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Important book collection gifted to education

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Important book collection gifted to education

The Virginia Edition, a newly published collection of books by one of the world’s most significant science fiction authors, Robert Heinlein, has been gifted to the Department of Education and Children by a trust set up in his name.

The 46 leather-bound volumes, printed on archival-quality paper, include all of Heinlein’s fiction and non-fiction plus 450,000 words of unpublished correspondence. Just 2,000 sets have been produced.

Art Dula, Heinlein’s literary executor and trustee, has presented a set to the Isle of Man College of Further and Higher Education’s library. The books will be a ‘wonderful resource for students’, said David Anderson MHK, Minister for Education and Children, who received them along with Ronald Barr, Principal at the College.

One of seven children, Heinlein was born and raised in Missouri before enrolling at the US Naval Academy. He distinguished himself academically and served for five years before being discharged for health reasons. He pursued a career in politics and ran for the California State Assembly before finding his way into writing.

Through his novels, Heinlein explored the promise and peril of scientific change with the world – and was so successful that a third of NASA employees working on the Viking Project said the books had inspired them to take up careers in the space industry.

Heinlein died in 1988 at the age of 80. The publication of the Virginia Edition has been overseen by the Robert A. and Virginia Heinlein Prize Trust, in cooperation with the Robert A. and Virginia Heinlein Library Foundation, and is named after the author’s wife of 40 years, ‘best friend and severest critic’, who died in 2003.

The New York Times Book Review called Heinlein ‘one of the most influential writers in American literature’. Stephen King described him as ‘not only America’s premier writer of speculative fiction, but the greatest writer of such fiction in the world’.

Mr Dula – who is Chief Executive Officer of Island-based private spaceflight company Excalibur Almaz Ltd – said Heinlein was ‘not just a great science-fiction author or a great American author but a great author’.

He added:

‘His books are available in more languages and there are more movie options on his work than there were while he was alive and I believe that speaks to the enduring quality of his work. ‘This collection is one of the largest and most significant publishing events in the last century. By making Heinlein’s work available to the world, and by sharing it with students in the Isle of Man, which is at the forefront of the space industry, I believe we have made a big step in satisfying the trust placed in us by – and acknowledging the debt we owe to – Robert and Virginia.’

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Photo: David Anderson (left), Minister for Education and Children, and Professor Ronald Barr, Principal, leaf through the books at the Isle of Man College of Further and Higher Education’s library

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