Winifred Sanford is generally regarded by critics as one of the best and most important early twentieth-century Texas women writers, despite publishing only a handful of short stories before slipping into relative obscurity. First championed by her mentor, H. L. Mencken, and published in his magazine, The American Mercury, 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 boomtowns during that period. Four of her stories were included in The Best American Short Stories of 1926.
Questioning the sudden end to Sanford’s writing career, Wiesepape, a leading literary historian of Texas women writers, delved into the author’s previously unexamined private papers and emerged with an insightful and revealing study that sheds light on both Sanford’s abbreviated career and the domestic lives of women at the time. The first in-depth account of Sanford’s life and work, Wiesepape’s biography discusses Sanford’s fiction through the lens of the sociohistorical contexts that shaped and inspired it. In addition, Wiesepape has included two previously unpublished stories as well as eighteen previously unpublished letters to Sanford from Mencken.
Winifred Sanford is an illuminating biography of one of the state’s unsung literary jewels and an important and much-needed addition to the often overlooked field of Texas women’s writing.
A native Texan, Betty Holland Wiesepape taught creative writing and literature at the University of Texas at Dallas for twenty years, retiring in 2020. She is the author of Lone Star Chapters: The Story of Texas Literary Clubs, and contributed the title story to Let’s Hear It: Stories by Texas Women Writers.
Winifred Sanford: The Life and Times of a Texas Writer is a well-researched and thorough account of Sanford’s life…If you are part of the ever-growing community of scholars who can’t help but puzzle over the shortage of women writers, especially Texas women writers, then this biography may be for you.
— Texas Books in Review
Wiesepape’s methodology in bridging Sanford’s private and public life proves to be highly effective, as she leaves few gaps in Sanford’s life unaccounted for.
— Great Plains Quarterly
One of the most exciting new contributions to the field of Texas women’s writing that has appeared in decades!
— Sylvia Grider, Professor Emeritus, Department of Anthropology, Texas A&M University
AcknowledgementsIntroductionChapter One: The Story BeginsChapter Two: A Wonderful TimeChapter Three: Keeping HouseChapter Four: Difficult AdjustmentsChapter Five: The American Mercury AdventureChapter Six: Plans, Pressures, and ExpectationsChapter Seven: Unexpected InterruptionsChapter Eight: Pieces of the PuzzleChapter Nine: One Story Ends and Another BeginsConclusionA List of Winifred Sanford’s PublicationsA List of Stories and Novels That Winifred Sanford Wrote but Never PublishedAppendix A: Letters Exchanged Between Winifred Sanford and the Editors of The American MercuryAppendix B: Lagniappe: Two Unpublished Stories by Winifred SanfordAppendix C: Two Nonfiction Articles for WritersBibliography
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