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Guide to the Sheila Ortiz-Taylor Papers CEMA 13
CEMA 13  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Series Description
  • Biography
  • Conditions Governing Access note
  • Conditions Governing Use note

  • Title: Sheila Ortiz-Taylor Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: CEMA 13
    Contributing Institution: UC Santa Barbara Library, Department of Special Collections
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 4.0 linear feet 9 boxes
    Date (inclusive): 1957-2006
    Abstract: The Sheila Ortiz-Taylor collection contains material relating primarily to her work as a writer and a teacher. The collection takes up four linear feet and is continually being added to by Ortiz-Taylor, as her work as a scholar and writer continues. Most of the material in the collection focuses specifically on her novels and includes her drafts of these novels, many of them annotated for correction. The scope of the manuscript, as well as the notes on revisions to be made, are invaluable as they illuminate her method and style during the writing process. The collection contains samples of Ortiz-Taylor's writing from her work as a university student, and later, to her recognition as a noted and critically acclaimed novelist. Because of this comprehensive sampling of her work, the collection gives valuable insight into Ortiz-Taylor's growth as an icon of Chicana writing.

    Series Description

    Series 1 Personal and Biographical information. Series one is arranged as one series, in order of its creation where possible, and following chronological order where ever possible. The series covers the period from 1963 to 1997. It begins with Ortiz-Taylor's travel journal from a trip to Europe in 1963. Included is a journal which was periodically maintained from 1963 to 1965. This second journal contains quotes and some story ideas as well as samples of Ortiz-Taylor's early writing style. Series one contains several interviews with Ortiz-Taylor, covering such topics as, lesbian mothers and other aspects of her novels. These interviews help to describe her thought process during the writing of her novels, for example explanations on various themes she works with in her writing, and comments on writing in general. Lastly, series one contains a lecture written for a women's workshop on her experiences in becoming a published writer. This first series is contained within the first box of the collection. The material in this series is arranged from biographical information throughout the collection, which relate to this subject.
    Series 2 Correspondence. The majority of the letters in series two were written to Sheila Ortiz-Taylor during the years 1992-2006. These letters were sent to her by the general public in response to her published books. Small collections of letters refer to Ortiz-Taylor's relationship with Naiad Press, publisher of Faultline, Slow Dancing at Miss Polly's, Southbound, and Spring Forward/Fall Back. The correspondence is arranged in four folders within the first box. Series two is further divided into two sub series, Correspondence with Publishers and General Literary Correspondence.
    Series 3 Writings. This series, consisting of seven sub series, is by far the largest of the collection. There are seven sub series spanning six boxes. The first is, Published works: manuscripts 1972-1996 consisting of four manuscripts/drafts of her published works arranged chronologically from Faultline in 1972 to Coachella, in 1998. The second sub series Published works from journals and periodicals 1977-2003 contains excerpts of her work printed in various magazines and journals. Sub series three is self explanatory; titled Miscellaneous Books, consisting of two foreign language versions of Faultline and one book of poetry entitled North of Wakulla, annotated with comments to Ortiz-Taylor from her peers in literature. Also included in this sub series is the lesbian theme calendar, Lesbian Muse. Sub series four, Unpublished works: manuscripts 1970-1999 contains manuscripts of Ortiz-Taylor's as of yet unpublished work arranged in chronological order. There are five complete draft manuscripts, as well as academic papers Ortiz-Taylor wrote while in college. These papers reveal some of Ortiz-Taylor's thought process in the writing of her unpublished dissertation Surrealism in the Picaresque Novel. The fifth sub series, Unpublished academic papers and stories, spans most of box 7 and contains 23 of Ortiz-Taylor's academic papers. Annotated by professors and spanning a variety of subjects from 1957 to 2006 (some of the papers are undated). This portion of the collection shows in detail the formation of Ortiz-Taylor's intellectual foundation in English literature. The sixth sub series, Bibliographic Contributions is a detailed accounting of her work in several bibliographic publications as well as correspondence relating to her bibliographic work. The seventh and final sub series, Miscellany contains free-writes and plot mapping giving an indication of Ortiz-Taylor's work habits.
    Series 4 Reviews and Publicity. This series deals specifically with the reviews and critiques of Sheila Ortiz-Taylor's books and her relationship with Naiad press, the primary publisher of her work. It is separated into critiques dealing specifically with Naiad press and each book in chronological order of their publishing.
    Series 5 Video and Audio Recordings. Series five contains one video and one audiotape. Both tapes were made at Florida State University, and detail the contributions Ortiz-Taylor has made to that university. The videotape is excellent visual documentation of her Martin Luther King award for teaching excellence.


    Sheila Ortiz-Taylor is a critically acclaimed Chicana novelist, poet and lecturer, and winner of the Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Award (1997). Born in Los Angeles in 1939, Ortiz-Taylor began writing poetry and plays as early as junior high school. She says of her upbringing: "Daughters of a tap dancer and a yo-yo painter, my sister and I were sitting ducks for the muses, who handed her a paint set and me three yellow pencils." Upon graduation from high school, Ortiz-Taylor enrolled at UCLA where she completed one year as an English Major with a Spanish Minor. The following year, in 1958, She was married and relocated to Iowa where she worked as a nurse's aid with handicapped children and as a secretary. She returned to Los Angeles and enrolled again as a sophomore in 1960 where she won the Mabel Wilson Richards Fellowship. In 1961, she transferred to California State University, Northridge, where she graduated with a Bachelors degree in English, (Cum Laude), and was named Outstanding Student of Language and Literature in 1963. After a summer of travel in Europe, Ortiz-Taylor returned to UCLA where she eventually received her M.A. in 1964 and her Ph.D. in 1972.
    During the period from 1964 to 1972, Ortiz-Taylor also worked on her book Emily Dickinson, a Bibliography. This piece was heralded as one of the most complete and essential bibliographies of its kind. Ortiz-Taylor continued to contribute bibliographical pieces to American Literary Realism and to Twentieth Century Literature and it was during this time that she became the proud mother of two daughters, Andrea Bo Clendenning and Jessica Ann Clendenning. Eventually, through perseverance and hard work, Ortiz- Taylor became an important and critically acclaimed novelist. Her work includes the novels Faultline (Naiad, 1982,1995), Spring Forward/Fall Back (Naiad, 1985), Southbound (Naiad, 1990), and Coachella (University of New Mexico, 1998), as well as a volume of poetry, Slow Dancing at Miss Polly’s (Naiad, 1989) and the memoir Imaginary Parents (University of New Mexico, 1996). The Oxford Companion to Women’s Writing in the United States called Faultline “the first Chicana lesbian novel.”
    Ortiz-Taylor was a Professor of English at Florida State University where she also served as Director of Women’s Studies. She has received numerous awards for her work; she has been writer-in-residence at the Guadalupe Cultural Center, the Cottages at Hedgebrook, the Hambidge Center, the Dorland Mountain Arts Colony, and the Fundación Valparaíso. A former Fulbright Fellow, she has also been recipient of the Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Fund Grant and a Florida Individual Artist Fellowship. Her awards include but are not limited to, the Teaching Incentive Program Award (1994 and 1999), the William R. Jones Most Valuable Mentor award (1994-1995), the University Teaching Award 1995-96, (Graduate level), and the Professional Excellence Program Award, 1996-97.

    Conditions Governing Access note

    Service copies of audiovisual items may need to be made before viewing or listening. Please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

    Conditions Governing Use note

    Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Department of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.