The Nevada Writers Hall of Fame was conceived by former Friends of the University Libraries President Marilyn Melton in 1988. She envisioned two purposes: an annual event honoring Nevada's finest writers, and a stimulus to encourage excellence among emerging writers in the Silver State.
The first selection committee met at Marilyn’s home and chose Robert Laxalt and Walter Van Tilburg Clark as the recipients. Since that time, the Hall of Fame has become an annual event.
The names of all the authors who have been inducted into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame are now prominently displayed on a wall of honor in the Leslie Harvey and Robert George Whittemore Tower Entry and Reception Gallery of the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center.
Honorees are selected based on their body of work, critical recognition, and a strong connection to Nevada through the themes of their writing or residence in the state. Including the 2016 inductees, there are 54 members of the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame.
Nevada Writers Hall of Fame Members
2019 - Robyn Carr
Robyn Carr was an Air Force wife and a young mother of two when she started writing fiction in the mid-1970s. Since then, she has become one of the world’s most popular authors of romance and women’s fiction, with 11 of her novels reaching the #1 spot on the New York Times bestseller list.
Robyn’s novels have spent nearly 250 weeks on that prestigious list and have sold over 27 million copies worldwide, with her beloved, 20-book Virgin River series alone netting more than 13 million copies. In recognition of her the significant contributions to the genre, the Romance Writers of America awarded Robyn the 2016 Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award.
In addition to her wildly popular contemporary romance series—which include Virgin River, Thunder Point, and Sullivan's Crossing—Robyn also writes stand-alone women’s fiction, including titles like The Life She Wants, The Summer That Made Us, and The View from Alameda Island. Her recent novels have landed on the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists.
2018 - Robert Leonard Reid
Robert Leonard Reid is the author of five books, four works for the theater, and more than 100 essays, articles, and short stories. Louise Erdrich characterized Reid's essays as "wonderfully fluent, even visionary." Ron Hansen called them "stirring, witty, gorgeously written." Reid's latest book, Because It Is So Beautiful: Unraveling the Mystique of the American West, was a finalist for the 2018 PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. Bob has received two Artist Fellowships in Literary Arts from the Nevada Arts Council. A prolific songwriter, he has written and staged three satirical musical revues and the 24-song Bristlecone Mass. For more than a decade he has served as piano accompanist for songstress June Joplin in the Great American Songbook duo, Me and Bobby McGee. Bob attended Harvard College, where he earned a degree in mathematics. He lives in Carson City with his wife, Carol Dimmick Reid. They have a son, Jacob.
2017 - Terri Farley, Donald Revell
Terri Farley is the best-selling author of books about the contemporary and historic West. Wild at Heart: Mustangs and the Young People Fighting to Save Them, non-fiction published by Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt, is a Junior Library Guild selection, winner of the Sterling North Heritage award for Excellence in Children's Literature and has been honored by Western Writers of America, National Science Teachers Association and American Association for the Advancement of Science. It also received Young Adult Notable Books recognition from the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award in and was included on the Children's Book Council's Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12 list. Her Phantom Stallion (HarperCollins) series for young readers and Seven Tears into the Sea (Simon and Schuster) have sold over two million copies worldwide.
Donald Revell was born in the borough of the Bronx in New York City in 1954. He emerged from it a poet. He obtained his BA at Harpur College and his PhD from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He has served as editor-in-chief for the Denver Quarterly and as poetry editor for the Colorado Review. He is a former fellow of the Ingram Merrill and Guggenheim Foundations and has received poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. He is the 2004 recipient of the Academy of American Poets' Lenore Marshall Prize and three PEN USA Awards in poetry and translation. Before moving to Nevada, he taught at the University of Utah. He has been a columnist for The American Poetry Review, which has published many of his poems. He is married to Claudia Keelan, who received the Silver Pen Award in 2001. Revell became a recipient of the Silver Pen Award in 2005. He is Chair and Professor of the English Department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He also served as Director of the Creative Writing Program and Director of Graduate Studies in English at the university. He is an unabashed Miltonist.
2016 - Gailmarie Pahmeier, Willy Vlautin
Gailmarie Pahmeier obtained her BA in creative writing from Southern Illinois University and her MFA in poetry from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 1983. She was Visiting Poet in the Poetry-in-the-Schools Program for the State of Arkansas from 1979-1983 and served as Poetry Editor for Nimrod from 1983-1984. After moving to Reno in 1984, she worked part time at Truckee Meadows Community College and as the Arts in Education Coordinator for Sierra Arts Foundation. In 1985, she became a lecturer in the English Department at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she continues to teach creative writing, poetry, women’s literature, contemporary literature, and literature of work and class. While at UNR, she has received the Alan Bible Teaching Excellence Award (1994) and the University Distinguished Teacher Award (1995). She has been nominated twice for the Regents Teaching Award. She has been Visiting Writer and Poet in Residence in Alaska, New York, and Wisconsin, as well as in California, Nevada and Utah.
A forever baseball fan, she served as President of the Sport Literature Association in 1993. She has served as the TumbleWords Poet for the Nevada Arts Council since 1994 and has been a judge for the Poetry Out Loud competition at the county and state finals levels in Nevada. The recipient of two Artists Fellowships from the Nevada Arts Council, she served as the first Poet in Residence for the Power Up Poetry program, from 2012-2013, promoting poetry throughout rural Nevada. She has given readings during the Nevada Humanities Literary Crawl in downtown Reno, which launched in the summer of 2014.
Since 2012, she has taught at Sierra Nevada College for its MFA Program in Creative Writing. She has also participated in its “Writers in the Woods” program hosted by its Poetry Center and has been on the Center’s Advisory Board since 2013. From 2008-2014 she served as a National Literary Panelist for the YoungArts Program sponsored by the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts.
Among her many honors, she received the Silver Pen Award from the Friends of the University Library in 1999. In 2007, she received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. In 2009 she received the Coal Hill Review Chapbook Prize for Shake It and It Snows. She has also received the 2012 Publisher’s Award and the Editor’s Choice Award for her poems, along with the Chambers Memorial Award in Poetry in 1996, and a Witter Bynner Foundation Poetry Fellowship in 1997.
In January 2015, she became Reno’s first Poet Laureate, a position established by the Reno City Council. One project she developed in that role was the Reno Community Poem Project, in which the entire community was encouraged to participate. Characterizing herself as a teaching poet, she noted in a 2015 interview, “Everyone has a voice and a right to express it.”
