The Harry Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin, has opened the papers of British novelist Nicolas Freeling (1927-2003) for research. Freeling received numerous international awards for his writing, including the Grand Prix de Roman Policier (1964, France), the Edgar Allan Poe Award (1966, United States) and the Crime Writers’ Association Golden Daggar (1964, Britain).
Freeling’s papers consist of more than 30 document boxes of manuscript drafts, correspondence, journals, clippings, contracts and royalty statements. Materials for most of Freeling’s mystery novels and nonfiction, from 1964 through 2001, are included. Also present are Freeling’s materials for other works, including essays, plays and television scripts. The journals contain notes and working draft fragments for some of Freeling’s novels, including “Gadget” (1977).
Freeling’s writing career began in 1959 when he was arrested for stealing food from the kitchen of an Amsterdam hotel. During Freeling’s four weeks of incarceration, he became fascinated with a particular Dutch police officer and began writing a detective story on the wrappers of soap he was charged with packaging.
Freeling’s first novel “Love in Amsterdam” (1962) introduced readers to Dutch Police Inspector Piet Van der Valk and his wife, Arlette. The successful Van der Valk mysteries led to international best-selling novels and two British television series based on the character.
Other famous detective characters, such as French police commissaire Henri Castang, appeared in Freeling’s more than 40 novels. In addition to his fiction, Freeling wrote four nonfiction works, ranging from “The Kitchen Book” (1970), about his career in hotel kitchens, to “Criminal Convictions” (1994), a book of essays about literature’s best crime writers.
“I am sure Nicolas Freeling’s archive will be of appeal to those interested in the history of detective fiction and his highly recognized but mostly forgotten role in the development of crime literature,” said Hugo Freeling, son of the author. “I especially hope that the perceptive European and humanistic relevance of his work will be a major focus of interest and research.”
Freeling’s papers reside alongside other collections of mystery and detective fiction at the Ransom Center, including the papers of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Erle Stanley Gardner, Dashiell Hammett, Anna Katharine Green Rohlfs and Emma, Baroness von Orczy.
The Ransom Center acquired Freeling’s papers in 2010.
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