Donated by Clyde Robert Bulla.
The rural environment that Bulla matured in put a premium on physical labor and imposed isolation on the young boy, yet this only impelled Bulla to exercise his imagination more often as he interpreted his world. To feed his imagination and relieve the monotony of farm life, Bulla turned to music quite early, and he conceived a special passion for opera; its stories of exotic places, costumes, and people intrigued him.
Bulla's desire to write grew as he did. At age seven he had begun writing stories, though he told his family little about his efforts. As a young boy, he entered an essay contest and won a one-dollar prize. This tangible success made him feel like a writer, he later said. After one year at the King City High School (1926-1927) he dropped out and finished his degree by correspondence. In the meantime, he read popular magazines voraciously and patterned his own stories after his reading.
Between 1927 and 1946 he continued working on the family farm and writing. In 1934 he made his first sale---a love story to a women's magazine. Then he joined a group of other writers throughout the country who read and critiqued each other's manuscripts. Through this circle of contemporaries Bulla met Emma Thibodaux, an elementary school teacher and published children's author who proved important to Bulla's career. In 1941, Bulla published These Bright Young Dreams and felt some degree of success, but his publisher declared bankruptcy before Bulla ever saw any royalties.
When World War Two erupted, Bulla volunteered for service but failed the physical exam. Then his mother became ill and the family moved back to King City where he worked as a linotype operator for the Tri-County News. On weekends he wrote short stories and spoke to Thibodaux, who encouraged him to write children's books. He finally agreed and wrote about the adventures a brother and sister had with a donkey and a cart on their farm. After some initial rejections, Thibodaux showed his work to author Lois Lenski, who passed it on to Elizabeth Riley of T. Y. Crowell. Riley published the manuscript as The Donkey Cart (1946) with illustrations by Lenski. Although he was proud of Donkey Cart, Bulla continued to think of himself as an adult author. To his astonishment, Riley asked him when he would send another manuscript. Riding the Pony Express followed, and Bulla embarked on his career as a children's author.
A year after his parents' death, Bulla moved to a suburb of Los Angeles. He began writing two books a year for Crowell in a working relationship with Riley, with whom he worked until her retirement. Bulla traveled widely during this time, visiting the American West, Britain, Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, China, Australia, Japan, and Indonesia. From these travels came the inspiration for many books, including Eagle Feather, The Sword in the Tree, Mika's Apple Tree, and New Boy in Dublin.
In all this, Bulla continued a practice that typifies all his work. He spent a great deal of time preparing to write a story. To identify with his characters, Bulla carefully researched the people, time, place and cultural background of his protagonist. In doing so, he acquired a vivid, concrete picture of the setting in which the character lived and conveyed those mental images in words.
Bulla also maintained his longstanding interest in music and even collaborated on songs for children with Lois Lenski. Among some of his more ambitious works are those that converted stage operas into simple narratives for children as a way to introduce them to the standard operas: Stories of Favorite Operas, Stories of Wagner's Niebelung Operas, and Stories of Gilbert and Sullivan Operas.
Bulla's admirers generally laud his simple style and his ability to marry poetic sense to his prose. As a poet might, Bulla selects words and images that convey both feeling and meaning. For instance, about a house Bulla wrote "No one lived there now. The windows were broken, and weeds grew in the yard." Whatever his critics say, Bulla remains popular among children, and we can safely say that they are his most important critics.
Since 1981 Bulla has traveled less, but continues to write prolifically. He also maintains close contacts with other children's authors in Southern California.
The correspondence contained herein includes Bulla's communications with Mrs. deGrummond, most of which concerns his donations to the archive. One letter dated October 9, 1968, reveals titillating aspects of Bulla's private life: the disorganized state of his materials, the pace of his work during 1968, and plans for "a small book about Ireland" which became New Boy in Dublin (1969). In another letter (April 25, 1967), Bulla reveals that he regrets not being able to donate any of his early manuscripts to the deGrummond Collection; unaware that they might be valuable to someone, Bulla had destroyed them. All seven letters were written between 1966 and 1969 and are photocopies of the originals (which are kept in the Correspondence files of the deGrummond archive and includes a few not in the regular collection of Bulla's papers).