Willy Vlautin was born in Reno and became a guitar player and song writer while in his teens. He founded the alternative country band Richmond Fontaine in 1994, which has been well received in Europe and has produced studio albums, live recordings, and extended play recordings. He formed his second band, The Delines, in 2014 with vocalist Amy Boone, continuing in the role of song writer and guitarist. His spare writing style conveys bleakness in both his songs and novels as he portrays the realities of often invisible Americans. “The only thing you can do … is get up every morning and try to do a little bit better than you did the day before …”
2015 - Ellen Hopkins
Ellen Hopkins published her first haiku, at age nine, in the Palm Springs Desert Sun, igniting the writing spark. Born and educated in California, she entered, and won, creative writing contests throughout high school. She began her career as a freelance writer, then worked as a reporter and editor for the Tahoe Truckee Reader from 1992-96 and later as editor and contributor for Northern Nevada Family from 2000-02. She has also been a contributor to the Reno Gazette-Journal. She was an instructor for the Institute of Children's Literature from 2000-03. During that time, she began focusing on children’s nonfiction, publishing 20 titles before switching to fiction. Concurrently, as a member of Carson City’s Ash Canyon Poets, she stoked her fire for poetry, growing her craft through exceptional critique. Her involvement with the regional Children's Book Writers and Illustrators group led to a meeting with a representative of Simon & Schuster, which published her first novel-in-verse, Crank, in 2004. Both one-word titles and free form verse fiction would become her trademarks. In 2006, she received the Friends of the University Libraries' Silver Pen Award and her young adult novel, Burned, was nominated for a National Book Award. In 2014, her YA novel Smoke was a runner-up finalist for the Teen Choice Book of the Year Award. In January 2014, TheatreWorks of Northern Nevada produced Flirting with the Monster, a stage adaptation of her award-winning and controversial first novel, Crank. To date, nine of her young adult novels-in-verse have been New York Times bestsellers. Her 12th novel is being published in November 2015. Characterized as a young adult phenomenon, her "breathtakingly raw" YA novels delve into tough subjects, such as addiction, religion, sexual abuse, and suicide. Her decision to pull no punches when dealing with real world problems has occasionally led to book-banning controversies in some school districts. Characteristically, her response was to write a poem for Banned Books Week about people seeking to force their values on others through censorship. Her books for adult readers touch on hot button issues like military deployment and its impact on both those deployed and those left behind. Hopkins uses social media to interact with her readers, crediting them for some of her writing ideas. In 2012, she and her younger daughter, Kelly Foutz, co-founded Ventana Sierra, a non-profit organization that helps at-risk youth with housing, medical care, and other necessary resources, including educational support and career guidance. She has lived near Carson City since 1990 with her extended family, two dogs, one cat, and two ponds (not pounds!) of koi.
2014 - Shaun Griffin, Ronald James
Shaun Griffin’s soulful poetry and engagement with Nevada communities make him one of the state’s most well-loved literary figures. He is the author of This is What the Desert Surrenders, Bathing in the River of Ashes and Woodsmoke, Wind and the Peregrine, among others. Recurring themes in his poetry are "... family, landscape and work for justice in the larger world." Griffin’s editing also adds to his literary legacy, specifically his editing of Torn By Light, poems by Joanne de Longchamps. Likewise, his translations of Emma Sepulveda’s poems have allowed her work to be enjoyed by an increasingly wider audience. Both de Longchamps and Sepulveda are members of the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame. From Griffin: “I believe poetry has a central role in our lives – if we slow down and find the one poem that excites us. From there on, it is like returning to a fountain for fresh water. We can be a culture of poetry readers…if we listen for the voice lying dormant on the shelves.” In the early 1980s, he began offering creative writing workshops for prisoners at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center. He is the editor of Razor Wire, an annual poetry journal, that grew from that effort. Griffin received the Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts in 1995 and was awarded the Silver Pen as an “author of promise” from the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame in 1998. He is the co-founder and executive director of Community Chest, Inc., a rural and social justice agency serving northwestern Nevada since 1991, and is also the director of the Homeless Youth Education Office. In 2004 he served on the Nevada Arts Council and is a member of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. In 2008 he served as judge for the Neltje Blanchan Memorial Award and the Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. He lives in Virginia City, Nevada, mentors a writing class at the Nevada State Prison, periodically teaches other creative writing classes and poetry workshops, and is also a watercolorist.
Ronald M. James was born in Reno and is the author or co-author of over a dozen books, including The Roar and the Silence: A History of Virginia City and the Comstock Lode and Uncovering Nevada’s Past: A Primary Source History of the Silver State. More recently, his co-edited book, The Gold Rush Letters of E. Allen Grosh and Hosea B. Grosh, received an “Award of Special Recognition” from the National Mining History Association. James obtained his dual bachelor's degree in anthropology and history in 1978 and his Master of Arts degree in medieval history with an emphasis in folklore in 1981 from the University of Nevada, Reno. He later studied at the Irish Department of Folklore at University College, Dublin. In 1997, he began serving as an adjunct professor with the Historic Preservation Program in affiliation with the Anthropology Department at UNR. His articles and photographs on folklore, history, architectural history, and archaeology have appeared in popular and academic journals in six countries. He served on the Board of Editors and as a manuscript referee for The Western Historical Quarterly which is published by Utah State University. He wrote over 100 entries for the Online Nevada Encyclopedia and served as its section editor. Besides writing, James is very involved with the state. An accomplished musician, he played with the Sierra Highlanders Pipe Band for many years. He administered the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office from 1983 until his retirement in 2013. In 2006, he was appointed as a panelist for the White House Initiative for Preserve America Summit, and won an Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History for curating the exhibit "Havens in a Heartless World: Archaeology of the Virginia City Saloon." In 2009, he was appointed to the Advisory Board for the National Park System. From 2004 to 2013, he served on the National Historic Landmarks Committee, both as member and chairman. In 2013, he helped organize the Comstock Foundation for History and Culture, serving as its executive director until the spring of 2015. He began serving as scholar in residence for the Fourth Ward School Museum in Virginia City in 2002.
2013 - Richard O. Davies
Richard O. “Dick” Davies, Distinguished History Professor Emeritus at the University of Nevada, Reno, was born in Hamilton, Ohio, on October 26, 1937. He obtained his B.A. at Marietta College in 1959; his M.A. at Ohio University in 1960, and his Ph.D. in American political history at the University of Missouri in 1963. He worked as a newspaper reporter in Marietta and Middletown, Ohio, from 1959-1960. He taught history at the University of Missouri, Columbia; Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff; Memphis State University; and the University of Southern California. He received a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship for younger scholars in 1967. In addition to being a member of the Department of History faculty, he served as Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Nevada, Reno. He is described as a “writer of great versatility and talent” in a letter of nomination submitted to the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame selection committee. “His books run the gamut from a biography of a conservative Republican presidential candidate, Defender of the Old Guard: John Bricker and American Politics (1993), to our country’s love of sports, America’s Obsessions: Sports and Society Since 1945 (1994), to the demise of our small towns, Main Street Blues: The Decline of Small-Town America (1998). ”Main Street Blues, a study of the small Ohio farming village of Camden, was named one of the top 25 books in American history by CHOICE. The Sharon and Richard O. Davies Research Endowment was established for a graduate student in History engaged in thesis or dissertation research. His The Main Event: Boxing in Nevada from the Mining Camps to the Las Vegas Strip won Foreword Reviews' INDIEFAB Book of the Year Bronze Medal in Sports (2014).
2012 - William A. Douglass
William A Douglass was born in Reno, Nevada, in 1939. He received his BA from the University of Nevada in Spanish Literature in 1961, then earned his MS in 1966, and then PhD from the University of Chicago in Anthropology in 1967. He also attended the University of Madrid from 1959-60, the University of Oslo in 1960, and UC Berkeley from 1962-3. In 1967, he joined the Anthropology faculty at UNR and founded the Basque Studies Program, now known as the Center for Basque Studies. He was its first director and served in that capacity for 33 years.
Considered one of the foremost experts in Basque Studies, Douglass also has language competency in Spanish, French, Italian, and Latin. He is a member of the American Anthropological Association, Current Anthropology, and Instituto Americano de Estudios Vascos. He obtained National Institute of Mental Health research scientist career development grants in 1971 and 1976, each of them 5-year grants. In 2002, the Society for the Anthropology of Europe established the William A. Douglass Prize in Europeanist Anthropology, an annual book award.
