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James Oliver Rigney, Jr., papers

Identifier: Mss 0197

Collection Overview

The collection consists of the papers of James Oliver Rigney, Jr., from 1905 to 2009. The papers document Rigney's writing career beginning with his first published novel in 1980 through the final book in the Wheel of Time series as well as his unpublished works. The collection includes biographical materials, writings, working files, correspondence, marketing and promotional materials, and audiovisual materials. A small series of biographical materials consists of photographs of book signings, assorted portraits and personal photographs, certificates and awards, and memorial materials from fans as well as published memorials, and other miscellaneous personal materials. A series of writings makes up a significant portion of the collection and consists of complete and partial typescripts with handwritten copyedits, galley proofs, book signatures, and born digital materials pertaining to Rigney's novels circa 1979 to 2009. The majority of Rigney's published works are represented in some form with the exception of Conan the Magnificent, Conan the Destroyer, Winter's Heart, and Towers of Midnight of which there is no material present. Rigney's early-unpublished works are also represented including John One-Eye, Morgan, April the 15th and his first novel Warrior of the Altaii. Of particular interest are Rigney's early notes, name lists, and story outlines that provide insight into his early creative process and development of the Wheel of Time world, its inhabitants, and the overarching storyline for the series. Also included are assorted book-publishing contracts and born digital materials consisting of an Apple 3 computer and numerous 5 1/4 inch floppy discs. Born digital materials are as yet unprocessed.

Another significant portion of the collection is a series of working files consisting of office files and hardcopies of computer files taken from Rigney's home computer. Office files relate to book production, promotion, and publicity for his novels and include clippings, bestseller lists, book tour schedules and itineraries, professional correspondence, promotional materials, interview transcripts, reviews, and cover and map art facsimiles. Hardcopies of computer files taken from Rigney's home computer consist primarily of his notes and lists for the Wheel of Time series and for The World of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time companion book. Materials include descriptions of the various races, countries, and societies of the series as well as character biographies, glossaries, definitions, and numerous lists of flora, fauna, medicines, proverbs, and other subjects related to the series. Scattered throughout is professional correspondence regarding book edits, art placement, and book promotion and production. These files and file materials were grouped as found and, when possible, file titles have also been kept.

The collection also includes a series of correspondence consisting of letters and faxes to and from literary agents and agencies, illustrators, editorial directors, and game developers on such topics as American and European book rights, book production and promotion, illustration edits for The World of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, promotional product designs, European book tour schedules, and speaking invitations. Also included in this series is e-mail correspondence between Rigney and author Ed Gorman regarding their respective illnesses and treatments at the Mayo Clinic and e-mails from Nancy Sliwa regarding the James O. Rigney Jr. dedication and exhibition in the Daniel Library at The Citadel.

A series of marketing and promotional materials primarily relates to the Wheel of Time series but does include a small amount of material relating to his earlier novels. Materials consist of publicity posters, jewelry, illustrations, advertising and packaging design comps, hardcover and trade paperback book covers, and other assorted marketing and promotional materials. Also included are textiles and artifacts consisting of licensed clothing and sword reproductions based on the series produced by Museum Replicas Limited.

A small series of audiovisual material consists of two televised interviews with Tom Schaad for the Arlington Community Television show Fast Forward: Contemporary Science Fiction from 1991 and 1995 and a televised interview from News Channel 8, Washington, DC, from 1994. Topics include his writing career, writing and book tour pressures, how his military experiences and various religious ideas have influenced his work, the success of the series, the popularity of the books on the burgeoning Internet, and the similarities and dissimilarities between Rigney's and Tolkien's writings. The DVD "3 Robert Jordan Interviews, 1990s" contains all interviews contained on the videocassettes.


  • Creation: 1905-2012
  • Creation: Majority of material found within circa 1968-2012


Language of Material

Materials in English, German, and Japanese.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research except for “Contracts, 1980-2019” (Box 65-Box 66), "From the 5 Sisters tale" (Box 56, Folder 10), and selected professional correspondence from "Professional correspondence, 1996-2008, undated" (Box 57, Folder 7) which are closed to researchers except with explicit permission from the donor until September 13, 2037.

Accruals have been minimally processed but are open for research.

Copyright Notice

The nature of the College of Charleston's archival holdings means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. Special Collections claims only physical ownership of most archival materials.

The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. copyright law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

Materials may not be duplicated, photographed, or published without explicit permission from the donor.

