Bancroft Library takes in William Saroyan gift

UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library has received a gift of hundreds of books, drawings, correspondence and other personal communications to and from one of America’s best-known writers, the Armenian-American author and playwright William Saroyan.

The collection was assembled by Saroyan’s niece, Jacqueline Kazarian, who is also the founder of William Saroyan Literary Foundation International.

“UC Berkeley is such an incredible place of learning and growing and intellectual exploration,” said Kazarian, who earned degrees in communication and decorative arts at UC Berkeley in the early 1950s. “I know that my uncle wanted his library, manuscripts and galleys to go to Berkeley. Students will be inspired by the collection.”

Kazarian’s donation is in honor of Berkeley antiquarian book dealer Peter Howard, owner of Serendipity Books, who has provided appraisal assistance to Bancroft on Saroyan materials and other collections for many years.

The Bancroft Library already retains significant holdings of Saroyan’s work. Most of the latest materials come from Saroyan’s home on San Francisco’s 15th Avenue, now a Saroyan museum directed by Kazarian.

Read the full story over at UC Berkeley News.

Illustrations: (left to right) a sketch “from a Turkish admirer”; a photo of William Saroyan in his youth; and a drawing of Saroyan with a passage of his writing on Armenia. (Images courtesy of the Bancroft Library.)

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside. Email: tracey@citysidejournalism.org.