The Huntington Offers New Fellowship to Support Study of Works By Pasadena Author

Published on Aug 19, 2020

Octavia E. Butler sits by her bookcase in 1984. (Credit: The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens/Patti Perret)

The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens announced a new, year-long fellowship to allow a scholar to focus on the extensive works of groundbreaking science fiction novelist and Pasadena native Octavia E. Butler, which are housed as precious treasures at The Huntington.

The $50,000 research grant was created as part of The Huntington’s Centennial Celebration, the institution said in a written statement.

Butler was “the first science fiction writer to receive a MacArthur ‘genius’ Fellowship and the first African American woman to win widespread recognition writing in that genre,” the statement said. “The seed funding for this initial year paves the way for a possible longer-term endowment that would support the fellowship in perpetuity.”

The Huntington’s W.M. Keck Foundation Director of Research Steve Hindle said Butler’s work was highly deserving of study.

“The Huntington is delighted to offer a research grant that will provide support for a scholar who wishes to spend a full academic year working with Butler’s literary archive and reflecting on and writing about its profound implications,” said Hindle. “This initiative is particularly timely because it is designed to promote critical engagement with the published work and personal reflections of a writer who was committed to the reconstruction of the experience of the disenfranchised not only in the real, historical past but also in imaginary pasts and futures.”

Butler published 12 novels and one volume of short works. She won two Hugo Awards and Two Nebula Awards, according to the statement. “Her pioneering work explored themes of identity, community, power, climate, sexuality, and class, as well as race.”

Following her death in 2006 at age 58, The Huntington received her extensive collection of writings, which included drafts, notes, research materials, and correspondences, according to the Huntington.
The collection, which fills 386 boxes, has long been a popular draw at The Huntington.

“In the seven years since it has been open to researchers, Butler’s archive has become the most frequently requested collection in our reading room, testament to intense scholarly interest in the collection,” said Curator of Literary Collections Karla Nielsen.

“Applicants for the fellowship may be working from a variety of disciplinary perspectives on the ideas and issues explored by Butler in her published works, ranging from speculative fiction and Afrofuturism to environmental studies and biotechnology,” according to The Hungtington’s statement.

Information about applying for the Octavia E. Butler Fellowship is available online at

The Huntington is also planning another Centennial Event centered around Butler’s contributions on Aug. 26.

“The President Series: Inspired by Octavia E. Butler” will bring experts together to discuss Butler’s works and impact.

Reservations for the online presentation can be made at

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