2011 - Waddie Mitchell
Bruce Douglas ("Waddie") Mitchell, a native Nevadan, goes by the nickname his father gave him, Waddie, which is early twentieth century slang for "cowboy." He grew up on working ranches in Elko County, Nevada, among storytellers who cultivated conversation as a pastime because there was no electricity for television and poor radio reception. He was reciting poems by the time he was ten years old and left school at 16 to work as a cowboy until he was drafted for military service: breaking and training horses for the U.S. Cavalry at Fort Carson, Colorado. After that, he spent 26 years as a working buckaroo (a Great Basin region cowboy) before focusing on a career as a cowboy poet performer. Mitchell's first public presentations as a cowboy poet were at the first and second Nevada Storytelling Festivals held at the University of Nevada, Reno, in 1982 and 1984. These festivals were funded by grants from Nevada Humanities. Also in the early 1980s, the Public Broadcasting Service made a documentary about cowboys, America, the Vanishing Breed, which included footage of Mitchell, then a ranch foreman, reciting some of his poetry. In 1984, Mitchell and Hal Cannon, a folklorist and past director of the Western Folk Life Center in Elko, were instrumental in organizing what has become the annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada. Mitchell recorded his first album of poetry in 1984 in Idaho. His first appearance on Johnny Carson's "The Tonight Show" was on June 12, 1986. He appeared again on The Tonight Show with Baxter Black on January 8, 1987. By 1988, Mitchell was the most well known cowboy poet in the country. His poems and those of other cowboy poets touched a chord with the general public, sparking growing interest in the genre. By 1996, there were about 150 cowboy poetry events throughout the West. Mitchell has supported cowboy poetry by serving as host for many of these festivals. His poem, "That No Quit Attitude," commissioned by the Cultural Olympiad, became the official poem for the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Winter Games. In May 2003, he and several Western musicians performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
Mitchell formed the Working Ranch Cowboy Association in 1994, which promotes rodeos with working ranch hands instead of professional riders, to help preserve authentic cowboy culture and heritage. The organization also raises money for scholarships and crisis funds for cowboys and their families. In 1997, the log ranch house that he grew up in, Sherman Station, was moved 60 miles to Elko, restored, and now serves as the Chamber of Commerce's Visitor's Information Building. In 2001, he received the Wrangler Award from the Cowboy Hall of Fame and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Mitchell was included on the Reno Gazette-Journal list of the Top 20 Artists, Authors and Entertainers To Influence Nevada in the 20th Century. He has taught as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Wyoming. He lives with his wife, Lisa Hackett, between Jiggs and Elko, Nevada, on Half Circle One ranch, which they designed to be self-sustaining with solar and wind power.
2010 - Darrell Spencer
Darrell Spencer was born in St. George, Utah, and grew up in Las Vegas, where he attended Las Vegas High School and UNLV. He earned his doctorate from the University of Utah in 1986 with A Woman Packing a Pistol, a collection of original short stories, and taught writing at Brigham Young University and Southern Utah University. While at Southern Utah University, he was the editor for the Black Ridge Review. He is currently a member of the English Department at Ohio University, where he is the Stocker Professor in Creative Writing. In 1991, his short story "Union Business" won the Lawrence Foundation Award for Fiction. Also in 1991, his short story "Song and Dance" was cited for recognition in The Pushcart Prize, Best American Short Stories, and Best of the West. In 1996, he won the Publication Award and the First Place Award in the Utah Arts Council's Original Writing Competition. He won the 1998-1999 Quarterly West Novella Competition, the 1998 Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, and the 2004 Drue Heinz Literature Prize for Bring Your Legs With You. The Association for Mormon Letters recognized him with its short story award in 1993 for his Our Secret's Out collection and with its short fiction award in 2001 for Caution: Men in Trees. He received Individual Artist Fellowship grants from the Ohio Arts Council in 1999, 2005 and 2009. He was the Stocker Professor in Creative Writing at Ohio University from 2003-2008.
2009 - H. Lee Barnes, The Sagebrush School
H. Lee Barnes was born in Moscow, Idaho, and grew up in the West. After serving in the Vietnam War as a Green Beret (U.S. Army Special Forces), he worked as a deputy sheriff in Clark County from 1966-1972, a narcotics agent for the Nevada Division of Narcotics in Reno from 1973-1976, a private investigator, a construction laborer, and a casino employee from 1977-1989. He graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 1989 as the Outstanding Senior in the College of Arts and Letters, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. He later earned his Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Arizona State University. Barnes has served as assistant editor fiction editor, and contributing editor for the Red Rock Review. He currently lives in Las Vegas where he teaches English and creative writing at the College of Southern Nevada. As a hiker, photographer and motorcycle enthusiast, he enjoys touring the highways of the southwest and the lure of inviting back roads.
Barnes' fiction focuses largely on working-class characters of the west and southwest, many of whom are war veterans. His narratives often deal with external events that subsume his characters as they try to deal with their sense of disaffection and negotiate a path through contemporary life. He has published five books and over 40 short stories and essays. He contributed the first chapter for Restless City, the 2009 collaborative serial novel project sponsored by the Vegas Valley Book Festival.
Barnes' short fiction has been awarded the Williamette Fiction Award, the Arizona Authors Association Fiction Award, and the Clackamas Literary Review Fiction Award. Gunning for Ho, his first book, was a finalist for the Texas Institute of letters First Fiction Award. His Las Vegas novel, The Lucky, was a finalist for the Western Writers of America Fiction Award. Published by the University of Nevada Press, it was one of the Association of American University Presses' 2004 Show Winners for Book Jacket and Cover. In 2006, his short story, "The Run," was adapted into a short film by screenplay writer and director Gene Zaromski. Barnes played the role of Driver for the film. He won the 2008 War Poetry Contest, sponsored by Winning Writers, for two poems: Firefight and Sticking Points.
The term "Sagebrush School" refers to a group of writers in the Virginia City area during the time period 1859-1914. Although they were primarily journalists, they frequently branched out into other creative forms and sometimes gained fame in their later literary careers. The most famous was Mark Twain, who developed his trademark style on the Comstock under the tutelage of accomplished and versatile Nevada writers.
Sagebrush writing reflects and often embellishes the Nevada experience of cosmopolitan mining booms, frontier justice, and harsh and dramatic landscapes. It is a principled literary movement that often reveals the writers' comradery. Sagebrush journalism upheld a code of honor in crusading against corruption and injustice. According to the scholar Dr. Lawrence Berkove, characteristics of the Sagebrush School are "fascination with hoaxes, delight in wit, audacity, and an irreverent attitude towards inflated authority and outworn tradition."
Sagebrush writers Mark Twain, Dan De Quille and Alfred Doten have been previously inducted into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame. 2009 celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Comstock Lode and a revival of interest in the Sagebrush School of writers. In recognition of the significant contributions of the authors Samuel Post Davis, Joseph Thompson Goodman, Rollin Mallory Daggett, Charles Carroll Goodwin, James W. Gally, Fred H. Hart, Arthur McEwen, Henry Rust Mighels, Denis E. McCarthy, James Townsend, Thomas Fitch, and the many other writers whose work has yet to be excavated from the archives, the Sagebrush School has been selected to be inducted into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame. They were an extraordinary cast of characters who created a distinctive early voice in our national literature -- with lasting (if hitherto unacknowledged) influence.
