Andrew Ferguson, first place winner in the 49th Student Book Collecting Contest sponsored by the Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia last spring, has been named third prize winner in the National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest for his entry, “The Bibliographic Puzzle of R. A. Lafferty.” Ferguson, a Ph.D. student in English in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, will be honored at an awards ceremony at the Library of Congress on October 19. His prize includes $500 and a $250 gift to the Bibliographical Society at the University of Virginia. The national contest is sponsored by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA), Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies (FABS), the Center for the Book, and the Rare Books and Special Collections Division (the Library of Congress), with major support from the Jay I. Kislak Foundation.
R. A. Lafferty (1914–2002), an amazingly prolific writer of science fiction, created over 36 novels and 260 short stories. Ferguson began by aiming to collect a copy of every novel and short story but soon expanded to trying to acquire a copy of every edition of his works as well as materials about Lafferty or related to him in some way. His interest led him to pursue a Masters degree in English at the University of Tulsa, home of Lafferty’s manuscript material. Much of Lafferty’s work has never been published, and Ferguson’s goal is to collaborate with the Locus Foundation in publishing critical texts of all Lafferty’s works.
“In his stories and essays, Lafferty often writes of the importance of collaborative effort — something I’ve been reminded of every time I step onto Grounds at UVA,” Ferguson says. “Learning from David Vander Meulen and all the folks at BSUVA, the Rare Book School, and the Scholars’ Lab has been a tremendous experience, and will shape all the work I do in the future both as a scholar and as a collector.” As he continues expanding his collection and using it to create critical editions of Lafferty’s work, Ferguson hopes to help “restore the reputation of a great, underappreciated master of American literature.”