The seventh season of the award-winning HBO series Game of Thrones debuts this Sunday, July 16 at 8 p.m. CST, but how are the happenings in Westeros tied to Aggieland? Texas A&M University plays an important role in preserving the work of George R.R. Martin, the creator of the A Song of Ice and Fire book series that was adapted for television. Here are five things you need to know about that special connection:
1. Martin’s relationship with Texas A&M predates Game of Thrones
Martin began spending time at Texas A&M in the 1970’s to visit AggieCon, an annual science fiction and fantasy festival and convention. The convention began in 1969 and has grown into one of the largest gatherings of its kind in the United States. As Martin’s writing career took off, his interest in Texas A&M, especially its libraries, grew.
2. Texas A&M’s Cushing Memorial Library and Archives is Martin’s official repository
Martin said he was impressed with not only the sci-fi and fantasy collection at Cushing while on his AggieCon visits, but the way Library facilities archived materials. In 1993, after two decades as a prolific science fiction writer, but three years before A Game of Thrones was published, Martin chose Cushing Library’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Research Collection to deposit his personal collection of letters, books and manuscripts.
“It is very well taken care of and has a good archival system,” Martin said of Cushing in a 2013 Texas A&M Today interview. “Later when I was drowning in papers here, I thought of putting it all on deposit in a library somewhere. I remembered Texas A&M and the great facilities you have there.”
Martin published the first installment of the A Song of Ice and Fire series in 1996, but international acclaim for the series began in 2011 when the HBO series debuted. The library also became a repository for some of Martin’s memorabilia for the show, where manuscripts with personal notes and memorabilia like swords were put on display in a special library exhibit in 2013.
3. Martin donated the University Libraries’ 5 millionth volume
Two months before season five of Game of Thrones went to air, Martin donated a special edition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit to mark a major milestone in the University Libraries’ collection in February 2015. The donation featured a ceremony in front of a full audience at Rudder Auditorium, where he discussed the significance of the gift and science fiction’s place in literature.
“There’s no doubt his effect upon me was profound and I take a strange pleasure in seeing him included in a library like this, to be a 5 millionth book with Cervantes and Walt Whitman,” Martin said of Tolkien. “It represents an acceptance of fantasy into the canon of world literature which I think is long overdue, frankly.”
4. Martin has an honorary doctorate from Texas A&M
After giving Texas A&M libraries national attention, the university awarded him an honorary degree in 2016. However, Martin said he will not return to campus to accept his degree until the sixth book, The Winds of Winter, is finished.
“We understand Mr. Martin is particularly sensitive to his time commitments and writing efforts,” University Libraries Dean David Carlson said in 2016. “We will be happy to host his return to campus when his schedule allows.”
5. Game of Thrones materials and memorabilia are available to the public
Nearly 50,000 pieces contained in approximately 300 boxes are in Martin’s collection at Cushing and most of them are available for public view. To view the collection, visit the library’s finding aid online to select materials for library staff to pull from the archives for viewing in the Kelsey Reading Room. Nearly anything from Game of Thrones swords, correspondence between publishers and showrunners, board games, more than 1,300 copies of books in various translations and even lunchboxes can be pulled for view. Jeremy Brett, curator of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Research Collection, said Texas A&M’s preservation of Martin’s collection will be crucial as the field of academic study around the book and television series grows.
“We collect this material because we believe science fiction and fantasy are important genres. They’re important aspects for scholarly study,” Brett said. “Martin is a particularly important figure in American fantasy. It’s hard to study a figure unless you have their primary documents, so it’s important to have those things preserved to be able to study Martin in total.”
Media contact: Sam Peshek, 979-845-4680, firstname.lastname@example.org
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