In The Ghost of Windy Hill (1968), the Carver's house-sit for a Bostonian gentleman who is concerned that his country home might be haunted. During their summer stay, Jamie and Lorna (the Carver children) befriend a beggar boy who everyone believes cannot walk. Imagine the Carver's surprise to find the boy can not only walk, but also appears to be their ghost. Folders 1/2 through 1/8 include edited manuscripts, a galley, and photostatic proofs.
Mika's Apple Tree (1968) concerns a young Finnish schoolboy who feels disturbed that of his classmates he alone cannot decide what he wishes to become when he grows up. Bulla resolves the boy's dilemma through an old woman's gift. Folders 1/9 and 1/10 contain the edited manuscript for Mika's Apple Tree and the edited galley.
In New Boy in Dublin (1969), Bulla recounts the experiences of a young pageboy employed in a Dublin hotel and of his desire to buy a gold wedding ring for his mother. He wanted to replace the one she lost while working on their farm in the country. At the story's close, Bulla's protagonist gives his savings to a new co-worker in order to save the young boy's job. Both New Boy in Dublin and Mika's Apple Tree reflect Bulla's writing process at work. His love for travel took Bulla all over the world, and he converted his experiences into stories with some additional research into the customs and culture of his protagonists. New Boygrew out of a conversation Bulla shared with a former pageboy whom he met on vacation in Ireland. For New Boy, the collection includes edited manuscripts, galleys and photostatic proofs.
Bulla received the George G. Stone Center for Children Book Award in 1968 for White Bird. In this story, the orphan John Thomas learns that the world is not so unkind as his guardian Luke insists. Although John Thomas runs away from home, he eventually returns when he realizes that Luke sought only to protect him from the world's harshness. This item includes an edited and typeset manuscript and galley proofs.
More Stories of Favorite Operas (1965) serves as the companion volume to Stories of Favorite Operas (1959) in which Bulla gave twenty-three libretti a simple narrative form. The twenty-two new tales in More Stories are preceded by a paragraph of background and closes with a cast of characters. Bulla used these narrative stories as a way of introducing opera--something of a passion for him--to young children. Included herein are an edited manuscript for twenty-two chapters plus biographical notes, an index, and one discarded story. There is also an author's copy of the galley proof that bears the typesetter's notations.
Finally, Bulla collaborated on music scores with another children's author, Lois Lenski. These include several short songs apparently written for Lenski to use in regional plays for children. On the back of one song sheet ("The Jaybird Song," folder 3/4) is a short prose sketch by Bulla entitled "Mary's Mirror." None of these scores the mark of an editor, but they demonstrate how varied were Bulla's interests and talents.
A. Correspondence (1966-1968)1/1 Photocopies of letters from Bulla to Mrs. Lena Y. deGrummond between 1966 and 1968, most concern donations made to the deGrummond Collection, one letter from his publisher, 7 items.