2008 - Sally Denton
Sally Denton was born in Elko, Nevada, and started writing when she was eight. She attended the University of Nevada, Reno, from 1970-72 before obtaining her B.A. from the University of Colorado, Boulder, in 1974. She was married to her first husband, Robert Samuel, from 1984-1995. She married Roger Morris, a former member of the National Security Council, in 1998. Her career as an investigative reporter has encompassed writing for the Rio Grande Sun in New Mexico; Jack Anderson's nationally syndicated column, "Washington Merry-Go-Round"; and the CBS affiliate WKYT-TV in Lexington, Kentucky. Her articles have been published in American Heritage, the Columbia Journalism Review, The New York Times, Penthouse, and The Washington Post. Her investigative work in Kentucky led to her first book, The Bluegrass Conspiracy: An Inside Story of Power, Greed, Drugs, and Murder. Her 2001 book, The Money and the Power: The Making of Las Vegas and Its Hold on America, 1947-2000, co-authored with her husband, was described as "... one of the most important nonfiction books published in the United States ..." by a Los Angeles Times reviewer. In 2002, the Arts & Entertainment Network developed a documentary film, Las Vegas: The Money and the Power, based upon the book, which was broadcast on the History Channel. Switching her focus to earlier western history, Faith and Betrayal: A Pioneer Woman's Passage in the American West is the story of her immigrant great-great grandmother, Jean Rio Griffith, and her disillusionment with the polygamist Mormons in Utah. Denton received a Lannan Literary grant in 2000, Western Heritage Awards in 2002 and 2004, and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2006. She was selected for the Nevada Writers' Hall of Fame Silver Pen Award in 2003. She currently lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she teaches documentary film courses at the College of Santa Fe. An environmentalist, she enjoys hiking, horseback riding and skiing amid a disciplined writing schedule and raising three sons.
2007 - Emma Sepulveda-Pulvirenti, Douglas Unger
Emma Sepulveda was born in Mendoza, Argentina, and moved with her family to Chile when she was seven. While in college, she began writing poetry and was an activist in support of Salvador Allende. In 1974, following Augusto Pinochet's 1973 military coup, she left Chile before graduating and came to the United States. Teaching herself English, she completed her BA and MA degrees at the University of Nevada, Reno. In 1987, she earned her Ph.D. in Latin American and Peninsular literature at the University of California, Davis and joined the faculty of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at the University of Nevada, Reno. She was the first Latina to become a full professor at UNR.
She is a political activist, poet, columnist, photographer, literary critic, and art entrepreneur. In 1993, she was awarded the Thornton Peace Prize by the University of Nevada, Reno for her work with Chilean women's groups. In 1994, she was appointed to the United States Hispanic Task Force, which advises the U. S. Senate. That year, she also became the first Latina to run for the Nevada state senate. In 1995, she founded the non-profit Latinos for Political Education and has chaired Nevada Hispanic Services. She became a columnist for the Reno Gazette-Journal in 1996. In 1997, she received the first Woman of the Year Award for Literature from the GEMS International Television Network. In 1998, the Nevada Women's Fund has recognized her as a Woman of Achievement. In 2000, she received the Silver Pen Award sponsored by the Friends of the University Library. In 2003, she participated as a panelist on C-SPAN's First Person Festival of Memoir in the Arts, which was co-sponsored by the World Affairs Council and the Blue Sky Arts Foundation. Also in 2003, she was the first Latina to be named a Foundation Professor by the University. In 2004, she founded the Latino Research Center at the University of Nevada, Reno and serves as its Director. In 2005, she won the Nevada Governor's Art Award. Also in 2005, she and Allyson Adams opened the Medio Mundo gallery for women's art in Reno. In 2007, she received the W. Clark Santini Cup. She is a member of the Nevada Latino Leadership Advisory Committee and received the University of Nevada, Reno's Dean's Award for Service in 2008. On April 27, 2008, actress Yolanda Vasquez read Sepulveda's poem, "September 11th 1973, Santiago Chile" as part of the "Words and Music" program on BBC Radio. In October 2009, Senator Harry Reid appointed Sepulveda to the National Museum of the American Latino Commission. In November 2009, she received the Mujer Award from the National Hispanic Leadership Institute in recognition of her national and international human rights activism and academic scholarship. Her research interests include contemporary Latin American and Spanish poetry and testimonial literature.
Douglas Arthur Unger was born in Moscow, Idaho, on June 27, 1952, and spent some summers working on his father's ranches in Colorado and South Dakota. When he was 16, he was awarded an American Field Service scholarship for a year of study in Buenos Aires, Argentina, during 1969-70. In 1971, he studied German language and culture at the Goethe Institute in Blaubeuren, Germany. While a student at the University of Chicago, he was an antiwar activist and became the managing editor of the Chicago Review. In 1973, he received the University of Chicago's Olga and Paul Menn Foundation Award for writing along with his B.A. degree. He received a Teaching-Writing Fellowship at the University of Iowa for 1975-76. He was Assistant Editor at The Iowa Review and obtained his MFA in Fiction at the University of Iowa's Iowa Writer's Workshop in 1977. Then he and his wife, Amy Burk Unger, moved to Washington state, where he worked as a commercial fisherman until they moved to his wife's family's homestead farm. From 1981-1983, he was the Arts journalist and theater critic for The Bellingham Herald (Washington State) and Friday Magazine for Gannett Newspapers. Also during the 1980s, he worked as a photographer and a stringer journalist for UPI and wrote for the PBS program the MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour. He also completed coursework toward a master's degree in Theater at Western Washington University before joining the English Department faculty at Syracuse University in 1983. He directed its Creative Writing Program in 1984-85. He received the Society of Midland Authors Award in 1984 for his first novel, Leaving the Land, which was a finalist for the 1985 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. He also received a Special Citation, P.E.N. Ernest Hemingway Award for Leaving the Land in 1985. That same year, he received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship to support his writing. In 1989, a Fulbright Comparative Literature Fellowship enabled him to teach at universities in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay. He is an occasional book reviewer for the New York Times and other publications. In 1991, he became a member of the faculty of the English Department at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. In 1996, he became a full member in the Writers Guild of America-West, received the (Washington State) Governor's Writer's Award for Leaving the Land, and became one of the first writers to be selected for the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame Silver Pen Award. Since 2001, he has been the Director of its international MFA program in creative writing, which he co-founded with Richard Wiley. He is currently a member of UNLV's Cultural Studies Committee and its Latin American Studies Committee. He has served on the editorial boards of several university presses. In 2003, he was a judge for New Zealand's Schaeffer Literature Prize, and was a 2004 judge for New Zealand's Prize in Modern Letters award. The State of Nevada, Board of Regents, selected him for the Creative Activity Award & Medal in 2005. Unger is on the Advisory Board of the Cities of Refuge - North America for dissident writers.
2006 - Ann Ronald
Ann Ronald enjoyed outdoor sports while growing up in Seattle, where she graduated from Roosevelt High School. After obtaining her 1961 B.A. from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, she taught in high school before pursuing graduate degrees in English. She received her M.A. degree in 1966 at the University of Colorado and completed her Ph.D. in Victorian literature at Northwestern University in 1970. At that point, she determined to return to the West and joined the University of Nevada, Reno faculty as assistant professor of English. During her 30+ year career at the University, she taught American and British literature and nature writing and rose to the rank of full professor. She served as Chair of the English Department, Acting Dean of the Graduate School, and Dean of the College of Arts and Science. Focusing her research and writing on landscape, she is recognized as a founding contributor to the field of ecocriticism. She received the Western Literature Association's Wylder Award for Distinguished Service in 1999. She was named a University Foundation Professor in 2001 and earned the University's Outstanding Researcher award in 2005. Following her retirement, she continues to enjoy outdoor adventures. On February 27, 2011, gave a presentation on her new book, Friendly Fallout 1953, as part of the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center's second season of "Small Talk, Big Ideas - Conversations with University Authors" programming.
