The University of Oregon is in negotiations with the Kesey family over the literary works of Ken Kesey, author of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Sometimes a Great Notion.” For over 20 years, Kesey’s collection has been stored at the university’s library that started as Ken Kesey sent his works to the library for safe keeping.
The literary collection is now up for sale by the family and they have given the U of O the first chance at purchasing it.
Price for the works will be at least $1 million. The appraisal price is $2.9 million. Various donors have come forward with thousands to purchase the collection and keep it at the university where Kesey attended school.
Members of the Grateful Dead and Kesey’s Merry Pranksters have given larger amounts to ensure the collection stays in Eugene.
The market is currently high for literary collections, especially those from the 50’s and 60’s that surround the counterculture during the highest point of unrest in the country. Stanford would like to finish off their collection with Kesey’s writings.
In 2008, Santa Cruz fought over the Grateful Dead papers with the University of Berkley right on their heels. In 2001, the New York Public Library grabbed the works of Jack Kerouac, excluding the manuscript of “On the Road,” which cost them a cool $2.4 million at a private auction.
Stanford spent a large chunk of change ($1 million) on poet Allen Ginsberg’s literary collection in the mid 90’s. The famous poet had no real connection to the school.
Because Ken Kesey thought of Eugene as home, his family opted to give the university first choice at the 109 boxes containing Kesey’s works. The collection contains personal papers, correspondence, manuscripts that are typewritten and handwritten, journals, artwork and photographs of the late artist.
Kesey’s widow, Faye, stated:
This is where Ken considered home. This is where he went to school. Most of his writing is about Oregon, so I think this is the proper place for it.