Prof’s Book Sheds Light on Mysterious Texas Writer

Winifred Sanford's Acclaimed Stories Capture Life in the 1920s Oil Boom Years

Dr. Betty Holland Wiesepape, who teaches creative writing and literature at UT Dallas, has published Winifred Sanford: The Life and Times of a Texas Writer, a biography of one of Texas’ most mysterious writers.

Winifred Sanford Book Cover

Winifred Sanford published a handful of acclaimed short stories in the 1920s before fading into obscurity.

Winifred Sanford is considered an important early 20th-century Texas writer, despite publishing only a handful of short stories before fading into obscurity.

“I was just beginning to submit my own short fiction for publication, and I knew that if I ever experienced the level of success that Winifred Sanford had achieved almost instantaneously, I would not stop writing and go on to other things,” Wiesepape writes in the book. “Other scholars have puzzled over this sudden end and have lamented the fact that, although Winifred lived to be 93 years old, her last short story was published when she was only 41.”

Many of Sanford’s stories were set during the Texas oil boom of the 1920s and 1930s and offer a unique perspective on life in the boom towns during that period. Four of her stories were listed in The Best American Short Stories anthology of 1926.

“Although Sanford did not have a prolific career, scholars pronounced her works, published in leading American magazines in the 20s and 30s, to be on par with the short stories of Pulitzer-Prize-winning Texas author Katherine Anne Porter and superior to all other stories written in Texas during that time period,” Wiesepape said.

Dr. Betty Wiesepape

Dr. Betty Wiesepape said Sanford's stories were judged to be on par with those of Pulitzer-winning writer Katherine Anne Porter.

For her study, Wiesepape turned to the author’s previously unexamined private papers and emerged with a study that sheds light on both Sanford’s abbreviated career and the domestic lives of women at the time. Sanford’s fiction is examined through the socio-historical contexts that shaped and inspired it.

“For this project, I have made careful examination, through the primary sources, correspondence, and other related materials that reside among her papers, of the circumstances surrounding the termination of Winifred Sanford’s writing career. I reveal my findings and solve the mystery of her aborted career in the pages of this biography,” added Wiesepape.

The book also includes two previously unpublished stories and 18 unpublished letters between Sanford and her literary mentor H.L. Mencken.

A native Texan, Wiesepape published her first book on Texas literary history, Lone Star Chapters: The Story of Texas Literary Clubs, in 2004 and contributed to Let’s Hear It: Stories by Texas Women Writers, an anthology of short fiction from 23 Texas women writers from 1890 to the present.

Winifred Sanford is published by the University of Texas Press, and is part of the Southwestern Writers Collection Series, which originates from the Wittliff Collections, a repository of literature, film, music, and southwestern and Mexican photography established at Texas State University.

Wiesepape will be signing books and giving a short reading from her book on March 23, from 2-4 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, Creekwalk Village, in Plano.

Creative Writing Prof ReynoldsReissues Fiction in eBook Format

Monuments (above) and Tentmaker are both being reissued.

Dr. Clay Reynolds, director of creative writing at UT Dallas, has reissued all of his Western fiction in ebook form.

The Western and contemporary Western-themed novels have been re-edited with redesigned covers and include new introductions by Reynolds.

The publications include his Franklin’s Crossing, along with a historical Western, The Tentmaker, and novels set in contemporary or near-contemporary times: Monuments, Ars Poetica , Threading the Needle, Players, Agatite and The Vigil.

Reynolds’ novels are known for their themes of grit, daring, mystery, humor and the display of determination on the part of the characters even in hopeless or overwhelming conditions bred by living in an unforgiving, starkly beautiful landscape.

The ebooks will be available at Amazon and Baenebooks.



Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].