The Gonzo collection

The extensive Hunter S. Thompson Collection will soon be publicly available at the UC Santa Cruz library. Thompson’s unique journalistic tradecraft, antiauthoritarian convictions, and affinity for drugs and firearms made him a counterculture icon. Credit: Miranda Powell.

Hunter S. Thompson, counterculture icon with antiauthoritarian convictions and an affinity for drugs and firearms, has found a home at UC Santa Cruz. Thompson pioneered “Gonzo journalism,” an immersive, personal, often irreverent style, and much of his substantial body of work will soon be publicly available at the UCSC library in a newly donated, 800-volume collection.

Ephemeral pieces such as this poster provide insight into how Thompson’s work was received at the time. Credit: Miranda Powell.

The collection was gifted to the university by Eric C. Shoaf, author of Gonzology, a bibliography of Thompson’s works. Shoaf spent 30 years compiling the collection’s eclectic assortment of materials, which includes first editions, translations, posters, event fliers, and original-format periodicals. Its breadth makes the collection a valuable resource for literary research, including tracking Thompson’s cultural impact, said Teresa Mora, head of the library’s special collections and archives.

“Thompson worked with the Denver public library and a local brewery to publish a unique short story on a beer bottle as a fundraiser for the library,” said Teresa Mora, head of special collections and archives. “It’s a very nice tie-in with his life—literature and alcohol.” Credit: Miranda Powell.

“Nuances between translations are important for understanding a work’s significance and getting at the author’s original intent,” she said, “and the ephemeral materials provide insight into how Thompson’s works were received at the time.”

The Thompson Collection complements the library’s Grateful Dead Archive. “We have an unofficial counterculture area, and Thompson fits very neatly with that,” Mora said.

“There’s an exquisitely printed little pamphlet of the eulogy Thompson wrote for Timothy Leary,” Mora said. Inside, there’s a sheet of blotter paper cut into stamps with Leary’s head on each. “It’s not dosed, but it conveys Leary’s impact in a unique way.”

—Sascha Zubryd