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Fuentes, Carlos
Carlos Fuentes Papers
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1830s-2012 (mostly 1950-2012)
381 boxes and 60 items
Storage Note:
  • This is stored in multiple locations.
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Boxes 1-134; 136-351; 354-376; 379-380; P-000135; P-000136; P-000137; B-001719
  • Firestone Library (scahsvm): Box 381-382


The Carlos Fuentes Papers consists of personal and working papers of Fuentes (1928-2012), Mexican author, editor, and diplomat, including notebooks, manuscripts of novels and novellas, short stories, plays, screenplays, nonfiction writings, speeches and interviews, translations of fiction and nonfiction, correspondence, juvenilia, drawings, documents, photographs, audiocassettes, videocassettes, papers of others, scrapbooks, clippings, and printed material.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of personal and working papers of Carlos Fuentes, Mexican author, editor, and diplomat: notebooks, manuscripts of novels and novellas, short stories, plays, screenplays, nonfiction writings, speeches and interviews, translations of fiction and nonfiction, correspondence, juvenilia, drawings, documents, photographs, audiocassettes, papers of others, scrapbooks, and printed material. Included are manuscripts and some galleys and page proofs with holograph corrections of the novels La cabeza de la hidra, Cambio de piel, La campaña, Constancia y otras novelas para vírgenes, Cristóbal Nonato, Una familia lejana, Gringo viejo, La muerte de Artemio Cruz, El naranjo, o los círculos del tiempo, La región más transparente, and Terra Nostra; draft manuscripts and some galleys and page proofs for the English translations of the novels listed above, and for novels Aura, Diana, The Goddess Who Hunts Alone, The Years with Laura Diaz, and Inez. There are also drafts of short stories collected under the titles Agua quemada, Cantar de ciegos, Chac Mool y otros cuentos, Cuerpos y ofrendas and Los días enmascarados; drafts of plays Todos los gatos son pardos, El tuerto es rey and Orchids in the Moonlight (English and Spanish versions); drafts of program scripts for the television series The Buried Mirror, and Spanish language version El espejo enterrado; and drafts of the companion books to the TV series.

The collection also includes drafts of screenplays written by Fuentes, or in collaboration with others, such as "Children of Sanchez," "Juarez," and a film about Luis Buñuel; and many manuscripts of screenplays written by others, several of which are adaptations of Fuentes' books, such as "Aura" by Serge Sandor, "Birthdays" by Guillermo Cabrera Infante, and "Old Gringo" by Luis Valdez. The Nonfiction and Speeches and Interviews subseries are extensive and include a wide variety of journalism written for major newspapers and magazines in the U.S., Mexico, and Spain and for other publications. Speechs include Fuentes' Harvard University commencement address, and his acceptance speech for the Premio Cervantes [literary prize] delivered in 1983 and 1988, respectively.

The papers also include correspondence with translators and drafts of many translations of Fuentes' writings. Included are typescript drafts, galleys, and page proofs of translations by Margaret Sayers Peden of several of Fuentes' novels, including Terra Nostra. Correspondence between Peden and Fuentes spans the period 1971-1990; correspondence with Céline Zins, primary translator of Fuentes' writings into French, is also extensive and spans 1970 to 1992.

The Correspondence series covers the period 1944-1994, and includes letters from family members and a wide range of publishers, literary agents, artists, filmmakers, and politicians.

There are letters received and letters sent by Fuentes to Latin American writers, including Alfonso Reyes, Miguel Angel Asturias, and Juan Carlos Onetti, and to writers of the "Boom" in Latin American fiction, such as Cabrera Infante, José Donoso, Gabriel García Márquez, Julio Cortázar, and Mario Vargas Llosa. Some of the Mexican writers represented in the collection are Octavio Paz, José Emilio Pacheco, Elena Garro, Elena Poniatowska, Fernando Benítez, Ramón Xirau, María Luisa Mendoza, and Carlos Monsiváis.

