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Collection Number: 04379

Collection Title: Vera and Bill Cleaver Papers, 1967-1982

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Size 9.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 650 items)
Abstract Vera Allen Cleaver (1919- ) and Bill (William Joseph) Cleaver (1920-1981) were married in 1945. They collaboratively wrote hundreds of stories for pulp magazines and sixteen novels for children and young adults. Chiefly drafts and some proofs of fourteen of the sixteen novels written collaboratively by Vera and Bill Cleaver and of two novels written by Vera Cleaver alone, along with some correspondence concerning those novels. Also included are materials relating to novels written by Vera Cleaver and a series of general correspondence with publishers about the Cleavers' work and with others about arranging speaking engagements. There is no family or personal material.
Creator Cleaver, Vera.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
Photocopying in Series 1 restricted as follows: no more than three consecutive pages may be copied; no more than ten pages from any one novel may be copied.
Unprocessed pending appraisal decisions, but may be used in accordance with restrictions on other materials in the collection.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Vera and Bill Cleaver Papers #4379, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Vera A. Cleaver, Winter Haven, Florida, in January 1984, January 1985, December 1986, and May 1988.
Received from the estate of Vera A. Cleaver via Charles R. Chilton of Sharit, Bunn, Chilton & Holden of Winter Haven, Fla., in January 1993.
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

Vera Fern Allen Cleaver was born in Virgil, South Dakota, on 6 January 1919, the fifth of nine children. Reared during the Great Depression, she had to interrupt her formal education, which, she has said, she continued in public libraries. She later graduated from a school of business.

William Joseph Cleaver was born on 24 March 1920 in Hugo, Oklahoma. At age five, he was placed in a private school in British Columbia, where he stayed until he was fourteen. His young adulthood was spent in Seattle, Washington, where he attended public schools. From his youth, he was interested in writing; he also educated himself in public libraries. He served in the military during World War II, during which time he met and married Vera Allen. Like his wife, Bill Cleaver graduated from a school of business.

The opportunity to travel widely during the Cleavers' extended military career with the U.S. Air Force figures in their writing.

The Cleavers wrote in collaboration until Bill Cleaver's death in 1981 at age 61. Their routine was to gather ideas and discuss them for several months before establishing the central motif and characters. Vera Cleaver would then do the actual writing. Their themes are realistic, and they are noted for their expert use of dialog and sympathetic probing of human nature.

Early in their writing career, the Cleavers produced over 300 stories for pulp magazines, of which some 279 were published. They also published work in more widely-respected nationally circulated magazines. According to Mr. Cleaver, the couple began to feel that they could use their writing talents toward a more worthwhile end, and turned to writing books for pre-adolescents, adolescents, and young adults.

During their life together, all of their works were cooperative efforts except for the first, The Nurse's Dilemma, written by Vera Cleaver in 1966. As a couple, they wrote sixteen novels, most of which have been well reviewed and widely acclaimed in both the United States and England.

The books written by Bill and Vera Cleaver are as follows:

Ellen Grae (Lippincott, 1967), Horn Book Honor List

Lady Ellen Grae (Lippincott, 1968)

Where the Lilies Bloom (Lippincott, 1969), Horn Book Honor List, National Book Award finalist

Grover (Lippincott, 1970), National Book Award finalist

The Mimosa Tree (Lippincott, 1970)

I Would Rather Be a Turnip (Lippincott, 1971)

The Mock Revolt (Lippincott, 1971)

Delpha Green and Company (Lippincott, 1972)

The Whys and Wherefores of Littabelle Lee (Atheneum, 1973) National Book Award finalist

Me Too (Lippincott, 1973), ALA Notable Book

Dust of the Earth (Lippincott, 1975), Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, Western Writers of America Shelf Award

Trial Valley (Lippincott, 1977)

Queen of Hearts (Lippincott, 1978), National Book Award finalist

A Little Destiny (Lothrop, 1979)

The Kissimmee Kid (Lothrop, 1981)

Hazel Rye (Lippincott, 1982)

After Bill Cleaver's death, Vera Cleaver continued to write, producing Sugar Blue (Lothrop, 1984) and Sweetly Sings the Donkey (Lippincott, 1985).

