Celebrating the Holidays with Arthur C. Clarke

Posted on Thu, December 31, 2020
  • by: George Tyler Crock, Archives Division
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As I have been scanning the correspondence that science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke received over his lifetime, a constant staple of correspondence always crops up near the end of a year. These being the abundant number of Christmas cards Clarke would get around the holidays. Most of these would be from people that Clarke had regular contact throughout the years like Wernher von Braun to governmental officials like the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. Outside of the usual holiday correspondence that Clarke received, he would sometimes get Christmas cards from the most surprising of places. One example being a card he got from Lucasfilm (Lucasfilm Ltd. LLC) in 1981. The front of the card depicts Yoda dressed as Santa Claus.

No matter the source of the cards that were sent to Arthur C. Clarke, they all wished him a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year.

Please enjoy a selection of holiday cards sent to Clarke below.

White Card - Text: "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Wernher and Maria Von Braun" with signature

Holiday card sent to Arthur C. Clarke, December 1969. “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Wernher and Maria Von Braun.” NASM.2015.0010-bx006-fd005_046

White card, preprinted text "Maple Hill and Esther Goddard send warmest greetings of the Season" personal handwritten text to Arthur C. Clarke

Holiday card from Esther Goddard (widow of Robert H. Goddard) to Arthur C. Clarke, 1972. Preprinted text “Maple Hill and Esther Goddard send warmest greetings of the Season." Handwritten note: "Many thanks for your card with the lovely pictures of the Ceylon beach. I’m delighted you are going to speak at the RHG Memorial Dinner in Washington in March.” NASM.2015.0010-bx009-fd002_079

Photo postcard. Left: beach with palm trees. Right graphic drawings of Santa Claus over preprinted text: "Merry Christmas" Handwritten signature. Preprinted text: "Arthur Clarke"

Christmas card from Arthur C. Clarke, 1971, featuring a beach scene (presumably Ceylon) and Santa Claus. NASM.2015.0010-bx008-fd002_071

(left) Man with brown hair and glasses, wearing a tan jacket, stands at a railing. Background is an observatory with white buildings on a hill. (right) preprinted message "Happy Holidays" with drawing of horses and sleight. Handwritten note.

Holiday card from Todd Hawley, chairman and co-founder of national organiation SEDS-USA (Students for the Exploration and Development of Space). Photo of Hawley posing at a railing in front of Kitts Peak Observatory, Arizona. "To ‘Uncle Arthur’ + all: Happy Holidays Best wishes for 1985! Todd Hawley ‘84” NASM.2015.0010-bx035-fd003_052

  • Left side text in Sinhala, Tamil, English. Right side: drawing Birth of the Universe  foreground three people in front of a blue house with yellow deer to the left fish in water behind green tree with 4 branches, 2 birds, 4 fruit--sun clouds behind tree

    Cover of Holiday Card from Ranasinghe Premadasa, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, to Arthur C. Clarke, 1985. Depicts "Birth of the Universe." Text in Sinhala, Tamil, and English.NASM.2015.0010-bx035-fd004_021

  • Drawing at the top, text in Sinhala, Tamil and English Greetings for the New Year Poem on right

    Holiday Card from Ranasinghe Premadasa, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, to Arthur C. Clarke, 1985. Text is in three languages--Sinhala,Tamil and English. "Greetings for the New Year!" and the signatures of Premadasa and his wife. On the right, a verse from the Bodhicharyavatara: "May the rain fall in time/May the harvest be rich/May the world be prosperous/May the rules be righteous!" NASM.2015.0010-bx035-fd004_022

  • foreground: close up of Viking lander with American flag and 1976 bicentennial symbol (white five-point star inside a stylized star of red, white and blue). Background: red rocky ground of Mars

    Cover of Holiday Card from NASA International Affairs Division to Arthur C. Clarke, 1976. Internal caption: "A portion of the Viking I lander depicting the U.S. flag and the official symbol of the American Bicentennial is shown against a picture of the Martian surface and sky taken on July 24, 1976. Facing southeast, orange red surface materials cover most of the surface, apparently forming a thin veneer over darker bedrock. A zone of large dark boulders is present in the far field. The sky has a reddish cast, which is probably due to scattering and reflection from reddish sediment suspended in the lower atmosphere." NASM.2015.0010-bx016-fd006_082

  • Left side, preprinted caption in red. Right side: preprinted message in red cursive font Season’s Greetings and Best Wishes for the New Year. Arnold Frutkin signature in red, Dick Barnes signature in black. NASA logo in red.

    Inside of holiday card from NASA International Affairs Division, 1976. “Season’s Greetings and Best Wishes for the New Year,” signed by Arnold Frutkin and Dick [Richard] Barnes. NASM.2015.0010-bx016-fd006_083


George Tyler Crock is a contract archivist with the National Air and Space Museum Archives. He is currently digitizing the Arthur C. Clarke Collection of Sri Lanka. He has also digitized the Sally K. Ride Papers and the Herbert Stephen Desind Collection.

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