There is also extensive correspondence with international writers Harold Pinter, Milan Kundera, Vasiles Vasilikos, Italo Calvino, Régis Debray, Philip Roth, Norman Mailer, and William Styron, among others, and with filmmakers and film producers, including Luis Buñuel, Joseph Losey, Manuel Barbachano Ponce, and Tomás Gutiérrez Alea. The series also includes correspondence with literary agents and publishers that documents the financial and public success of Fuentes' career. Some of the publishers and literary agents represented are Brandt & Brandt, Carmen Balcells/Agencia Literaria, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Fondo de CulturaEconómica, and Editorials Joaquín Mortiz and Seix Barral. Publishing executives include Carlos Barral, Joaquín Díez-Canedo, Claude Gallimard, José Luis Martínez, Arnaldo Orfila Reynal, and Roger W. Straus, Jr. Correspondence with Farrar, Straus & Giroux covers the period 1963-1993 and includes contracts and other publishing documents. There is also a large amount of correspondence with students and readers, covering the period 1962-1994.

The collection also includes juvenile writings and drawings from the 1940s and early 1950s, and other miscellaneous cartoons and drawings. There are photographs of Carlos Fuentes and others, miscellaneous documents, and audiocassettes and videcassettes of the author's readings speeches, and other presentations.

The Papers of Others series includes manuscripts by a wide variety of Latin American and American writers, including a one-act play by Octavio Paz and short stories by Juan Rulfo and Julio Cortázar; copies of several doctoral dissertations and other theses on Carlos Fuentes; and a typescript draft and page proofs of a book edited by Cintio Vitier, Antología de la poesía hispanoamericana contemporánea (1925-1955).

There is a large amount of printed material both by the author and about the author in the Scrapbooks, Clippings, and Printed Material series. There are clippings and articles in many languages and from publications around the world. Articles include essays, book reviews, interviews, and bibliographies of the author's work. There are 27 scrapbooks, compiled by the author, which contain clippings, memorabilia, and photographs. The series also includes Christmas cards, invitations, maps, menus, and lecture and conference programs.

The Additonal Papers are comprised of notebooks; page proofs; drafts of writings by Fuentes, including novels, articles, essays, reviews, and speeches; English translations of works by Fuentes; videocassettes and audiocassettes; drawings; subject files relating to academic and cultural institutions, publishers, editors, colleagues, other writers, artists, cultural and political figures, friends, and others; speeches and talks given at conferences, convocations, awards ceremonies, lectures, and symposia; printed materials, including event invitations, programs, posters, book covers, publication proofs, photographs, published speeches, press kits, and essays by and about Fuentes; a large number of newspapers and press clippings containing articles by and about Fuentes, including reviews of his works; a few digital files; and other materials. Also included are 14 letters from Carlos Fuentes to Carolyn Pfeiffer written between 1969 and 1971, covering topics of film, including Fuentes' collaboration with Luis Buñuel, theater, literature, and personal matters.

Collection Creator Biography:

Carlos Fuentes was born in Panama City, Panama, on November 11, 1928, the son of Berta Macías Rivas and Rafael Fuentes Boettiger. At the time of his birth, Carlos Fuentes' father was serving as Mexico's ambassador to Panama. Growing up with a father who was a career diplomat, Carlos Fuentes lived and was educated in many cities in Latin America. During the years, 1934-1939, he lived in Washington, D.C. where his father served as first secretary of Mexico's foreign service delegation to the U.S. He attended primary and secondary schools in Washington, D.C., Mexico City, Mexico, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Santiago, Chile, and pursued postsecondary studies in Mexico City and Geneva, Switzerland. He received his bachelor's degree from Colegio México and his law degree from the law school of Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), both in Mexico City. Fuentes pursued graduate study at the Institut de Hautes Études Internationales in Geneva in 1950-1951, and also served in the Mexican delegation of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Geneva, in 1951.

In 1953, Fuentes won First Prize in an essay contest sponsored by the law school of UNAM, on the occasion of its Fourth Centenary. In the same year, he collaborated with other young Mexican writers, such as Marco Antonio Montes de Oca, José Emilio Pacheco, and Carlos Monsiváis in publishing the magazine Medio Siglo in Mexico City. In 1955, he collaborated with Jaime García Terrés in editing the publication Universidad de México; and throughout the 1950s, Fuentes wrote articles on literature, film, and politics which were published in a wide variety of newspapers and magazines. In 1956, he co-founded and edited the journal Revista Mexicana de Literatura with Mexican writer Emmanuel Carballo. He worked in several positions in the Secretary of Foreign Relations of the Mexican government during the 1950s.

