Born in Indian Creek, Texas, in 1890 (as Callie Russell Porter), Katherine Anne Porter considered herself the first native Texan to become a professional writer. She became a highly acclaimed fiction writer, winning both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for a collection of her works in 1966. Her short stories, essays and articles contain many references to her early life in Texas. But she said she left Texas because she didn't want to be regarded as a freak, which was how she believed Texans regarded women who tried to write. Her best known work is her only novel, Ship of Fools, published in 1962 and later made into a motion picture.
Written by Cynthia J. Beeman
Read by Sara Hickman
Katherine Anne Porter, one of America's most celebrated writers of fiction, was born in Indian Creek near Brownwood, but grew up in Kyle. She left Texas in 1915, became an actress, teacher, and journalist, and traveled the world. Considered a preeminent writer of short stories, she gained critical acclaim in 1930 with her first published collection, Flowering Judas and Other Stories. It was followed by another well-received collection, Pale Horse, Pale Rider, in 1939. Her 1962 novel, Ship of Fools, was made into a successful motion picture. The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter, considered her master work, won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 1965.
Porter wrote often about Texas, and was a candidate for the first award of the Texas Institute of Letters, but the honor went instead to J. Frank Dobie. She negotiated with the University of Texas for placement of her papers there, but when the university declined to name a library for her, she turned instead to the University of Maryland, which established a Katherine Anne Porter Room to house her archives. Restored by local preservationists and leased to Texas State University, her childhood home in Kyle is now the Katherine Anne Porter Literary Center, with programs coordinated by the university’s English Department. It was designated a National Literary Landmark in 2002, and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.
Joan Givner, "PORTER, KATHERINE ANNE," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fpo40.
Katherine Anne Porter historical marker files (Brown and Hays counties), Texas Historical Commission, Austin.
The Katherine Anne Porter Literary Center, Texas State University, San Marcos, http://www.kapliterarycenter.com/KAP_HistoryPage.html.
Biography Source Information
Biographies are reprinted from the Foundation for Women’s Resources (now Women’s Resources), Dallas, Texas. They originally appeared in "From Gutsy Mavericks to Quiet Heroes: True Tales of Texas Women," video study guide, Austin: The Foundation for Women's Resources, 1997. Death dates have been added where needed.
Audio Source Information
Our project, "Texas Women's History Moments," received the 2012 National Council on Public History Outstanding Public History Award and the American Association for State and Local History Leadership in History Award. The audio clips were broadcast on KUT radio from 2011-2016 during Women’s History Month.