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Remembering Science Fiction Author Frank Herbert: Highlighting His Archives In the Pollak Library

Posted in Academic Communities, Academic Disciplines, Arts & Humanities, Faculty, General News, Library Collections, Library Research, Staff & Administrators, University Archives, and Visiting the Library

Highly popular science fiction author Frank Herbert passed away twenty-eight years ago this month. Herbert is best know for the Dune Saga (also called the Dune Chronicles). His flagship novel Dune is considered by many critics to be the best science fiction novel ever written.

Members of the Cal State Fullerton community, as well a members of the general public, may not know Herbert’s connection to the Pollak Library. Since the last 1960s, we have been home to his manuscripts and working papers, formally known as the Frank Herbert Archives (PDF).

Willis E. McNelly, former Cal State Fullerton Professor of English and Comparative Literature and editor of The Dune Encyclopedia (1984) spearheaded the effort to acquire the Herbert papers for Cal State Fullerton. He recounts his efforts in Very special collections: essays on library holdings at California State University, Fullerton.

McNelly first met Frank Herbert in 1967, during which time Dune (1965) was already extremely popular. At this meeting, Herbert asked McNelly if he would like the Dune manuscripts. Within a few months McNelley had acquired for Cal State Fullerton “the complete original manuscript of Dune and a carbon copy of his typescript of the then unpublished “Dune II,” later called Dune Messiah (1969)” as well as a trunk full of manuscripts.

The Frank Herbert Archives
Poster art, Dune vinyl (music by David Matthews), and The Dune Atlas (produced by a student of Willis McNelly).

This trunk full of manuscripts included such literary treasures as the second, third, and fourth drafts of Dune, all marked up by Herbert. We also have all the setting copies, galley proofs, and page proofs, as well as a file of rejection letters from publishers. Herbert’s shorter fiction and nonfiction writings are included in the archive as well. A full description of the archive is available on our finding aid (PDF).

A fun Dune trivia item that McNelley points out is that Herbert’s notes indicate he initially planned for Liet-Kynes to be the hero, but later decided on Paul Atreides.

The Frank Herbert Archives
Collection of books in Special Collections written by Frank Herbert.

Interested in researching or viewing the Frank Herbert Archives? Visit our University Archives & Special Collections. Interested in reading Dune, or other Herbert works? Peruse our online catalog for a list of all Frank Herbert books and media holdings owned by the Pollak Library.

Stephanie George, Archivist for the Center for Oral and Public History, contributed the photos and captions to this article.


Vogeler, A. R., & Hansen, A. A. (Eds.). (1992). Very special collections: essays on library holdings at California State University, Fullerton. Fullerton: Patrons of the Library.