Since 1973, Texas Monthly has spotlighted hundreds of Texans who, for better or worse, make this state like no place else. TEXAS MONTHLY On . . . Texas Women profiles thirteen women who are not only fascinating in their own right, but also representative of the legions of women who have contributed to the character and uniqueness of Texas. They range from First Ladies Laura Bush and Lady Bird Johnson to pop culture icons such as Candy Barr and Janis Joplin—and all of them exemplify the qualities that make Texas women distinctive. The women's profiles originally appeared as articles in the magazine, authored by some of Texas Monthly's notable writers—Cecilia Ballí, Gary Cartwright, Paul Burka, Mimi Swartz, Jan Jarboe Russell, Skip Hollandsworth, Robert Draper, William Broyles Jr., Jan Reid, Joe Nick Patoski, Pamela Colloff, and Helen Thorpe. The writers also introduce their pieces with headnotes that update the stories or, in some cases, tell the story behind the story.
TEXAS MONTHLY On . . . Texas Women is the first in a series of books in which the editors of Texas Monthly will offer the magazine's inimitable perspective on various aspects of Texas culture, including food, politics, travel, and music, among other topics.
There is such a thing as a Texas woman. She's a very particular and recognizable type: independent and courageous, comfortable in her skin, possessed of both frontier survival skills and urban sophistication, fun-loving, forward-thinking, rich in spirit. Such a person may not exist elsewhere—not in the sense of fully embodying the values of the place she calls home—but she certainly can be found here, and she's been with us as long as Texas has. If you don't believe it, you're about to find out.
The stories in this collection, all of which first appeared in Texas Monthly, pay tribute to some really extraordinary examples of the species. Over the past 33 years we've had the good fortune to write about first ladies and second wives, writers and ranchers, senators and socialites and strippers, and more than a few moms. To a one, they've been every bit as interesting and exceptional, in ways obvious and not, as their male counterparts. And they've been great material.
Though not all for the same reason. In some cases, the lives and times of our subjects have demonstrated something superlative: Barbara Jordan's groundbreaking accomplishments in politics, Selena's and Janis Joplin's star turns in music, and Hallie Stillwell's long years tending to the lands of West Texas need no explication. In others, it's the arc of the narrative that really moves you: the flowering of Claudia Alta Taylor into Lady Bird, the rearing of three daughters any mother would be proud of by a widowed Mexican immigrant who spoke little English. A few of the profiles here fall into the category of strange bedfellows: Molly Ivins, meet Laura Bush. And what would Cynthia Ann Parker have made of Candy Barr? (Come to think of it, they had at least one thing in common: men who tried—and failed—to tame their wild ways.)
The writers who brought these and other wonderful women alive are superlative, too. So are Texas Monthly's former editors—Bill Broyles and Greg Curtis—who had the good sense to assign more than half the pieces you're about to read, and its founder and publisher, Mike Levy, who recognizes, as few in his position do, the value of a magazine that's a venue for this kind of great journalism.
Evan Smith, Editor
From the editors of Texas Monthly
Texas Monthly has chronicled life in contemporary Texas since 1973, reporting on vital issues such as politics, the environment, industry, and education, as well as music, the arts, travel, restaurants, and cultural events. The magazine has received dozens of editorial and design awards, including nine National Magazine Awards, the industry's highest honor. Evan Smith joined the staff of Texas Monthly in 1992. He became editor in 2000 and executive vice president in 2002. He also hosts Texas Monthly Talks, a weekly interview program that airs statewide on PBS.
"There is such a thing as a Texas woman. She's a very particular and recognizable type: independent and courageous, comfortable in her skin, possessed of both frontier survival skills and urban sophistication, fun-loving, forward-thinking, rich in spirit. Such a person may not exist elsewhere—not in the sense of fully embodying the values of the place she calls home—but she certainly can be found here, and she's been with us as long as Texas has. If you don't believe it, you're about to find out."
—from the introduction by Evan Smith