The Zemblarchive is intended to be an electronic resource for scholars and students in search of original Nabokov materials held in collections around the world. Additions and corrections to the Zemblarchive are encouraged. Please send relevant information to Jeff Edmunds.


Vladimir Nabokov Papers, Library of Congress

Nabokov began donating various papers and manuscripts to the Library of Congress in 1958. The resulting sizable collection promises to be a treasure-trove for future generations of Nabokovians.

The official policy on access to the collection, per Alice Lotvin Birney, American Literature Manuscript Historian at the Library of Congress, is as follows:

"Dmitri Nabokov still controls access to those Vladimir Nabokov Papers in the Library of Congress donated by the author. According to the terms of the Instrument of Gift signed by Vladimir Nabokov May 30, 1959, and by the Librarian of Congress June 23, 1959, the author or his wife or son has control of both access and copyright for fifty years, i.e. until June 23, 2009. At that point, the collection will be open and the as yet unpublished Nabokov writings in it will be in the public domain. Presently, Dmitri responds separately to each detailed application for access submitted through the Manuscript Division. Those items acquired from persons other than the author, located at the end of the collection, have no access restrictions."

Highlights of the Vladimir Nabokov Papers in the Library of Congress:
Complete (or very nearly complete) manuscripts of Nabokov's Russian novels Mashen'ka (Mary), Otchayanie (Despair), Priglashenie na kazn' (Invitation to a Beheading), and Podvig (The Exploit, Glory).

Manuscripts and typescripts of many of Nabokov's short stories, both Russian and English, including "Britva" (The Razor), "Vesna v Fial'te" (Spring in Fialta), "Ozera, oblako, bashnya" (Cloud, Castle, Lake), "The Vane Sisters," and "That in Aleppo Once...."

Extensive materials relating to Dar (The Gift), Nabokov's last Russian novel, including the manuscript of chapter 1, the printed pages of the Sovremennye zapiski version corrected by VN and used as setting copy, the typescript of chapter 4 with ms. corrections, an exercise book containing unpublished drafts and notes for a continuation of Dar including the so-called "Rusalka" continuation. (For more information on the Dar materials, see Jane Grayson, "Washington's Gift: Materials Pertaining to Nabokov's Gift in the Library of Congress," Nabokov Studies 1 (1994), pp. 21-67.)

The typescript of a projected sixteenth chapter of Conclusive Evidence (disguised as a review of the book).

The typescripts and manuscripts of many poems, both Russian and English.

Manuscript notes for Lolita on 94 index cards.

The manuscript of Pale Fire on 1029 index cards.

And much, much more...

For more information on the collection, contact Alice Birney (

The Vladimir Nabokov Archive, Berg Collection, New York Public Library

In 1991 the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library acquired the Vladimir Nabokov archive. The materials in this collection, organized and maintained by Nabokov and his wife during their years at the Montreux Palace Hotel in Switzerland, occupy approximately 140 linear feet of shelf space, 40 feet of which is devoted to books and magazines from Nabokov's Montreux library. The collection is being cataloged by Steven Crook, who is available to answer questions about the contents of the Archive at The curator of the Berg Collection is Rodney Phillips (

Highlights of the Vladimir Nabokov Archive:
Approximately half the Archive consists of extensive correspondence both to and from Nabokov. Correspondents include Sylvia Berkman, Morris Bishop, Jason Epstein, Anna Feigin, Franz Hellens, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, James Laughlin, Elena Nabokov, Sergei Nabokov, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Sonia Slonim, Bertrand and Lisbeth Thompson, Peter Ustinov, and Edmund Wilson.

Early notebooks and poetry albums, including hundred of poems written between 1916 and 1931, the majority of which remain unpublished.

Two sheets (four pages) torn from an exercise book, with Nabokov's mother's transcription of a fragment from her son's diary: his account of the night his father was assassinated.

A huge file for Strong Opinions, including typescripts, letters, clippings, mimeographs of interviews, articles, and questionaires.

A box of index-card manuscript notes for the projected sequel to Speak, Memory, tentatively titled Speak On, Memory.

