AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – The archives of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Norman Mailer are heading to the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas.

Nearly 500 boxes weighing more than 20,000 pounds are expected to arrive in June at the Ransom Center, where they will be processed and eventually made available to scholars and the public. Mailer will speak at the university Wednesday and will officially announce the purchase of the collection.

A final agreement to sell the archives for $2.5 million was signed Thursday.

New York bookseller Glenn Horowitz contacted Ransom Center director Tom Staley late last year about buying the Mailer archives. The purchase price will be paid over five years, half of it paid by the university and half by the Ransom Center, according to published reports Monday in the Austin American-Statesman and The New York Times.

Mailer is donating $250,000 to set up an endowment to support the collection, money that will go toward archiving, online processing and paying for lectures.

Mailer became famous with his debut novel, 1948’s “The Naked and the Dead,” and has been a giant of American letters for more than half a century. Among his best-known works, both fiction and nonfiction, are “Advertisements for Myself,” “Miami and the Siege of Chicago,” “The Armies of the Night,” for which he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1969, and “The Executioner’s Song,” a Pulitzer Winner in 1980.

In an e-mail exchange with The New York Times, Mailer, 82 and living in Provincetown, Mass., cited several reasons for choosing the University of Texas, including a strong bond he forged with his fellow soldiers, many from Texas, in the South Pacific during World War II.

“I went overseas from a Fort Bragg artillery training unit to Leyte, where I was assigned to the 112th Cavalry,” Mailer said in his e-mail. “They had been stripped of their horses, becoming, in effect, infantry. In that outfit, I learned a good bit about Texas and Texans, so that may have been a factor in choosing the University of Texas.

“However, despite a few sentimental and cultural attachments to the state, the largest part of my decision grew out of the fact that the Ransom Center at the University of Texas has one of the finest, if not the finest, collections of American literary archives in the world.”

Staley said that Mailer’s archive is particularly valuable because the author was “involved in so many of the major issues of the 20th century: Vietnam, the First Amendment, the death penalty. … He did so many things that changed the novel and the ways in which we write.”

Mailer has kept a thorough record of his doings. For example, about 25,000 of his letters have been saved as carbon copies and computer files.

Michael Lennon, executor of Mailer’s estate, called Mailer a “string saver.” According to Lennon, who has cataloged much of the archive, it is brimming with literary oddities: a dozen finished screenplays, including one about Civil War Gen. Dan Sickles; French aviation scrapbooks; observations on New York graffiti; and copies of CIA intelligence reports he used in researching his 1991 novel, “Harlot’s Ghost.”

The Ransom Center, founded in 1957, boasts holdings that are said to be worth $1 billion. It owns the papers of a number of prominent writers and in 2003 acquired the Woodward-Bernstein Watergate papers for $5 million.


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