Mile Summer. He was briefly married a second time in 1959 to Thelma Iveagh Mary Brad. From 1962 through the autumn of 1971 he lived in Berkeley, attending at least one class at the University of California before turning to writing as a full-time occupation, on the way to becoming a best-selling author of ten books. His most famous book, The Man Who Walked Through Time, is based on the trek he completed in 1963, when he became the first person, by himself and all in one go, to walk the length of Grand Canyon National Park.
    In late 1971 he moved to Carmel Valley, California, some 125 miles to the south, where he found a modest home above the valley and bordering the Ventana Wilderness to serve as a home base for his extensive travels. By this time he was considered "the father of modern backpacking" and an American folk hero.
    In 2001 he was hit by a car while walking near his home, and although he was in excellent shape, he never completely recovered, and died six years later (in June of 2007) as a result of his injuries. Besides his 10 published books, there are 4 unpublished books and hundreds of articles and stories, as well as an autobiographical manuscript he had worked on for years, but which never got beyond covering his childhood. The successive editions of The Complete Walker remain definitive works in the history of backpacking.


    • Title: The Thousand Mile Summer,
      Date: 1964
    • Title: The Man Who Walked Through Time,
      Date: 1968
    • Title: The Complete Walker (1st ed.),
      Date: 1968
    • Title: The Winds of Mara,
      Date: 1973
    • Title: The New Complete Walker,
      Date: 1974
    • Title: The Man from the Cave,
      Date: 1981
    • Title: The Complete Walker III,
      Date: 1984
    • Title: The Secret Worlds of Colin Fletcher,
      Date: 1989
    • Title: River: One Man's Journey Down the Colorado, Source to Sea,
      Date: 1997
    • Title: The Complete Walker IV,
      Date: 2001

    Scope and Content of Collection

    This collection includes correspondence, business papers, notes, drafts and manuscripts of published and unpublished works, scrapbooks, maps, slides, audiotapes and photographs related to Fletcher's travels and writings.
    The collection is divided into 7 series: Biographical; Correspondence; Writings (monographs, short stories and articles, unpublished manuscripts, notebooks, and literary miscellany); Media; Maps; Images (slides, photographs and negatives); and Realia.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Fletcher , Colin--Archives
    Grand Canyon (Ariz.)
    California--Description and travel

    Separated Material

    Mr. Fletcher's personal books (including those written by himself) and his personal copy of Edward Abbey's The Monkey Wrench Gang, have been cataloged separately. They are available through the library's online catalog.