Skip to main content

José Donoso Papers

Identifier: MsC0340

  • Staff Only
  • Please navigate to collection organization to place requests.

Scope and Contents

Donoso's publishing history is well documented and thoroughly discussed in many venues. This collection provides notebooks, correspondence and typescripts that detail the development of some of Donoso's most significant works. Among the titles for which there are related materials are Coronacion, El Obsceno Pajaro de la Noche, Este Domingo, Paula Mancheno, El Lugar sin Limites, and several short stories. This material is organized in Series I and II.

The materials relating to El Obsceno Pajaro de la Noche have been given particular attention. Those associated with manuscript drafts (Box 3 folders 1-6) were closely inventoried by Gonzalo Campos-Dintrans in July 2007. Notebooks 15-32 are key documentation for Donoso's development of this novel; they were examined carefully by Maria Laura Bocaz in 2007-2008 and she used the results in her doctoral dissertation (2010). Her detailed notes, lightly edited, appear on the Notebooks inventory while a brief summary appears below. Bocaz also compiled the notes on the other notebooks recorded here.

The collection also includes significant correspondence from numerous writers to Donoso. The correspondence is primarily arranged alphabetically. Box 16 contains letters from Donoso to Maria Pilar written during their courtship, 1958-1961.

Literary rights are held by: Servicio de derechos de autor Agencia Literaria Carmen Balcells, Diagonal 580, E-08021 Barcelona, Spain

Phone: 34 - 93 - 200 8933 [Office] Phone: 34 - 93 - 200 7041 [Fax]

There are two separate indexes available to this collection: a classified index by genre and an index of Donoso's correspondents.


  • Creation: 1951-1967


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Biographical / Historical

Chilean author José Donoso Yanez was born October 5, 1924, to José Donoso and Alicia Yanez. His largely middle class upbringing included ten years of schooling at The Grange, a private school in Santiago, and a private English teacher. After initially leaving high school to travel in the south of Chile and Buenos Aires, Donoso returned to Santiago to complete his studies and entered the Universidad de Chile to study English language and literature. He was awarded a scholarship from the Doherty Foundation in 1949, which enabled him to continue his studies at Princeton University, where he and others founded a literary magazine, MSS.

Donoso returned to Santiago in 1952, where he was a journalist for five years and acted briefly as literary critic for Ercilla. Moving to Buenos Aires in 1958, Donoso met Maria del Pilar Serrano, a painter and translator, whom he married in 1961. The couple adopted a daughter, Pilar. The Donosos went to Mexico in 1964 to participate in a writers' congress sponsored by the American Foundation. During his time in Mexico, Donoso wrote literary criticism for Siempre.

After leaving Mexico, Donoso and his wife traveled between the United States and Spain. Donoso taught writing at the University of Iowa in 1965-1966, and the family eventually settled in Spain until returning to Chile in the early 1980's. He spent the remainder of his life writing in Chile until his death on December 7, 1996. His wife followed him in death on February 16, 1997.


7.50 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Correspondence, notebooks and manuscripts of Chilean writer José Donoso. The collection contains a preliminary version of Donoso's first novel, Coronacion, many drafts of El obsceno pajaro de la noche (The Obscene Bird of Night), as well as drafts of stories and other writings.

Method of Acquisition

Purchase and gift from José Donoso in 1966 and 1967.

Related Materials

Donoso (Yanez), Jose. "Jose Donoso (Yanez)," in Contemporary Authors.

"Jose Donoso," in Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 113: Modern Latin-American Fiction Writers, First Series. A Bruccoli Clark Layman Book. Edited by William Luis, Vanderbilt University. The Gale Group, 1992, pp. 134 -- 149.

Classified Index

Index of Correspondents

Donoso's later papers are held by Princeton University Library

Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Iowa Special Collections Repository

Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)