2005 - Phyllis Barber, Richard Wiley
Phyllis N. Barber was born in Nevada and grew up in Boulder City and Las Vegas. She can trace her family's Nevada roots to the 1860s. Trained as a classical pianist, she has served on the Board of Directors for the Utah Symphony. She later worked as a feature writer for the Utah Holiday magazine. She received a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from Vermont College and has taught in its Writing Program. Her autobiography, How I Got Cultured, won the 1991 Association of Writers & Writing Programs Prize for Creative Nonfiction and the 1993 Award for Best Autobiography from the Association of Mormon Letters. In 1984, she co-founded the Writers at Work non-profit literary organization in Park City, Utah.
Her short story, "Wild Sage," received Special Mention in Pushcart Prize XIII (1988-89). Two of her short stories won third prize in the Dialogue Writing Awards - Fiction: "The Whip: A Mormon Folktale" in 1986 and "Bird of Paradise" in 1991. Another short story, "Mormon Levis," won first prize in the 1996 Brookie and D. K. Brown Memorial Fiction Contest. She currently lives in Utah. Her spiritual autobiography, To the Mountain, was published in 2014.
Richard Wiley was born in Fresno, California, and grew up in Tacoma, Washington. He graduated from the University of Puget Sound and obtained a Master of Arts degree at Sophia University in Tokyo, later studying in the prestigious Iowa Writer's Workshop and receiving a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing-fiction from the University of Iowa. From 1967-69, he served in Korea as a Peace Corps volunteer. In the mid-1980s, he was the bilingual coordinator for the Tacoma Public Schools and later the executive director of the Association of International Schools of Africa in Nairobi, Kenya. He has also lived in Japan and Nigeria. He has been a creative writing professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas since 1989. His World War II novel, Soldiers in Hiding, resulted in his becoming the first novelist to receive the Pen/Faulkner Award for Best American Fiction (1987). In 1999, he was awarded the Maria Thomas Fiction Award for Ahmed's Revenge by the Peace Corps Writers. His novel Commodore Perry's Minstrel Show, was published in 2007. Wiley co-founded the Creative Writing MFA Program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with Douglas Unger. He also co-founded the International Institute of Modern Letters, headquartered at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and is its director of publications. In 2006, he retired from the Executive Board of the North American Network of Cities of Asylum (NANCA), which provides refuge for persecuted writers.
2004 - William L. Fox, Hal Rothman
William Lyman Fox, an art critic, artist, author, cultural geographer, editor and poet, was born in San Diego, California, on November 26, 1949, and moved to Reno when he was ten. His first chapbook of poetry, Iron Wind, was published when he was a senior at Claremont McKenna College, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1971. He has used the pseudonym Ian Tarnman for some of his writing. After working as the overseas editor for the New Zealand literary magazine Edge from 1969-1972, he took over the West Coast Poetry Review in Reno in 1972 from founder William Ransom and worked as its publisher and editor until 1993. His poems have been published in many literary magazines, including Counter/Measures, The Dragonfly, Ghost Dance, Out of Sight, Pebble, Poetry Australia, the Tennessee Poetry Journal, and Three Rivers Poetry Journal. In 1979, he was the Associate Director of the Reno Sierra Nevada Museum of Art (now the Nevada Museum of Art) and served as the Executive Director of the Nevada Council on the Arts (now the Nevada Arts Council) from 1984-1993. He ran the poetry program at the Squaw Valley Community of Creative Arts and has been a consultant to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies and the National Endowment on the Arts. He has been a judge for the SouthWest Literary Center's Discovery Competition in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and has also coordinated the Western States Book Award. An editor of several books, he has served as an editorial consultant to the University of Nevada Press. His art has been exhibited in seven countries. In 2009, he became the director of the Nevada Museum of Art's new Center for Art + Environment.
While living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Fox was the co-curator of the SITE Santa Fe Literary Series, which was funded by the Lannan Foundation. A recognized Antarctic scholar, he was a participant in the National Science Foundation's Antarctic Visiting Artists and Writers Program in 2001-02 and has worked as a member of the NASA Haughton-Mars Project. He received the Wilbur S. Shepperson Book Award from the Nevada Humanities Committee and the University of Nevada Press in 2002 for Playa Works. He received a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship for Antarctic studies in 2002-03 and a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship, and has been a visiting scholar at the Getty Research Institute, the National Museum of Australia, and the University of Nevada, Reno. Terra Antarctica: Looking Into the Emptiest Continent was a finalist for ForeWord magazine's Book of the Year award. The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute awarded him a fellowship in 2006. In 2007, he was the first Visiting Distinguished Scholar at California State University, Dominguez Hills.
Hal Rothman was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on August 11, 1958, and grew up in Illinois. In high school he was a three-sport letter man and graduated at age 16. He interrupted his undergraduate education to spend five years working as a roadie for various rock 'n' roll bands. He earned his B.A. degree at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 1980 and a M.A. degree in literature at the University of Texas at Austin in 1982. His 1985 doctoral dissertation at UT-Austin was a cultural history of the American national monuments. During this time, he taught part-time at the University of New Mexico campuses in Albuquerque and Los Alamos and wrote a book about Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico. This led to his writing other congressionally mandated histories of national parks and working as a contract historian for the National Park Service. While an assistant professor of history at Wichita State University from 1987 to 1992, he launched a public history program aimed at involving non-academics with historic preservation. He was an editor and writer for the Development of Western Resources series for the University Press of Kansas and was on the editorial board for the New Mexico Historical Review. He was also editor of the journal Environmental History and served on the board of the Forest History Society. He joined the History Department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 1992, when it began its doctoral program in western history, and served as Department Chair from 2002 to 2005. He made significant contributions to the field of environmental history and was an active member of the American Historical Association's Pacific Coast Branch. As a nationally recognized expert on tourism and post-industrial economies, he was widely quoted by journalists, an invited guest for many national media programs, appeared in documentaries about Las Vegas, and was dubbed by Slate Magazine as "the foremost guru of the new Las Vegas." He began hosting the weekly "Our Metropolis" radio show on KUNV-FM in 2004. He was a columnist for Window from 1982-85, for the Austin Chronicle from 1984-85, for High Country News, Las Vegas CityLife, the Las Vegas Sun, and The Los Angeles Times. He also did blog work for newwest.net. In 2006, the Nevada Press Association awarded him first place for Best Explanatory Journalism and Best Local Nonstaff Column for his Las Vegas Sun work.
