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Gary Younge
Mailer sells his papers to Texas

Mailer, 82, has handed over documents weighing almost nine tonnes and ranging from war letters he wrote to his first wife, Beatrice Silverman, which formed the basis for his first published novel, The Naked and the Dead, to dog identification tags, sales receipts and cancelled cheques.

The collection, which was bought by the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, also includes correspondence with the novelist and essayist James Baldwin on civil rights, the writer Joan Didion on literature and the poet Robert Lowell on Vietnam.

There are also a dozen finished screenplays, French aviation scrapbooks and observations on New York graffiti art.

"I have always had the most intense feelings about Texas, both pro and con. In a funny way, what I am saying about America - that I love it and hate it when it goes bad on me - I can say about Texas," said Mailer, who lives in Provincetown, Massachusetts, in a speech in Austin this week.

He said he had chosen the Ransom Center because it had one of the finest collections of literary archives in America.

However, he had given considerable thought to the fact that his papers would be archived in President George W Bush's home state. He was concerned that "some damn fool... Texas legislator could stand up and say, 'What's this Ransom library doing with that atheist Norman Mailer?'"

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