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Collection Number: 04516

Collection Title: Richard M. McKenna Papers, 1962

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the section for more information.


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Size 1.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 12 items)
Abstract Richard M. McKenna (1913-1964) received an A.B. from the University of North Carolina in 1956. "The Sand Pebbles," his only completed novel, was published in 1962. Holograph drafts and carbon copies of typed drafts of "The Sand Pebbles" (1962), a novel by McKenna, and a few other items.
Creator McKenna, Richard M.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
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 Richard M. McKenna papers #4516, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Mrs. Richard M. McKenna of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in November 1987 (Acc. 88054) and William Powell of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in May 1989 (Acc. 89029).
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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Richard M. McKenna was born in Mountain Home, Idaho, in 1913. Seeking wider opportunities than could be realized in an area gripped in the early throes of the Great Depression, McKenna joined the Navy at age 18. He served in the Navy for the next 22 years, including 10 years of active sea duty, chiefly in the Far East. He participated in World War II and the Korean Conflict.

Having retired from the Navy in 1950, he began his undergraduate education at the University of North Carolina, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1956 with a B.A. in English literature. In the same year, he married Eva Mae Grice, a librarian at the University.

McKenna tried his hand at short story writing, achieving a moderate amount of success publishing his work in science fiction magazines. Success on a grander scale was imminent, however. In 1962, Harper & Brothers published The Sand Pebbles, a novel about men aboard a United States gunboat patrolling the coast of China in the 1920s. The book draws heavily on McKenna's own later experiences, and the author was often cited as the model for the book's protagonist. The Sand Pebbles was both popular and profitable, winning the $10,000 Harper Prize Novel contest and being chosen as a Book-of-the-Month Club selection.

The Sand Pebbles was McKenna's only novel. Still not quite adjusted to his new fame and fortune, McKenna suffered a heart attack and died in 1964. In 1966, The Sand Pebbles was made into a motion picture.

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Holograph and carbon copies of typed drafts of The Sand Pebbles. "Ride A Paper Tiger" and "The Paper Tigers" appear to have been working titles for The Sand Pebbles, although these titles may also have been used for other, shorter publications.

These papers remain largely in the order in which they were received. All drafts are undated.

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Contents list

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Folder 1

McKenna's Term Report, dated Spring 1955, from the University of North Carolina. #04516, Series: "Richard M. McKenna Papers, 1962." Folder 1

Carbon copies of two letters with revised text attached from McKenna to M. S. Wyeth, Jr., at Harper & Brothers, 2 and 7 May 1962. #04516, Series: "Richard M. McKenna Papers, 1962." Folder 1

Folder 2

Holograph draft marked "The Paper Tigers, Part 1." #04516, Series: "Richard M. McKenna Papers, 1962." Folder 2

Folder 3

Holograph draft marked "The Paper Tigers, Part 2." #04516, Series: "Richard M. McKenna Papers, 1962." Folder 3

Folder 4

Carbon copy of typed draft marked "Ride A Paper Tiger," chapters 1-6. #04516, Series: "Richard M. McKenna Papers, 1962." Folder 4

Folder 5

Carbon copy of typed draft marked "Ride A Paper Tiger, Version II," chapters 1-12. #04516, Series: "Richard M. McKenna Papers, 1962." Folder 5

Folder 6

Carbon copy of typed draft marked "The Paper Tigers, Part 1," chapters 1-9. #04516, Series: "Richard M. McKenna Papers, 1962." Folder 6

Folder 7

Carbon copy of typed draft marked "The Paper Tigers, Part 2," including 3 drafts of the "Synopsis of Part II" and 1 draft marked "Chapter 1." #04516, Series: "Richard M. McKenna Papers, 1962." Folder 7

Folder 8

Carbon copy of typed draft marked "The Sand Pebbles": Chapters 9-15 #04516, Series: "Richard M. McKenna Papers, 1962." Folder 8

Folder 9

Carbon copy of typed draft marked "The Sand Pebbles": Chapters 16-20 #04516, Series: "Richard M. McKenna Papers, 1962." Folder 9

Folder 10

Carbon copy of typed draft marked "The Sand Pebbles": Chapters 21-27 #04516, Series: "Richard M. McKenna Papers, 1962." Folder 10

Folder 11

Carbon copy of typed draft marked "The Sand Pebbles": Chapters 28-38 #04516, Series: "Richard M. McKenna Papers, 1962." Folder 11

Folder 12

Carbon copy of typed draft marked "The Sand Pebbles": Chapters 39-45 #04516, Series: "Richard M. McKenna Papers, 1962." Folder 12

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Processing Information

Processed by: Roslyn Holdzkom, July 1988

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

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