Biographical Note

James Oliver Rigney, Jr. (1948-2004) author of the epic fantasy Wheel of Time series of novels written under the pseudonym of Robert Jordan, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, on October 17, 1948, to Eva May and James Oliver Rigney. A decorated Army veteran, he served two tours of Vietnam as a helicopter door gunner from 1968 to 1970. In 1971 he enrolled in South Carolina's military college, The Citadel, as a veteran student and in 1974 graduated with a bachelor's degree in physics. Afterwards he worked as a civilian nuclear engineer for the United States Navy at the Charleston Naval Shipyard. In 1977, while recuperating from a knee injury that led to a near-fatal blood clot, Rigney decided "life was too short" and resolved to become a writer, writing his first novel, the unpublished Warriors of the Altaii, in thirteen days. His second novel, and first published novel, The Fallon Blood, was published in 1980 and was the first of a trilogy of historical novels written under the Reagan O'Neal pseudonym. It was edited and published by his future wife Harriet Popham McDougal for her personal imprint, Popham Press. The couple wed in 1981 and she would continue to be his editor for all but one of his novels. The remaining novels of the trilogy, The Fallon Pride, published in 1981, and The Fallon Legacy, published in 1982, would be published under Tor's Forge imprint. His next novel, Cheyenne Raiders, a western set in the 1830s, was published in 1982 and written under the Jackson O'Reilly pseudonym. In 1982 Tor Books acquired the rights to the Conan the Barbarian book series and Rigney was the first of several writers to contribute new novels to the series. From 1982 to 1984, and writing for the first time under the pseudonym of Robert Jordan, he contributed seven novels to the series, including Conan the Invincible, Conan the Triumphant, and Conan the Destroyer, a novelization of the movie.

In 1984 he began writing The Eye of the World, the first novel in what would become his most well known work, the epic fantasy Wheel of Time series. Also written under the Robert Jordan pseudonym, and originally intended as six volumes, the eventual fourteen volumes would become one of the best selling series in the history of fantasy. Released on January 15, 1990, The Eye of the World was quickly followed by The Great Hunt eleven months later. These first two novels of the series would subsequently be repackaged for young adults with The Eye of the World divided into From the Two Rivers: Part One of The Eye of the World, The Beginning of The Wheel of Time and To the Blight: Part Two of The Eye of The World, The Beginning of The Wheel of Time, in 2002, and The Great Hunt divided into The Hunt Begins: Part One of The Great Hunt, Book Two of the Wheel of Time and New Threads in the Pattern: Part Two of The Great Hunt, Book Two of the Wheel of Time, in 2004. The next four novels were published yearly starting with The Dragon Reborn in 1991, followed by The Shadow Rising in 1992, The Fires of Heaven in 1993, and Lord of Chaos in 1994. A growing fan base and book tour responsibilities necessitated a slower rate of publication for the next five novels beginning with A Crown of Swords, published in 1996, followed by The Path of Daggers in 1998, Winter's Heart in 2000, Crossroads of Twilight in 2003, and Knife of Dreams in 2005.

On March 23, 2006, Rigney posted a message to the Locus Online website announcing that he had been diagnosed with primary amyloidosis with cardiomyapathy, a disorder caused by abnormal protein deposits in the heart wall which cause it to thicken and stiffen. He would die in September of the following year while working on what was planned to be the final volume of the series. Several months after his death it was announced that Brandon Sanderson, himself a fantasy and science fiction author and long time fan of The Wheel of Time series, would step in to complete the final volume relying on the extensive and detailed notes left by Rigney. Far too large to be published in one volume, the final novel was split into three with The Gathering Storm being published in 2009, Towers of Midnight in 2010, and the final novel, A Memory of Light, in 2013.

In addition to the fourteen novels of The Wheel of Time series, Rigney also wrote a prequel, New Spring: The Novel, published in 2004, which was expanded from a novella of the same name originally published in the anthology Legends: Short Novels by the Masters of Modern Fantasy in 1998, and The World of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, published in 1997, a companion guide to the series with Teresa Patterson.


38.75 linear feet (58 document boxes, 8 slim document boxes, 2 flat boxes, 7 oversize boxes, 1 carton, 13 oversize folders, 12 oversize items, 1 DVD, 2 videocassettes, 106 floppy discs, 1 Apple 3 computer)


Papers of James Oliver Rigney, Jr., author of the epic fantasy Wheel of Time series of novels written under the pseudonym of Robert Jordan. Materials document Rigney's career as an author beginning with his early novels The Fallon Blood, The Fallon Pride, The Fallon Legacy, and Cheyenne Raiders, written under the pseudonyms of Reagan O'Neal and Jackson O'Reilly, his Conan the Barbarian novels (also written under the Robert Jordan pseudonym), through the Wheel of Time series, his most well known work. Materials include complete and partial typescripts with handwritten copyedits and annotations, galley proofs, book signatures, unpublished works, born digital files, working files, correspondence, and other materials relating to the writing, production, and promotion of his novels.

Collection Arrangement

  1. Biographical, 1905-2008
  2. Writings, circa 1979-2009
  3. Working files, 1980s-2009
  4. Correspondence, 1984-2011
  5. Marketing and promotional materials, 1980s-2012
  6. Audiovisual materials, 1991-1995
  7. Accession 2022-04, 1977-2007

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Subseries “Born digital files, undated, circa 1980s-1993, undated” contains 5.25” Mac-formatted floppy disks (0197-bd01-0197-bd106) that have not been processed due to current technical limitations. Unprocessed digital materials are not available for researcher use, and so these items are currently restricted.

Acquisitions Information

Materials donated in 2012 and 2022 by Harriet P. McDougal Rigney.

Separated Material

Published books originally with the collection have been removed and cataloged separately.

Processing Information

Processed by Joshua Minor, March 2015.

Inventory of the James Oliver Rigney, Jr. Papers, 1905-2012
Processed by: Joshua Minor; machine-readable finding aid created by: Joshua Minor
Description rules
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Special Collections
College of Charleston Libraries
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Charleston South Carolina 29424
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