In 1958, Fuentes' first novel, La región más transparente, was published by Fondo de Cultura Económica in Mexico. The first English translation of this novel was published in 1960. In 1962, Carlos Fuentes became an outspoken opponent of American foreign policy in Latin America, when he was invited by Richard N. Goodwin, U.S. assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs, to participate in a debate on the Alliance for Progress program. Despite the invitation by Goodwin, he was denied a visa by the U.S. government because of his political views. Two years later, in 1964, the Attorney General granted a temporary waiver of his immigration status, and he was able to enter the U.S. Througout the '60s and '70s, Fuentes worked with lawyers to combat his U.S. immigration classification as "undesirable." In particular, he worked with lawyer William D. Rogers, Jr., of the firm Arnold & Porter, and by the 1980s, he had far less trouble obtaining a visa.

In 1962, Fuentes' novels La muerte de Artemio Cruz and Aura were published in Mexico. The first English translations of these novels were published as The Death of Artemio Cruz (translated by Sam Hileman) and Aura (translated by Lysander Kemp) by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 1964 and 1965, respectively.

In 1965, Fuentes served as Mexico's ambassador to Italy, and he lived in Rome. He moved to Paris in 1966, and befriended artists and writers such as the painters Alberto Gironella, Pierre Alechinsky, and Valerio Adami, and novelist Julio Cortázar. In 1968, Fuentes traveled to Prague with writers Cortázar and Gabriel García Márquez to aid the writers and artists of Czechoslovakia, and he met Milan Kundera for the first time. Fuentes' plays Todos los gatos son pardos and El tuerto es rey were first published in 1970, and in the same year El tuerto es rey was produced at the Theater an der Wien of Vienna and the Festival of Avignon (France).

Fuentes's nonfiction essays and articles of the 1960s and early 1970s were published in two anthologies, Casa con dos puertas (1970) and Tiempo mexicano (1971). In 1972, Fuentes was elected to permanent membership in El Colegio Nacional, México. In 1974, Fuentes held a visiting fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.During the period 1971-1974, Fuentes began writing the novel Terra Nostra, and he wrote the essay Cervantes o la crítica de la lectura as an outgrowth of his research for the novel. Terra Nostra was first published in Mexico in 1975, and the English translation by Margaret Sayers Peden, was published under the same title by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 1976.

Carlos Fuentes served as Mexico's ambassador to France from 1975 to 1977. In 1977, he began a series of teaching and creative writing posts at American universities. He taught at Barnard College, Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania, and in the fall of 1979, at Princeton. He taught at Dartmouth College in 1980-1981 and at Harvard University from 1983 to 1985. In 1986-1987, he held the Simón Bolivar Chair at Cambridge University (England), and in the fall of 1987 he returned to Harvard to inaugurate the Robert F. Kennedy Professorship in Latin American Studies, which he held until July 1988.

In 1985, Fuentes' novel Gringo Viejo and the English translation (by Margaret Sayers Peden and the author) were published. The movie Old Gringo which is based on the novel, was produced by Jane Fonda, filmed in 1988, and released in 1989.

Fuentes moved to London, England in 1990 to collaborate with Malone Gill Productions in the making of the television series The Buried Mirror and the Spanish language version El espejo enterrado. Fuentes served as both principal writer and onscreen host of five television programs which explore the history of Spain and Latin America in light of the quincentenary of Christopher Columbus's landing on the island of San Salvador in 1492.

Some of Fuentes' writings in English were published in Myself with Others: Selected Essays in 1988; other literary essays are compiled in Geografía de la novela (1990) and Valiente Mundo Nuevo: Épica, utopía y mito en la novela hispanoamericana (1993). In recent years, he has published several books of fiction, a revised version of the play Todos los gatos son pardos (published as Ceremonias del alba), and the nonfiction work, Nuevo tiempo mexicano (1995).

Throughout his career, Carlos Fuentes has received many literary prizes, including the following: Biblioteca Breve Prize from Editorial Seix Barral (Barcelona, 1967) for Cambio de piel, Premio Internacional de Novela "Rómulo Gallegos" (Caracas, 1977), Premio Internacional "Alfonso Reyes" (Mexico, 1979), Premio Nacional de Lingüística y Literatura (Mexico, 1984), Premio Miguel de Cervantes (Spain, 1987), and Premio Internacional Menéndez Pelayo (Spain, 1992). He has received honorary doctorates from Harvard, Georgetown, UCLA, and Washington University of St. Louis, Mo., and from many colleges, including Dartmouth and Bard, and Cambridge and Essex Universities in England.