B. BooksTHE GHOST OF WINDY HILL by Clyde Robert Bulla, illustrated by Don Bolognese (New York: T. Y. Crowell, 1968). 1/2-1/ Manuscript, edited by typesetter (blue pencil) and copy editor (red pencil), 1/2 Chapters 1-6, 37 pages; 1/3 Chapters 7-14, 45 pages; 1/4 Galley, chapters 1-14 bearing editor and copy editor's corrections, 1/5-1/8 Photostatic proofs, 1/5 Chapters 1-6, 22 pages, no markings; 1/6 Chapters 7-14, 26 pages, no markings; 1/7 Master set, chapters 1-6, 20 pages, bears editor and typesetter's marks; 1/8 Master set, chapters 7-14, 31 pages. MIKA'S APPLE TREE; A STORY OF FINLAND by Clyde Robert Bulla, illustrated by Des Asmussen (New York: T. Y. Crowell, 1968). 1/9 Manuscript, edited by copy editor and typesetter, 24 pages, 1/10 Galley, edited master set, 9 sheets. NEW BOY IN DUBLIN; A STORY OF IRELAND by Clyde Robert Bulla, illustrated by Jo Polseno (New York: T. Y. Crowell, 1969). 1/11 Manuscript, edited for typesetter, 26 pages, 1/12-1/13 Galleys, 1/12 Master, edited for typesetter, 9 sheets; 1/13 Master, printer's proofs, 33 pages with notations directing placement of artwork; 1/14 Photostatic proofs, 33 pages with notations directing placement of artwork. WHITE BIRD by Clyde Robert Bulla, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard (New York: T. Y. Crowell, 1966). 1/15-1/17 Manuscript, edited by typesetter and copy editor, 1/15 Chapters 1-6, 29 pages; 1/16 Chapters 7-12, 25 pages; 1/17 Chapters 13-14, 17 pages including title page, table of contents, copyright information, and artists' biographies; 1/18-1/19 Galley proofs, 1/18 Reader's first proof, chapters 1-14, 22 sheets plus table of contents and list of author's other works, copy bears author's changes and typesetter's marks; 1/19 Marked set, edited by typesetter. MORE STORIES OF FAVORITE OPERAS by Clyde Robert Bulla, illustrated by Joseph Low (New York: T. Y. Crowell, 1965). 2/1-2/10 Manuscript, edited by typesetter and copy editor, 2/1 Chapters 1-2, 38 pages including title page, introduction, table of contents and dedication; 2/2 Chapters 3-4, 32 pages; 2/3 Chapters 5-6, 31 pages; 2/4 Chapters 7-8, 30 pages; 2/5 Chapters 9-10, 33 pages; 2/6 Chapters 11-12, 28 pages; 2/7 Chapters 13-15, 42 pages; 2/8 Chapters 16-18, 33 pages; 2/9 Chapter 19-21, 39 pages; 2/10 Chapter 22 plus cast of characters, biographical notes about composers, index and one discarded story, 64 pages; 2/11 Galley, author's copy, edited with typesetter's notes, 103 sheets. MUSIC SCORES, words by Lois Lenski, music by Clyde Robert Bulla. 3/1-3/6 Original scores, handwritten music by Bulla, 3/1 Shine, Mister Shine! That Pretty Little Tree, Song of the City Children We Are Thy Children 3/2 If I had a Red Dress, 2 copies Mister Noah Spring Is Here Today My Puppy A New Dress A Face 3/3 Sleeping in a Strange Land Up on the Roof The Clothes Line Poor Baby Sick Song for Susu (words & music, Bulla) 3/4 Strangers in a Strange Land Evening Prayer A Cry for Help Lullaby (1st version) Bean Picker's Song God's Never Far Away On the Go Again, Song of the Migrant Children The Cotton Boll Fight Farewell Song The Jaybird Song, short prose sketch (reverse) 3/5 Do Unto Others, photocopy May I Speak Peace, photocopy Rooster Song Lonesome Song Saturday Night On a Summer Day Cotton in My Sack, original and photocopy 3/6 Farewell Song, Song of the Colored Children On the Go Again, 2 copies Take a Trip Neighbors Listen to the Tall Corn Grow The Garden Song Our Back Yard, 2 copies I Was a Stranger, 2 copies A Little Dog, for Lenski's Davy and his Dog
Biographical Sketch| Scope & Content|
Related Collections| Series & Subseries|
[Return to top]
The de Grummond Children's Literature Collection
The University of Southern Mississippi
118 College Drive, #5148
Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001
Comments and Questions
This page is maintained by the de Grummond
The University of Southern Mississippi