Skip to Content

News Release — November 6, 2009

Actress and storyteller brings Katherine Anne Porter to life

SAN MARCOS, Texas—Katherine Anne Porter once said, “I never started out with anything in this world but a kind of passion, a driving desire.” Porter’s drive, along with her flawless pen and penetrating insights, made her a major voice in twentieth-century American literature. In a tribute to Porter’s life, work, and legacy, actress Pennylyn White brings to life the woman behind the pen in a probing performance using extracts from the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winning author’s body of fiction, essays, and poetry, as well as her personal letters.

White will present Katherine Anne Porter, A Driving Desire on Saturday, November 14, at 7:00 p.m. at the Wittliff Collections, Alkek Library, Texas State University-San Marcos. Co-sponsored by the Department of English, with special thanks to the Jane Hope Hastings Philanthropic Trust, this event is free and open to the public. Call 512.245.2313 for more information.

Since Porter’s death, her reputation as a “Texas” writer has grown even though she lived most of her life outside the state and felt unappreciated by it. Critic A.C. Greene, writing in The Fifty Best Books on Texas, calls Pale Horse, Pale Rider “the best Texas fiction ever written.”

The Wittliff Collections hold two small but significant literary archives of Katherine Anne Porter. In 1991 Porter’s nephew, Paul Porter, donated a collection of correspondence, photographs, and rare books. (Porter’s three-page letter to her nephew is currently on display at the Wittliff as part of the exhibition, The Lightning Field: Mapping the Creative Process.) In 1998 the Wittliff Collections acquired the Katherine Anne Porter Collection of Roger L. Brooks, which includes correspondence, photographs, and interviews that lend insight into Porter’s relationship to her home state of Texas in the last years of her life. Included as part of the collection are letters and telegrams from dozens of world-renowned writers describing their varied reactions to Katherine Anne Porter’s work. A biography of the author and the archival inventories are online. Texas State’s Katherine Anne Porter Literary Center in Kyle was the author’s childhood home from 1892-1901.

An actress, writer, and storyteller, White has developed several other one-woman shows, including “Love, Laughter and L’Amor” based on the life of Edith Wharton, now reconfigured as a video performance, “All Souls: The Haunted World of Edith Wharton”. She has performed in many plays, including” Story Theatre” and “Metamorphoses” on Broadway, and her own play, “In Bocca Alla Lupa,” premiered in New York in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, White has taught courses in Movement, Storytelling, and Integrating Creativity at the University of Rio Grande’s summer graduate program for teachers for the last five years.

Katherine Anne Porter: A Driving Desire — A Performance by Pennylyn White

Saturday, November 14, 7:00 pm
Alkek Library, Seventh Floor | Texas State University-San Marcos | 512.245.2313
Admission is free and open to the public.