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News Release — September 28, 2011

Texas Literary Life

SAN MARCOS, TX — The Wittliff Collections present masterful storytellers and Wittliff donors Sarah Bird, Elizabeth Crook, and Stephen Harrigan for a conversation, among other things, about the connections and energy that come from writing in the Texas Hill Country. The evening begins at 6:30 p.m. with a public reception, and the discussion will start at 7:00 p.m. A Q&A and book signing with all three authors will follow, and their books will be for sale by the University Bookstore.

Crook will moderate the discussion. Bird and Harrigan—who were present at the 1991 dedication of the Wittliff’s Southwestern Writers Collection—both have new novels from Knopf: Bird’s The Gap Year was published this July; Harrigan’s Remember Ben Clayton came out in May.

“We’re excited about bringing these three important Texas writers to the Wittliff, all of whom have archives in the collections,” said curator Steve Davis. “Once again we’re presenting a ‘discussion’ format, which we find really opens up the conversation, and with such talents and longtime friends as Sarah Bird, Elizabeth Crook, and Stephen Harrigan, the audience is guaranteed a very memorable evening.”


Called a “seasoned Texan social satirist” by Publishers Weekly, Sarah Bird is a novelist, screenwriter, and journalist known for her mingling of smart wit, authentic tenderness, and a sense of the absurd. Bird’s first published novel was Do Evil Cheerfully, a mystery. Her 1986 comic novel The Alamo House was based on her experience as a graduate student at the University of Texas. More recently she has been widely praised for The Yokota Officers Club and The Flamenco Academy, and Knopf published her latest novel, The Gap Year, in July. In addition to novels, Bird writes screenplays and teleplays. She wrote a popular column for Texas Monthly, and her articles have appeared in national magazines such as Cosmopolitan, O, and Salon.


Specializing in historical fiction, Elizabeth Crook adapted and expanded her intense research on a lengthy article for the Southwestern Historical Quarterly into her first best-selling book, The Raven’s Bride: A Novel of Eliza Allen and Sam Houston. According to Bill Moyers, Crook “brought to life the great events of Texas past and turned them into a robust novel…. From start to finish she had me.” Raven’s Bride was honored as the 2006 “Texas Reads: One Book One Texas” selection. Crook’s second novel, Promised Lands: A Novel of Texas Rebellion, was hailed as a powerful, intimate portrait of the physical and psychological horrors of the 1835–36 conflict with Mexico. Her most recent novel, The Night Journal, was awarded the 2007 Spur Award for Best Long Novel of the West and the 2007 Willa Literary Award for Historical Fiction.


Stephen Harrigan’s articles and essays have appeared in such magazines as The New York Times Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, Audubon, Life, American History, National Geographic, Slate, Rolling Stone, The Atlantic Monthly, and Esquire, and for many years he was a staff writer and senior editor for Texas Monthly. In addition to journalism, Harrigan’s work includes two books of nonfiction, several teleplays and screenplays, and the acclaimed novels Aransas, Jacob’s Well, The Gates of the Alamo—which became a New York Times best seller—and Challenger Park, a story about a women astronaut torn between her motherly responsibilities and her dreams of flying in space. Remember Ben Clayton, his newest novel, published by Knopf this past May, has been praised by Booklist as “a stunning work of art” and The Wall Street Journal as a “poignantly human monument to our history.”