Rothman was a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow in 1986. The National Council on Public History selected his article, "Forged by One Man's Will" for its G. Wesley Johnson Award in 1987. In 1992, UNLV's College of Arts and Letters recognized him with its William Morris Award for Excellence in Scholarship. He received the Spur Award for Best Contemporary Nonfiction from the Western Writers of America in 1999 for Devil's Bargains. The Texas Philosophical Society honored him with its Award of Merit for Best Book in Texas History in 2001 for Our Heart's Home. Also in 2001, he received the UNLV Alumni Association's Distinguished Scholar Award. In 2004, he became the third UNLV professor to receive the Harry Reid Silver State Research Award. In 2006, he was named UNLV's fourteenth Distinguished Professor. Also in 2006, he received the American Society for Environmental History's Distinguished Service Award. Later that year, he was honored as Chin's Humanitarian of the Year. He posthumously received the Community Achievement Award by the Nevada Broadcasters Association in September 2007.
Rothman was an active member of the Midbar Kodesh Temple, which he helped found in Henderson, Nevada. A bicycle enthusiast, he also helped establish the Paseo Verde Little League, a community bicycle committee. He was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease) in December 2005, and died on February 25, 2007. He was survived by his wife, Lauralee Paige, his son Brent and his daughter Talia; his parents, Neal and Rozann Rothman of Indianapolis, and two sisters. As a testimony to his effectiveness as a teacher and mentor, a group of his graduate students undertook the completion of five of his research projects after his death, ensuring their publication.
2003 - Dave Hickey, John H. Irsfeld
Dave Hickey, recipient of a 2001 MacArthur Fellows Program "Genius Award," is recognized internationally as a critic of art and culture. He was born on December 5, 1940, in Fort Worth, Texas, and grew up in Texas and California, graduating from high school when he was 15. He obtained a BA from Texas Christian University in 1961 and an MA in linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin in 1963. In 1967, he and his first wife, Mary Jane Taylor, opened the A Clean Well-Lighted Place Gallery in Austin, Texas. They moved to New York City in 1971, where he became director for the Reese Palley Gallery, Executive Editor for Art in America, and a freelance writer. He lived in Nashville, Tennessee, during the late 1970s, where he was a staff songwriter for Glaser Publications, a musician, and a country music and rock journalist.
His nonfiction career includes being art critic for Rolling Stone and The Texas Observer, and Contributing Editor for Art Issues (Los Angeles), Context, Parkett, and The Village Voice. His column, "Simple Hearts," was published in Art Issues. Judges for San Antonio's 2006 Contemporary Art Month festival created and bestowed The Hickey Award for Bravery and the Double Hickey Award for Excellence.
Hickey has staged exhibits across the USA, winning the Association of International Critics of Art's Kunsthalle Best Show 2001-2002 Award for "Beau Monde," the fourth "Site Santa Fe" biennial exhibition in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He has lectured at many museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, and the Institute of Contemporary Art in London. He has been a visiting professor at several universities, including the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, the Otis Parsons Institute in Los Angeles, and the University of Texas at Austin. Hickey received the College Art Association's Frank Jewett Mather award for distinction in art or architectural criticism in 1993. He was the 1997 Cullinan Visiting Chair of Architecture at Rice University in Houston, Texas. He has been a faculty member of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas since 1992, where he has taught art theory, art criticism, and creative writing, and is the Schaeffer Professor of Modern Letters.
John Henry Irsfeld was born in Bemidji, Minnesota, and grew up mostly in Mineral Wells, Texas. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts in 1959 at the University of Texas at Austin, and then taught high school Spanish and English in Calallen, Texas, before serving in the U.S. Army Infantry from 1961-1964. While in the military, he taught ESL at Fort Buchanan in Puerto Rico. He then returned to UT-Austin, where he earned his Master of Arts (1966) and Ph. D. (1969) degrees in English and American literature. He became a member of the English Department faculty at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, in 1969, becoming a full professor in 1977, and is a specialist in creative writing, non-fiction, poetry and poetics, classical literature in translation, the history of literary criticism, and theories of literary modernism. His teaching interests also included the film and literature of war.
During his career at UNLV, he twice served as Chair of the English Department, from 1977-1984 and from 2000-2004. From 1977-1984, he served as Acting Dean of the College of Arts and Letters during the Dean's absences from campus. He also served as Deputy to the University President (1987-1994), Vice President of the University from 1990-1994, and Corporate Secretary of the UNLV Foundation (1987-1994). He is a member of the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association and the Modern Language Association of America. He was a member of the University of Nevada Press Editorial Advisory Board from 1985-1994, a member of its Executive Committee from 1985-1988, and was Chairman of its Executive Board from 1988-1990. He was a member of the Nevada Humanities Committee from 1981-1987.
As Senior Editor, he wrote the monthly column "On the Other Hand" for The Las Vegan city magazine from November 1980 to May 1985. He then wrote the monthly column "Commentary" for LV The Magazine of Las Vegas from August 1985 to August 1987. He served on the advisory board for the American Literary Review: A National Journal of Poems and Stories, published by the University of North Texas, from 1990-1997, and for New Texas 98in 1998.
He was the recipient of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Barrick Scholar Award for 1985-1986. In 1994, he received the Nevada Governor's Arts Award for Excellence in the Arts. He was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters in 1998. He received the 2007-2008 Rita Deanin Abbey Excellence in Teaching Award at UNLV. He collaborated with six other southern Nevada writers to create a serial mystery novel, Restless City, for the 2009 Vegas Valley Book Festival.
2002 - Tom Meschery
Tom Meschery is a graduate of St. Mary's College, Moraga, CA. After graduation, he was drafted by the Philadelphia Warriors in the 1961 NBA Draft. He also played for the Philadelphia 76ers and The Seattle SuperSonics during his professional basketball career. After retiring as a player, he briefly became head coach of the Carolina Cougars. After being released from his job with the Cougars, he returned to school, receiving his M.F.A. degree from the and the University of Iowa. He has written several books of sports related poetry and other works related to his time playing basketball. He received teaching credentials at University of Nevada, Reno, and taught English at Reno High School.
2001 - Morris Brownell, Robert Gorrell, Rollan Melton
Morris Brownell was born in Boston, MA and was educated at Princeton and the University of California at Berkely before becoming a professor of English at the University of Nevada, Reno. Brownell was a researcher and biographer of 18th century figures and life. His academic career also includes teaching at Tufts, Cornell and St. Edmund Hall, Oxford University. He was named University of Nevada, Reno Foundation Professor of English in 1989 and Outstanding Researcher in 1990. His book The Prime Minister of Taste: A Portrait of Horace Walpole was nominated for a National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize.
Robert Gorrell influenced thousands of students at the University of Nevada, Reno and across the country with the publication of the Modern English Handbook. Penned with Department of English colleague Charlton Laird, the Modern English Handbook was one of the most successful texts of its kind. Gorrell's career at the University began in 1945. Over the next 35 years, he was an English professor, department chairperson in English, dean of the College of Arts and Science and vice president for academic affairs. Growing up in Indiana, he had been a newspaper writer and printer. Early in his career he was a Fulbright lecturer at universities in Sydney and Helsinki. From 1982-1995, he published a weekly column on English usage in the Reno Gazette-Journal, and in 2000 at the age of 86, he published his first novel, Murder the Rose. His honors include National Council of Teachers of English Distinguished Lecturer; Nevada Humanities Committee Distinguished Scholar and Humanist; and the University of Nevada Distinguished Faculty Award.
Rollan Melton grew up in Fallon, Nevada and graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno. At 15 he began working as a printer's devil and club reporter at the Fallon Standard. He joined the Reno Evening Gazette as a sports editor in 1957, becoming publisher of both the Gazette and the Nevada State Journal in 1966. In 1972 he became president of the Speidel newspaper group, and was named senior vice president of Gannett newspaper chain when it merged with Speidel in 1977. He resigned from his position in 1979, but continued to write his column until his death in 2002.
