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Jan Reid (1945–2020)

We at the University of Texas Press are deeply saddened by the passing of our friend and author Jan Reid. He was the author or editor of a dozen books, six of which were published by the University of Texas Press. The most recent title from us, Let the People In, his biography of Governor Ann Richards, was an IndieBound pick and endorsed by President Bill Clinton. He and Kip Stratton coedited an anthology of Grover Lewis's writing, Splendor in the Short Grass, that drew praise from The New York Times Book Review for its “flinty appeal.” His books about Texas music, a biography of Doug Sahm and the canonical Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock, were cornerstones of our music list and models for other serious music journalists.

Let the People In was, in many ways, a personal book for Jan, who knew Richards through his wife, Dorothy Browne, a member of the governor’s staff. However, it was probably not the most personal book he ever published. That was The Bullet Meant for Me, his memoir about being shot during an attempted robbery in Mexico and the long recovery that followed. His other books include Rio Grande, a collection of literary writing and photography about the iconic river with contributions by Elena Poniatowska, John Graves, Dagoberto Gilb, Molly Ivins, Woody Guthrie, and Gloria Anzaldúa.

Beyond the books he published with UT Press, Jan’s long career included several novels and countless works of journalism, particularly for Texas Monthly. In the magazine’s tribute, author Stephen Harrigan summed up some of what made Jan so distinctive and wonderful:

“Jan Reid spoke slowly and quietly,” Harrigan said. “I never heard him raise his voice, either in person or in prose. His works of fiction and journalism and personal reflection are marked by an exquisite steadiness of tone that had its origin in his personality, but was refined by a lifetime of undeviating devotion to his craft. His writing is part of the DNA of Texas Monthly and of the legacy of Texas literature.”

It is an honor to have published so many of Jan Reid’s books. He will be greatly missed.

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