From 1957 to 1969, Carlos Fuentes was married to Rita Macedo, a Mexican film actress. In 1973, he married Sylvia Lemus, a television and newspaper journalist. From his first marriage, he has a daughter, Cecilia (b. 1962), and with Sylvia Fuentes de Lemus he has two children, Rafael (b. 1973) and Natasha (b. 1974). He died on May 15, 2012 in Mexico City, Mexico.

Collection History


Carlos Fuentes initially deposited some of his papers in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections during the period 1978-1981 , when he lived in Princeton. The Library purchased the collection through an agreement made with Brandt & Brandt in 1995. Several hundred published books by Fuentes, initially part of the papers, are separately catalogued and housed in the Rare Books Division of the Department. Production matter for the English translations of Fuentes' novels and nonfiction, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux as Christopher Unborn, The Campaign, Constancia and Other Stories for Virgins, The Death of Artemio Cruz (rev. ed.), The Orange Tree, Diana, The Goddess Who Hunts Alone, The Years with Laura Diaz, and A New Time for Mexico were given to the Library by the publisher.

Additional Papers purchased from Silvia Lemus and her literary agent Brandt & Hochberg in 2013 (AM 2013-112). Letters from Carlos Fuentes to Carolyn Pfeiffer purchased from Glenn Horowitz Bookseller in 2021 (AM 2022-045).

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Claire A. Johnston in 1998. Finding aid written by Claire A. Johnston in 1998.

Finding aid updated with new materials by Armando Suárez, with the assistance of Alice Griffin and Alia M. Wood, in December 2019. Letters from Carlos Fuentes to Carolyn Pfeiffer processed and added to finding aid by Armando Suárez in October 2021.

The born-digital materials in this collection have been processed according to Princeton University Library's Born-Digital Processing Workflows. For more information on the workflow, please read our full Born-Digital Processing Information Note.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

This collection contains digital files in the following formats: Microsoft Word and WordPerfect. Refer to our Tips on Accessing Born-Digital Content for information on how to render these file formats.

Access to digital material in this collection is available on-site in the Special Collections Firestone Reading Room. For more information please contact Special Collections Public Services staff.

Credit this material:

Carlos Fuentes Papers; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • This is stored in multiple locations.
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Boxes 1-134; 136-351; 354-376; 379-380; P-000135; P-000136; P-000137; B-001719
  • Firestone Library (scahsvm): Box 381-382

Find More


The biographical sketch is based partly on information obtained in Retrato de Carlos Fuentes (Madrid: Círculo de Lectores, 1995).

Subject Terms:
Ambassadors -- Mexico -- 20th century -- Manuscripts.
Critics -- Mexico -- 20th century -- Correspondence.
Diplomats -- Mexico -- 20th century -- Correspondence.
Dramatists, Mexican -- 20th century -- Manuscripts.
Latin American fiction -- 20th century.
Latin American literature -- 20th century.
Mexican drama -- 20th century.
Mexican essays -- 20th century.
Mexican fiction -- 20th century.
Mexican literature -- 20th century -- Translations into English.
Mexican literature -- 20th century.
Novelists, Latin American -- 20th century.
Novelists, Mexican -- 20th century.
Spanish American literature -- 20th century.
Spanish American poetry -- 20th century.
Translators -- France -- 20th century -- Correspondence.
Translators -- United States -- 20th century -- Corresondence.
Genre Terms:
Newspaper clippings.
Photographs, Original.
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Brandt & Brandt
Asturias, Miguel Ángel
Barbachano-Ponce, Manuel
Benítez, Fernando, 1912-2000
Buñuel, Luis, 1900-1983.
Cabrera Infante, G. (Guillermo), 1929-2005
Calvino, Italo
Cortázar, Julio
Debray, Régis
Donoso, José, 1924-1996.
García Márquez, Gabriel (1927-2014)
Kundera, Milan
Losey, Joseph
Mendoza, María Luisa
Monsiváis, Carlos, 1938-2010
Pacheco, José Emilio
Peden, Margaret Sayers.
Pinter, Harold, 1930-2008.
Poniatowska, Elena
Reyes, Alfonso, 1889-1959.
Styron, William, 1925-2006.
Vargas Llosa, Mario (1936)
Latin America -- Politics and government -- 20th century.
Mexico -- Intellectual life -- 20th century.
Mexico -- Politics and government -- 1946-1970.
Mexico -- Politics and government -- 1970-1988.