Andrew Ferguson, an English doctoral student in the University of Virginia’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, took third place in the National Collegiate Book-Collecting Contest for his entry, “The Bibliography & Puzzle of R.A. Lafferty.”
Ferguson advanced to the national contest after his entry won the top prize in the Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia’s 49th Book Collecting Contest this spring.
He first discovered Lafferty’s work after reading a blog post by best-selling author Neil Gaiman, also a Lafferty fan.
“I read a few things, and eventually it clicked that I would have to read everything that he’d ever written,” Ferguson said. “Only later would I realize how complicated that would prove to be.”
Because much of Lafferty’s work is out of print, Ferguson spent years tracking it down, beginning while he worked as a bookseller. His interest in the author led him to a graduate program at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma, where Lafferty’s papers are kept. Ferguson’s current doctoral work at U.Va. also deals with Lafferty, and he’s been in contact with the Locus Foundation, which owns the rights to much of the author’s work.
“We hope in the next couple of years to start reissuing his books,” Ferguson said. “Hopefully they will be nice new editions of these books so people won’t have to go hunting things down the way I’ve had to.”
Ferguson also hopes to edit a collection of critical essays about Lafferty.
The Center for the Book and the Rare Book and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress, the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America and the Fellowship of American Bibliographic Societies sponsor the National Collegiate Book-Collecting Contest, with support from the Jay I. Kislak Foundation.
The winners will receive their awards Oct. 19 during a ceremony at the Library of Congress.
First prize goes to Jordan Haug at the University of California at San Diego for the book collection project, “Mormon Fundamentalism & Polygamy,” and the second prize goes to Jessica Anne Kahan at the University of Michigan for “Romance Novels in DJ, 1925-1935.” The prizes will be awarded both to the students and to the libraries of their respective institutions. Ferguson will collect $500 and an additional $250 for the University Library.