First-draft index-card manuscripts of Ada, Transparent Things, and Look at the Harlequins!.

Nabokov's copy of the 1935 London edition of Camera Obscura with extensive annotations on almost every page, including a list of alternate titles ("The Colored Ghost," "Blindman's Buff," "The Dark Picture") and a pastiche by VN of a 1937 poem by Marina Tsvetaeva on the rear endpaper.

The heavily revised holograph manuscript of Nabokov's Russian translation of Lolita, in twelve spiral-bound composition books.

Manuscript drafts, notes, copies, proofs, clippings, and correspondence relating to Nabokov's annotated English translation of Pushkin's Eugene Onegin.

Files of lecture notes for Nabokov's literature classes at Wellesley and Cornell, and Nabokov's teaching copies, with marginal annotations, of works by Jane Austen, Anton Chekhov, Charles Dickens, Gustave Flaubert, Franz Kafka, Marcel Proust, Leo Tolstoy, and others.

A complete set of Nabokov's published papers on Lepidoptera, some with autograph corrections, as well as thousands of pages of manuscript and drawings of the wing patterns and genitalia of butterflies.

Nabokov's nearly 200 pages of corrections to Andrew Field's biography, Nabokov: His Life in Part.

The information here has been excerpted from:

Goldwasser, James. "The Vladimir Nabokov Archive in the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library: An Overview," in Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook, 1991, (Detroit, Mich.: Gale Research Co.), pp. 186-190.
Boyd, Brian. "The Nabokov Biography and the Nabokov Archive," in Biblion (New York: New York Public Library), vol. 1, no. 1, 1992, pp. 15-36.

Bakhmeteff Archive, Columbia University

The Nabokov Family Papers (1882-1950) in the Bakhmeteff Archive consist of correspondence, documents, and a photograph of members of the Nabokov family. Included are 6 letters, a photograph, and 4 school documents of Dmitrii Dmitrievich Nabokov; birth, school, and marriage documents of his daughter, Sofia Dmitrievna Nabokova (Fasolt); letters to his brother Konstantin Dmitrievich Nabokov, 1 each from Sergei Witte and Viscount Alfred Milner (photocopies); an autographed letter (1885) from Tsar Alexander III to Dmitrii Nikolaevich Nabokov (1827-1904), father of Dmitrii Dm. and Konstantin Dm., asking for his resignation as Imperial Minister of Justice; and copies of an 1895 letter by Tsar Nicholas II to Dmitrii N. Nabokov.

Letters from Vladimir and Véra Nabokov are included elsewhere in the Archive, in collections devoted to their sundry correspondents: Mark Aldanov, Mstislav Valerianovich Dobuzhinskii, Alexis Goldweiser, Roman Grynberg, Abram Saulovich Kagan, George Vernadsky, Avrahm Yarmolinsky, Vladimir Feofilovich Zeeler, and Vladimir Mikhailovich Zenzinov.

The Curator of the Bakhmeteff Archive is Ellen Scaruffi.

The information here has been excerpted by from:

Russia in the Twentieth Century: the Catalog of the Bakhmeteff Archive of Russian and East European History and Culture, the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University (Boston: G.K. Hall & Co., 1987).

Beinecke Library, Yale University

The Edmund Wilson-Vladimir Nabokov correspondence is in the manuscripts collection of the Beinecke Rare Books Library at Yale University. Items which may be of interest to Nabokov scholars include:

A two-page note on English iambics sent to Wilson by Nabokov--possibly a handout from the latter's Spring 1950 course at Cornell.

Nabokov's annotations to his poem "To Prince Kachurin" (1947), which he translated specially for Wilson (three-and-a-half-page typescript).

Approximately thirty letters from Nabokov to Wilson that do not appear in the English edition of The Nabokov-Wilson Letters (New York: Harpers, 1980), plus several wires and postcards.

Wilson's personal notes on Nabokov's works.

Numerous documents relating to the epic Eugene Onegin affair.

Other collections in the Beinecke which contain Nabokoviana (that has been catalogued) are in the following collected papers:

A letter to Herman W. Liebert dated 5/30/93 from Montreux.

