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Fred Gipson

 A Guide to the Fred Gipson Papers, 1948-1957, n.d.

Fred Gipson exhibit at the Wittliff Collections, Feb 1 - May 15, 2024

0.5 linear feet
1 document case

Complete inventory available in PDF

Acquisition:  Gifts donated by Bill and Sally Wittliff, 1994.

Access:  Direct inquiries to Archivist, Southwestern Writers Collection, Albert B. Alkek Library, 601 University Drive, San Marcos, Texas 78666-4604.  (512) 245-2313.

Processed by:  Amanda York, 2002.

Texas novelist and journalist Frederick Benjamin Gipson was born February 7, 1908, in Mason, TX, and is best known for his novel, Old Yeller. He graduated from high school in 1926, worked various jobs until he attended the University of Texas from 1933-37. Although he did not complete his degree, he found work as a reporter for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times from 1938-40. He began working as a freelance writer in 1940, publishing many short stories, especially in the Southwest Review. His first non-fiction book, Fabulous Empire : Colonel Zack Miller’s Story, was published in 1946, and his first fictional work, Hound-Dog Man in 1949. 

Gipson went on to publish many more fiction and non-fiction works, winning numerous awards, and garnering special recognition for Old Yeller, which was pronounced a classic almost immediately after its publication in 1956. Although many of his fictional works were written for young audiences, “Fred Gipson’s tales of the Texas hill country have charmed young and old, in print and film, for more than three decades… (He) was a top-notch storyteller, he had a good ear for dialect and a light hand in transcribing it. He handled well, if not very originally, that most familiar them in American fiction: initiation,” (William T. Pilkington, Twentieth Century Western Writers). Old Yeller, Savage Sam, and Hound Dog Man (as Return of the Texan) were all produced as films, working from scripts by Gipson. The author died at his home near Mason, in 1973.

Works Published:

Fabulous Empire : Colonel Zack Miller’s Story. Boston: Houghton, 1946.

Big Bend : A Homesteader’s Story. Austin: UT Press, 1952.

Cowhand : The Story of a Working Cowboy. New York: Harper, 1953.

The Cow Killers : With the Aftosa Commission in Mexico. Austin: UT Press, 1956.

An Acceptance Speech. New York: Harper, 1960.


Hound-Dog Man. New York: Harper, 1949.

The Home Place. New York: Harper, 1950.

Recollection Creek. New York: Harper, 1955.

The Trail-Driving Rooster. New York: Harper, 1955.

Old Yeller. New York: Harper, 1956.

Old Yeller screenplay for Walt Disney, 1957.

Hound-Dog Man screenplay with William Tunberg for 20th Century Fox, 1959.

Savage Sam. New York: Harper, 1960.

Savage Sam, screenplay with William Tunberg for Walt Disney, 1963.

Little Arliss. New York: Harper, 1978.

Curly and the Wild Boar. New York: Harper, 1980.

These papers represent drafts of several of Gipson’s short stories, screenplays, and one nonfiction autobiographical piece, arranged by genre and in chronological order, with dates ranging from 1948-1957, and many items having no date. For each item there is typically one annotated typescript and one final draft typescript, along with a custom made folding box for the items related to each title. Of particular note is the 1957 shooting script for the Walt Disney film production of Gipson’s Old Yeller, which also includes a letter from Gipson to Joe Small.

Series 1: Short Stories (1957, n.d.)

Series 2: Screenplays and scripts (1957, n.d.)

Series 3: Nonfiction (1948)