Vera Cleaver cites the Cleavers' residences as follows:

Seattle and Vancouver, Washington, 1945-1948

Tampa, Florida, 1948-1954

Tachikawa, Japan, 1954-1956

Chaumont, France, 1956-1959

Tampa, Florida, 1959-1964

Carmel Valley, California 1965

Boone, North Carolina, 1965-1969

Lutz, Florida, 1969-1971

Winter Haven, Florida, 1971-

Sources: Children's Literature Review, Vol. 6 (1984), pp 95-96, 114; other brief biographical treatments, copies of which are in the accession file for this collection; and a letter, Vera Cleaver to Carolyn Wallace, 18 June 1985, in the accession file.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

This collection includes drafts and some proofs of fourteen of the sixteen novels written collaboratively by Vera and Bill Cleaver and of two novels written by Vera Cleaver alone, along with some correspondence concerning those novels (Series 1). Also included is a series of general correspondence with publishers about the Cleavers' work and with others about arranging speaking engagements (Series 2).

There is no family or personal correspondence or other personal material.

The following list was received with the materials transmitted from the estate of Vera A. Cleaver. Materials are not necessarily in order as listed.

Rough draft of "Belle Pruitt"

Rough draft of "Moon Lake Road"

Correspondence with publisher on "Angel of Moon Lake Road," "Kitty Dale"

First revision, master set, "Belle Pruitt"

Correspondence between Vera Cleaver and Dorothy Briley, editor-in-chief at Lothrop, Lee and Shepard Books, concerning "Angel of Moon Lake Road"

Corrections to "Angel of Moon Lake Road"

Correspondence with publishers of "Where the Lillies Bloom" and wildcrafting research

Book reviews of "The Kissimee Kid," "Moon Lake Angel," "A Little Destiny," and "Sweetly Sings the Donkey"

Galleys for "Belle Pruitt"

Correspondence relating to study of contemporary beliefs

Uncorrected proofs of "Where the Lillies Bloom"

Master proof of "Moon Lake Angel"

Research material: North Carolina

Research material: Florida

Research material: Missouri

Research material: Arkansas

Research material: South Dakota

Research material: Arts and crafts

Research material: Agriculture

Photographs of central Florida

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Contents list

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Novels, 1966-1982.

About 415 items.

Arrangement: by novel, then by type of item. Note that correspondence pertaining to more than one novel (and to matters other than the novels) is in Series 2.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.1. Ellen Grae, (1967).

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.2. Lady Ellen Grae, (1968).

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.3. Where the Lilies Bloom, (1969).

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.4. Grover, (1970).

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.5. The Mimosa Tree, (1970).

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.6. I Would Rather be a Turnip, (1971).

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.7. The Mock Revolt, (1971).

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.8. Delpha Green and Company.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.9. Me Too, (1973).

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.10. The Whys and Wherefores of Littabelle Lee, (1973).

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.11. Dust of the Earth, (1975).

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.12. Trial Valley, (1977).

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.13. Queen of Hearts, (1978).

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.14. A Little Destiny, (1979).

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.15. The Kissimmee Kid, (1981).

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.16. Hazel Rye, (1982).

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.17. Sugar Blue, (1984).

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.18. Sweetly Sings the Donkey, (1985).

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. General Correspondence, 1968-1982.

About 215 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Correspondence with publishers and with professors of education and librarianship, most of them at institutions in Appalachia; and a few fan letters. There is very little of a personal nature; topics discussed include reviews of the Cleavers' books and the arrangement of speaking engagements.

Folder 130-141

Folder 130

Folder 131

Folder 132

Folder 133

Folder 134

Folder 135

Folder 136

Folder 137

Folder 138

Folder 139

Folder 140

Folder 141

Correspondence, 1968-1982 #04379, Series: "2. General Correspondence, 1968-1982." Folder 130-141

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Addition of January 1993 (Acc. 93006).

Filed in Boxes 7 and 8

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Processing Information

Processed by: Clara Fountain, Barbara Sloane, April 1985, Roslyn Holdzkom, December 1986, June 1988, January 1993

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

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