Not long after he was hired to lead the Ransom Center, Dr. Staley that the records of Stuart Gilbert, Joyce’s translator and friend, were available. According to The New Yorker, the papers, which cost the Ransom Center $265,000, came up with an unexpected find: Joyce’s handwritten adaptations of the first chapter of “Finnegans Wake.” dr. Staley estimated those pages alone were worth $750,000.
In the 25 years that followed, he acquired the papers of dozens of literary celebrities, including Doris Lessing, Jorge Luis Borges, JM Coetzee, Penelope Lively, and Isaac Bashevis Singer, as well as the archives of Robert De Niro and Life magazine’s photojournalist David. Douglas Duncan. dr. Staley also continued to teach English.
When Dr. Staley visited the playwright Tom Stoppard at his home in England, he found his papers scattered in his study and in another building on his property. Like dr. Staley recalled to The Times, Mr Stoppard told him, “What you want is usually stuff I’d throw away: notes on this and that.” But there were also drafts of his plays, notes on revisions and drawings of stage sets.
On another trip, to Arthur Miller’s home in Connecticut, Dr. Staley discovered in a box Miller thought was filled with roofing nails, valuable notebooks, and a short story—just the kind of items that help fill an archive. While portions of Miller’s archives had been held at the Ransom Center for decades, a formal deal was not signed until 2017 to acquire the collection for $2.7 million.
In addition to his son Tim, Dr. Staley survived by his wife, Carolyn (O’Brien) Staley, known as Muffi; his daughters, Carrie Staley and Mary Wheeler; another son, Tom Jr.; and six grandchildren.
dr. Staley’s aggressive and successful search for the newspapers of so many literary stars led him to suspect that he had led the Ransom Center to victories in a state that likes to think big.
“People are very proud of winners here,” he told The New Yorker. “She Like it good luck.”