2000 - Bernard Schopen, Sally Zanjani
Bernard (Bernie) Schopen was born in Deadwood, South Dakota, and attended Black Hills State College. He earned both his B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Washington in English literature. He then earned his Ph.D. from the University of Nevada, Reno, and has taught at UNR since 1990, primarily in the Core Humanities program (Western Traditions).. He designed and teaches the online versions of the Core Humanities curriculum for the Office of Extended Studies. He is best known for his three mysteries, all set in Nevada, featuring Reno detective, Jack Ross. They are: The Big Silence, The Desert Look, and The Iris Deception. In addition, he has written a critical book on mystery writer Ross Macdonald. In 2007, he received the Alan Bible Teaching Excellence Award for the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Science. Also in 2007, he was recognized as "Best Novelist" in the annual Best of Northern Nevada feature by Reno News & Review.
Sally Springmeyer Zanjani is the granddaughter of Carson Valley pioneer Herman H. Springmeyer. She is a graduate of New York University, where she also obtained her Master of Arts and PhD degrees. She was affiliated with the University of Nevada, Reno, Department of Political Science from 1975-2009.
Besides publishing ten books about Western history, she has been involved with the production of several documentary films about Nevada history. She is a past President of the Mining History Association and has been associated with the Nevada Women's History Project. She is a member of the Western History Association and Western Writers of America.
In 1992, she won a Cofounders Award: Westerners International for Goldfield: The Last Gold Rush on the Western Frontier. In 1997 she was honored by the Nevada Women's History Project. In 1999 she received the Rodman Paul Award for Outstanding Contributions to Mining History. In 2001, she received the Evans Biography Award and the Cofounders Award: Westerners International for the biography Sarah Winnemucca. She has written numerous articles on Nevada history and reviewed many books about Western history for various scholarly journals.
1999 - Adrian Louis, Joanne Meschery
Adrian C. Louis was born in Lovelock, Nevada, and is an enrolled member of the Lovelock Paiute Indian Tribe. His first poem was published in 1963, when he was a junior in high school. He obtained a B.A. in American Literature from Brown University, where he also earned an M.A. in its Creative Writing Program. He later did post-graduate work at the University of Nevada, Reno. In 1982, he became editor of Talking Leaf, The Los Angeles Indian Newspaper, until joining the faculty at Oglala Lakota College on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota from 1984-1997. In the mid-1980s, he was also publisher and managing editor of the Lakota Times, the largest American Indian newspaper. A co-founder of the Native American Press Association, he was elected its first President in 1984. He also served as editor of Indian Country Today. The National Indian Media Consortium nominated him twice for Print Journalist of the Year. He was a Professor of English at Minnesota State University in Marshall from 1999-2014. His first novel, Skins, was recognized as "the first major novel of reservation life to be written from inside the reservation." The film adaptation of Skins received the Best Actor Award for Graham Greene at the Tokyo International Film Festival in 2002. His 2006 collection of poems, Logorrhea, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Three of his poems were included in the bilingual Contemporary American Poetry (2009), a collaboration between the Pakistan Academy of Letters and the National Endowment for the Arts, marking the first literary exchange between the two countries at the government level.
The recipient of two Pushcart Prizes, he has been awarded fellowships from the South Dakota, the Bush Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. His 1989 book Fire Water World won the San Francisco State University Poetry Center Book Award. He also won the Lila Wallace–Reader's Digest Writer's Award. In 1993, he received a Distinguished Achievement Award from the Nebraska Arts Council. In 2001, he won the Writer of the Year [poetry] award from Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers in 2001 for Ancient Acid Flashes Back. Recent poems have been included in chapbook anthologies published by Bunchgrass Press in Columbia Basin, Washington. He has identified personal survival as the overall theme of his work.
Joanne Pritchard Meschery was born in Gorman, Texas, the daughter of a Methodist preacher, and spent her early childhood years in Boston. She knew she wanted to be a writer by the time she was six years old. Later she moved with her family to Modesto, California, and went to high school in Fallon, Nevada. In 1963, she earned her bachelor's degree at the University of Nevada, Reno. After meeting basketball player Tom Meschery in Squaw Valley in 1964, they married in 1965 and eventually had three children. They both attended the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, and she obtained her master's degree in fiction-writing at the University of Iowa. She was also a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Stanford University's Creative Writing Program. Her first novel, In A High Place, received a Commonwealth Club of California Award for Fiction. Her second novel, A Gentleman's Guide to the Frontier, was nominated for a Pen/Faulkner Award and was named a Notable Book of the year by The Nation magazine. Her third novel, Home and Away, was recognized as a Notable Book by the Book Critics Circle and the San Francisco Chronicle. It was reprinted by the University of California Press as part of its California Writers Series. Her work has been awarded two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and several grants from the California Arts Council. She taught in the MFA Creative Writing program at the University of Arkansas for eight years and then held a similar position at San Diego State University. She has directed the International Summer Writing Program at the National University of Ireland in Galway. She has participated in the Literary Women Festival and the Sierra Nevada College Lake Tahoe Reader Series. She is a member of the PEN American Center and served as a judge for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction in 1996. She has also served as a member of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers' board and has been a Visiting Distinguished Writer at several colleges and universities. Admitting that she is hooked on writing, she also enjoys the process of research for her writing projects, referring to being caught up in "the research raptures."
1998 - Frank Bergon, Russell Elliott, Mark Twain
Frank Bergon was born in Ely, Nevada, on February 24, 1943, and raised on a ranch in San Joaquin Valley, California. He received his B.A. in English from Boston College, and in 1965, he attended Stanford University as a Wallace Stegner Fellow in 1966. He was a Woodrow Wilson fellow from 1966-67, and received his Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Harvard University in 1973. He was an American Council of Learned Societies fellow from 1979-80. He is Professor Emeritus of English at Vassar College, where he joined the faculty in 1972 and taught senior composition, Native American literature, and environmental studies. During his tenure there he was Director of American Studies. He was a visiting associate professor at the University of Washington in Seattle from 1980-81. In 1985-86 he was a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow.
His writing focuses on the history and environment of the American West, particularly writing about Native Americans and Basque Americans in the West. He has published several novels and anthologies, as well as edited the Penguin Nature Classics edition of The Journals of Lewis and Clark. He and his wife have published translations of Spanish poets.
Russell R. Elliott taught school for the White Pine High County School in Ely and Southern Oregon College in Ashland. He retired as a History Professor Emeritus at the University of Nevada in Reno for 28 years. Russell received the Distinguished Nevadan honor from the University of Nevada in 1985 and an award of merit from the American Association for State and Local History for his book History of Nevada.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer. He moved west from Missouri to Nevada with his brother Orion, and documented his travels and his subsequent years living in Nevada and California in his book Roughing It. Twain also wrote for the Virginia City newspaper The Territorial Enterprise, where he met Tom Fitch, who was a lawyer and editor of the competing town newspaper, the Virginia Daily Union. Twain credited Fitch with giving his "first really profitable lecture in writing." Twain is famous for his short stories, and his classic novels like Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
1997 - James Hulse, Idah Meacham Strobridge
James Hulse has produced a series of books ranging from Nevada history to philosophical criticism. The Nevada Adventure, Hulse's popular history of his native state has remained in print for 32 years, through six editions at the University of Nevada Press where it was on the debut list in 1965. Hulse has been a newspaper journalist, teacher, scholar and political activist. Born in Pioche, Nevada, on June 4, 1930, he received a Harold's Club Scholarship and obtained his BA in Journalism from the University of Nevada in 1952 and his MA in History in 1958. While a student at the university, he wrote a column called Campus Events for the Nevada State Journal, was in a local production of Macbeth, was initiated into the Phi Kappa Phi honor society, and received the Sigma Delta Chi scholarship award for outstanding journalism graduate. When graduating in 1952, he received the A. W. (Bert) Cahlar scholarship for altruistic service, leadership, character, and for loyalty—the highest ideals and traditions of the university.