A xerox of the Ada typescript (881 leaves).

Mark Weinbaum Papers (Gen. MSS 106) (correspondence with Vladimir and Véra Nabokov 1949-1972)

George Ivask Papers (Gen. MSS 93) (correspondence with the Nabokovs 1952-1958)

Louise Morgan and Otto Theis Papers (correspondence from Nabokov ca. 1940s)

Irina Odoevtseva Papers (Gen. MSS 101) (extensive correspondence with Georgii Adamovich and Boris Zaitsev, many references to Nabokov in the letters during his "Sirin" stage)

Charles Henri Ford Papers (YCAL MSS 32) (letter from Nabokov dated March 1946)

For more information on the Wilson Papers, see:

Barabtarlo, Gennady. "Nabokov in the Wilson Archive," in Cycnos, vol. 10, no. 1, 1993, (Nabokov: Autobiography, Biography, and Fiction), pp. 27-32.

Vladimir Nabokov Papers, Washington University Libraries (St. Louis, MO)

In addition to very extensive holdings of Nabokov's fiction, including translations of his work into many languages, Washington University Libraries owns a collection of letters from Véra Nabokov to Peter Russell concerning Nabokov's books and translations. The letters date from March 12, 1958-June 7, 1959. Also in the collection are the typescript of an interview with Nabokov by Jane Howard for Life Magazine (August 1964) and a clipping of the final published article, "The Master of Versatility."

In the letters to Russell, Mrs. Nabokov expresses her husband's opinions on translations and points out that he no longer believes in rhymed translations but in literalness alone. In one letter she adds the comment that her husband believes Pound to be an exceptionally poor translator.

The Acting Head and Curator of the Modern Literature Collection is Kevin Ray (

Amherst Center for Russian Culture

There are several items of possible interest in the Schakovskoy Family Papers at the Amherst Center for Russian Culture. These include an autograph poem by Nabokov, a letter from Véra Nabokov to Zinaida Schakovskoy, several letters from Nabokov's sister Elena Sikorskaia to Z. Schakovskoy, and several letters from Natalia Nabokova to her sister. The Center also owns several folders with correspondence, clippings and reviews of Zinaida Schakovskoy's book V poiskakh Nabokova. Some of the materials in the collection do not appear in the book and so might be of particular interest to Nabokov scholars.

The Center's WWW site is accessible at:

Rare Books Room, Pattee Library, Pennsylvania State University

The Rare Books Room at Penn State holds two items of interest. The first is a first edition of Nabokov's second novel, Korol', dama, valet (King, Queen, Knave, 1928), inscribed by the author. The second is a first edition of the novel Podvig (Glory, 1932), which seems to have been Nabokov's own copy, for it bears on the cover, in a hand resembling Nabokov's, the author's name transliterated into Roman characters as well as the notation "Nestor Str. 22, c/o Feigin"--Nabokov's address during part of his time in Berlin.

Korol', dama, valet inscriptionPodvig inscription

Vladimir Nabokov Collection
University of California at Santa Barbara

The first three series in the collection were donated anonymously in 1987. They are:

Writings-Monographs. Arranged alphabetically, by title. Includes corrected typescript drafts, galley and page proofs, along with some related correspondence, for Pale Fire (Russian translation), Perepisksa s sestroi, and Pnin.

Correspondence, 1966-1986. Incoming/Outgoing, arranged chronologically. Mainly with Carl R. and Ellendea Proffer (ARDIS). A few typescript signed letters by Vladimir, but most by Vera and, later, also by their son Dmitri. Some later letters also with Ronald Meyer (ARDIS).

Nabokoviana, ca. 1966-1980. Mostly relating to Carl Proffer's work with Nabokov, including correspondence, articles, consultant's report, blank memoranda of agreement between ARDIS and Nabokov, and b/w photo of Nabokov.

The fourth series, donated by Donald B. Johnson in 1991, contains:

Additions. Issues of magazines, journals, and newspapers, containing articles by Nabokov, ca. 1978-1987.

A guide to the Collection is available online.

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