Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Robinson (Frank M.) papers
BANC MSS 2015/159  
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (90.99 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Alternate Forms Available
  • Related Collections
  • Separated Materials
  • Acquisition Information
  • Accruals
  • System of Arrangement
  • Processing Information
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Scope and Contents

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: The Bancroft Library
    Title: Frank M. Robinson papers
    Creator: Robinson, Frank M., 1926-2014
    Source: Andover Street Archives
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 2015/159
    Physical Description: 11 linear feet 8 cartons, 1 document box, 1 card file box, 1 oversize folder
    Date (inclusive): 1939-2014
    Abstract: This collection documents the life and career of science fiction writer Frank M. Robinson. It includes correspondence; manuscripts for Robinson's short fiction, longer works, and screenplays; research material and reviews; conracts and royalty agreements; and personal material. Included are the drafts of Robinson's memoir, Not So Good a Gay Man, and material documenting his involvement in San Francisco counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s and his work as a speechwriter for San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk.
    Language of Material: Collection materials are in English.
    Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.

    Access

    Collection is open for research, with exception of unprocessed digital material.
    Access requires at least 24 hours advance notice.
    Inquiries regarding digital materials should be submitted to The Bancroft Library via the Notice of Interest in Unprocessed Collections form: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/libraries/bancroft-library/unprocessed-collections-form

    Publication Rights

    Materials in this collection may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.
    All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley 94720-6000. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Frank M. Robinson papers, BANC MSS 2015/159, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Alternate Forms Available

    There are no alternate forms of this collection.

    Related Collections

    Pictorial material from the Frank M. Robinson papers, BANC PIC 2016.004.

    Separated Materials

    Photographs have been transferred to teh Pictorial Collections of the Bancroft Library (BANC PIC 2016.004).
    Digital materials have been transferred to the Digital Collections Unit of the Bancroft Library.

    Acquisition Information

    The Frank M. Robinson papers were purchased by The Bancroft Library from Andover Street Archives in May 2015.

    Accruals

    No additions are expected.

    System of Arrangement

    Arranged to the folder level.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Lori Dedeyan in 2017.

    Biographical / Historical

    Frank M. Robinson was born on August 9, 1926 in Chicago, Illinois. At the age of three, his parents were divorced and his father, a check forger, returned to Canada. His mother began working as a matron in the Lawrence Hall Home for Boys in Chicago, on the condition that her three children were taken in. Robinson lived in Lawrence Hall until he was eight years old, when his mother married and established a home with Robert Knox. Knox, a bank accountant with two children of his own, became stepfather to Frank and his two brothers. During the first year of the remarriage, Robinson spent the summer with Dorothy Hall, his mother’s closest friend, and her partner, Claudia Wanamaker, who had a cabin on the shores of Lake Michigan near Macatawa.
    At age 16, Robinson graduated high school. He was by this time a science fiction fan and had bought a run of early Weird Tales, Wonders, and other magazines. As a teenager, he worked as a copyboy for International News Service and later became an office boy for Ziff Davis, where he met authors Bob Bloch, Bill Hamling, Bill McGivern, and others. He also went to local conventions, where he continued collecting.
    Robinson was drafted into the Navy during World War II, in 1943. After his tour of duty, he attended Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin, where he majored in physics. His first story was published in Astounding in 1950, the year of his graduation. Because he could find no work as a writer, he ended up back in the Navy to serve in Korea and continued to write during his tour—“Untitled Story” was written during this time and sold to Astounding magazine. Once out of the navy, he entered graduate school for journalism at Northwestern University. After graduating, he worked for a Chicago- based Sunday supplement, and then with Science Digest. His novel, The Power, was written during this time.
    When Science Digest changed ownership and moved to New York, Robinson began working as an editor on Bill Hamling’s Rogue Magazine, which published many science fiction stories. He worked there from 1959 to 1965, when it was also sold. He moved to Los Angeles and began work as an editor for Gallery. When it, too, was sold, Robinson moved briefly to San Francisco (where he “became an overage quasi-hippie”) and then back to Chicago in 1969 as the Playboy Advisor for Playboy magazine. After three years, he returned to San Francisco and wrote The Glass Inferno with Thomas Scortia, which was adapted in 1974 into a film, The Towering Inferno, starring Paul Newman and Steve McQueen.
    Robinson continued to write full- time and produced several mysteries and thrillers before returning to science fiction with The Dark Beyond the Stars (1991). Afterwards he produced two coffee table books with Collectors Press: Science Fiction of the 20th Century (1991) and Pulp Culture: The Art of Fiction Magazines (2001).
    Robinson, who was gay, was a speechwriter for gay politician Harvey Milk. After Milk's assassination, Robinson was co-executor, with Scott Smith, of Milk's last will and testament. Robinson had a small role in the film Milk, directed by Gus Van Sant and written by Dustin Lance Black, and maintained a lasting friendship with Black.
    In 2009 he was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame.

    Scope and Contents

    This collection documents the life and career of science fiction writer Frank M. Robinson. It includes correspondence; manuscripts for Robinson's short fiction, longer works, and screenplays; research material and reviews; and conracts and royalty agreements. Included are the drafts of Robinson's memoir, Not So Good a Gay Man, and material documenting his involvement in San Francisco counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s and his work as a speechwriter for San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk.
    The collection has been arranged into five series:
    Series 1 (Correspondence) includes personal and professional correspondence.
    Series 2 (Writing) includes typescripts and print copies of articles for various San Francisco papers, science fiction and pulp stories, longer fiction and novels, and memoir. It also includes treatments and screenplays for film and television.
    Series 3 (Professional career) includes notes and research, publicity and reviews, contracts and royalty statements, and screenplays by others.
    Series 4 (Personal material) includes secondary school, college, and military service material; address books; financial and estate planning and Robinson's will; and other personal documents.
    Series 5 (Audio material) includes broadcast recordings of Robinson's work and an oral history interview with Robinson.
    Digital materials include drafts for stories, novels, and screenplays, such as Anna, The Dark Beyond the Stars, The Errand Boy, Father's Day, Heaven, Inferno, The Rapture, The Terrorist, and other unfinished works. Also included are oral histories, recordings of a Harvey Milk Memorial unveiling event, broadcast recordings of Robinson's works, and other material. This material is unavailable until processed.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Science fiction, American
    Pulp literature, American
    Gay authors--United States
    Gays--California--San Francisco
    Robinson, Frank M.
    Andover Street Archives