Edward E. Marsh spent 30 years and millions of dollars assembling one of the largest and most significant collections of science fiction on the planet.
And now he is gifting much of it to San Diego State University’s Love Library.
The gift, valued at more than $2.25 million, will eventually be displayed in the “Edward Marsh Golden Age of Science Fiction Room,” created specifically to house these works. It will take several months to catalogue the collection before it will be available to the public.
“This is an incredibly significant collection, not just to science fiction fans, but to students and researchers in the fields of science, technology, politics, religion, philosophy, journalism, even theatre and film,” said Gale Etschmaier, dean of the library. “This is just a phenomenal gift for researchers.”
Most of the books in the collection are signed first editions and include ephemera such as press clippings, notes and autographs.
Science fiction authors featured in the collection include:
- Arthur C. Clarke
- Robert Heinlein
- Ray Bradbury
- Isaac Asimov
- Frank Herbert
- L. Sprague de Camp
- Kevin Anderson
- Jules Verne
- H.G. Wells
- Edgar Rice Burroughs
Marsh is particularly fascinated by L. Ron Hubbard, who got his start writing pulp fiction in the 1930s and 40s. Marsh collected his work as well as the works of those who influenced Hubbard and who were influenced by him.
The collection also includes works by authors Ernest Hemingway, Albert Einstein, George Orwell, Will Durant, Winston Churchill, Ian Fleming, William Burroughs and several U.S. presidents.
“This is a great gift of intellectual and literary content,” said Rob Ray, director of Special Collections. “The true gift Ed Marsh has given is his love and devotion to science fiction’s ‘golden age,’ represented by his collection and the endless potential for research into ideas yet to be discovered, to be talked about and understood.”
Supporting the Campaign
With his gift, Marsh joins the more than 40,000 individuals who have contributed $380 million toward the $500 million Campaign for SDSU. The campaign, which began in 2007, will provide the resources to continue SDSU's mission to attract and retain top faculty, support research and innovation and provide more scholarships for students.
“I have a very warm spot in my heart for this university,” said Marsh, who attended SDSU for two semesters in 1969. “There was nothing I wanted more than to make sure this collection made it here and that it would continue to be shown to the public and be maintained in perpetuity.”
More than just books, the collection also includes autographed photos, busts of authors, movie props, original artwork for book covers, literary contracts, portraits, and authors’ yearbooks.
“I hope there are more science fiction writers that come of it,” Marsh said of donating his collection to SDSU. “We need brilliant minds to be stimulated by the old brilliant minds and to come up with new ideas because science fiction points to the future … it heralds the future of what can be.”
Marsh was born in San Francisco in 1951 and grew up in San Diego. He attended SDSU as a freshman before pursuing a career, first with the Church of Scientology, and then in the mortgage and real estate industries.
It wasn’t until 2000 that he started the Marsh Library out of his home in Escondido, where he worked to “honor and forward the works of the men of the golden age.”
“This collection is a treasure trove in which there is a new "wow" piece at every turn,” Etschmaier said.
Give to the Library Special Collections