Although the bulk of his manuscripts, books, half a century's worth of diaries and personal effects were acquired by the Harry Ransom Center, a humanities research facility at the University of Texas at Austin in 1991, the desk and its contents formed part of additional material supplied by his widow in 2008.
On 31 March this year, which would have been Fowles' 85th birthday, the items were put on display in the centre's Reading and Viewing Room, where they will remain for at least two years.
Also to be seen there are the desks once owned by Edgar Allan Poe and Compton MacKenzie.
A poignant evocation of Fowles' life and travels, his desk's drawers also contain two rubber bands, an optometrist's prescription card, Greek and Swedish coins, a leather dice shaker, a bag of pebbles and an ancient Tic Tac mint.
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