Texas Women Writers: A Tradition of Their Own

Texas Women Writers: A Tradition of Their Own

Texas Women Writers: A Tradition of Their Own

Texas Women Writers: A Tradition of Their Own


In 1893, a literary critic in the Galveston Daily News lamented that the many women writers in the state, "women of noble talents," had largely gone unnoticed by the literary industry. Her lament has reverberated throughout the past century, as women's letters in Texas have been further marginalized by the male canonmakers who paid tribute to the Texas Mystique--oil derricks, cowboys, and the Alamo: masculine western icons that shaped a region's literature.

Texas Women Writers: A Tradition of Their Own is a sweeping account of a rich yet largely ignored literary history covering over 160 years of women's writing in the Lone Star State. Their writings vary widely in theme, setting, and voice; nevertheless these writers share a distinct tradition that is in part defined by their isolation due to both geography and gender and is wholly different from their male counterparts'.

The survey begins with pioneer diarists who chronicled their experiences on the Texas frontier, and it ends with the postmodernists and a glimpse of the new directions in which Texas' women writers are now heading. In between are critical-biographical portraits of the lives and careers of individual writers both major and minor: from novelists, dramatists, and poets, to writers of short stories, children's books, and creative nonfiction. The survey covers the developmental history of major genres in the region and chronologically reviews each generation and the particular challenges of time and place that shaped their work. The careers of African American and Tejana writers are also examined as part of newly emerging literary traditions.

Edited by Lou Halsell Rodenberger and Sylvia Ann Grider, this volume brings together a host of contributors comprising some of the region's most prominent scholar-writers. The editors also list primary and important secondary material in perhaps the most comprehensive bibliography ever devoted to Texas women's literature. Texas Women Writers will introduce many readers to a vibrant literary tradition that is unique to the Texas experience.


Women armed only with pen and paper have been capturing the Texas experience for more than 150 years. The first were women who came to the state as visitors and stayed long enough to record their impressions of the landscape and the colonists' lives. Those who lived in the early settlements after Texas had declared its independence, perceiving that they were history makers, scribbled diaries or later wrote their reminiscences, usually at the request of family members. By the middle 1880s, reflections on life in the new state, written by women who had acquired a strong sense of Texas as place, were appearing in newspaper stories, periodical articles, short stories, and novels. But Texas's border, interminable though it may be, rarely has fenced in its women writers. Several early native-born writers were educated in eastern universities. Others traveled widely, often abroad or to Mexico. None, it seems, thought of themselves as "good ol' girls" from Big Texas, as did many of their men counterparts.

Our definition of Texas women writers includes women who have lived in the state long enough to develop a sense of place and to acquire an understanding of the state's complex regional and cultural diversity, who reflect that knowledge in what they have written. Many can be classified as regionalists, but none should be regarded as provincial. Not all were born in Texas, nor have many made Texas . . .

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