He continued to provide articles to the Nevada State Journal by correspondence while performing military service in occupied Western Germany and in France from 1952-54, then continuing as a reporter for the Nevada State Journal from 1954-58. He joined the faculty at the University of Nevada, Reno, in 1962. In 1964 he represented Washoe County on the Nevada Centennial Committee. During his academic career, he was a member of the American Historical Association, the Nevada Historical Society, the Western History Association, the Rocky Mountain Social Science Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, and the Western Slavic Association. In the 1980s he was a member of the Nevada State Advisory Board for Historic Preservation and Archeology. He was also a member of many university committees, including the Hilliard Endowment Fund Committee, the Nevada Newspaper Committee (1962-64), the Faculty Development Task Force (1977), and served as Chairman of the Graduate Council.
A political activist, he is a member of the American Civil Liberties Union and served on the Nevada Commission for Equal Rights of Citizens from 1963-65. He also participated in the Citizens Committee for a Nuclear Test Ban in 1963 and was present at the Governor's Day student protest against the Vietnam War on campus in 1970. As a leader of Common Cause in Nevada, Hulse has followed his conscience, speaking out about social injustice whenever he sees it. His interest in other moralists is reflected in the titles of some of his books: Revolutionists in London: a study of five unorthodox Socialists, (1970), and The Reputations of Socrates: The Afterlife of a Gadfly, (1995). He covered the development of industry, government and culture throughout Nevada in A Great Basin Mosaic, which was published in 2017.
Idah Strobridge was raised on a cattle ranch in Humboldt County, Nevada, and observed the changing Great Basin desert from the passing of emigrant wagon trains to the age of steam locomotives. She began to write at age 40 and she wrote about what she knew — the desert. Her desert is stark and formed from experience and personal tragedy. She saw beauty, mystery and enchantment in what she called "sagebrushland." Her works include In Miners Mirage-Land (1904), The Loom of the Desert (1907), and The Land of Purple Shadows (1909). Strobridge was also an award-winning book binder and founded the "Artemisia Bindery" in Los Angeles, California.
1996 - Barbara Land, Myrick Land, Nell Murbarger
Barbara Neblett Land a free-lance author, was born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. She graduated from the University of Miami in 1944 and obtained a master's degree from Columbia University in 1946. She worked as a reporter for the Miami Herald from 1940-1947 and then was a reporter for Life Magazine in New York City from 1948-1949. She worked in advertising for Cunningham & Walsh, Inc., in New York City before becoming a fashion reporter for the New York Times in 1955. While with the New York Times, she also wrote the "Housewives' Pulse" column. She married Myrick Land in 1949 and co-wrote several nonfiction books about Nevada with him. She has also written nonfiction books for children. She received a Pulitzer travel scholarship in 1946 and a Sloan-Rockefeller fellowship for the advanced science writing program in 1959. From 1969-1972, she worked as a reader and editor for the Book-of-the-Month Club in New York City. After tutoring in journalism at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia from 1973-1975, she became a full-time writer. While living in Reno she was a freelance writer and the "Book People" columnist for the Reno Gazette-Journal.
Myrick Ebben Land was born on February 25, 1922, in Shreveport, Louisiana. After serving in World War II in the Army Air Corps from 1942-43, he graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1945. As an undergraduate, he was a reporter and editor of the California Bruin, the UCLA student newspaper. While pursuing a master's degree at the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, he was assistant city editor for the Kingston Daily Freeman (New York) newspaper. During that time, he met Barbara Neblett, also a graduate journalism student. They both completed their master's degrees in 1946 and married in 1949. Land received a Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship for 1946-47. He spent a year teaching journalism at a school in Caracas, Venezuela, in a program sponsored by Columbia University. He worked for the American National Red Cross in Washington, D.C., as Director of Information in Europe and North Africa, from 1949 until 1952, when he became the New York City editor for Scholastic Magazines. In 1955, he became assistant editor for "This Week" and held that position until becoming the senior editor for Look Magazine from 1959-66. He became Look's assistant managing editor from 1967-1971. In the mid-1960s, the Lands worked with Robert L. Oswald, the brother of Lee Harvey Oswald, on a biography about Lee Harvey Oswald. Land also wrote hundreds of articles for national magazines during the 1950s-1970s and published several novels. In 1969, his novel, Quicksand, was nominated by Mystery Writers of America as one of the three best first mysteries, putting it into competition for the 1970 Edgar Allan Poe Award. He co-authored seven nonfiction books with his wife. The Lands lived in Australia from 1973-1975, where he taught journalism at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. He then joined the journalism faculty at the University of Nevada, Reno in 1976, but left in 1979 in protest over funding cuts by Governor Robert List. From 1979-1981, he was an associate professor of journalism at the University of Wisconsin--Oshkosh. He returned to Nevada in 1982 and taught at the Donald Reynolds School of Journalism as an associate professor until his retirement. While at the University, he also served as editor and publisher for the UNR Times and as Consulting Editor for the University's Silver & Blue magazine. During retirement, he continued to teach part-time at the University. The Lands had two children: son Robert and daughter Jacquelyn Brewer. Land died in Reno on March 25, 1998. The Myrick Land Scholarship Endowment has been established by the University of Nevada, Reno Foundation.
Nell Murbarger was born on October 19, 1909, in South Dakota and home-schooled through the eighth grade. She then attended schools in California, Oregon, South Dakota, and Washington. An outdoorswoman, she enjoyed riding horses, camping, photography, exploring the western United States, and world travel. She married Wilbur G. Murbarger in 1931 and divorced in 1939. She is credited with being the first to collect Lithophragma maximum, a member of the saxifrage family, in 1936 on San Clemente Island, the southernmost of the Channel Islands in California. She worked for several western newspapers, including the Los Angeles Examiner and the Salt Lake Tribune. She was editor for the Costa Mesa Globe Herald from 1936-39 and for the Newport-Balboa Press from 1940-45. She became a full-time free-lance writer in 1945, writing several books and approximately 1,000 magazine articles on every conceivable desert subject. Her feature stories in Desert Magazine and other periodicals popularized the hobby of "ghost-towning." She received the American Association for State and Local History Award of Merit in 1955. Her Ghosts of the Glory Trail was recognized nationally as the best nonfiction book of 1956. She was a life member of the Nevada Historical Society. She died on December 19, 1991, in California.
1995 - Ann Herbert Scott, Alfred Doten
Ann Herbert Scott was born in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, and grew up writing. Her first children's book, co-authored with a friend and never published, was written at the age of 13. Many honors and children's books followed with a hiatus to marry and raise a family. Today, Scott is one of America's foremost authors of children's literature. She deftly uses her B.A. in English (University of Pennsylvania) and M.A. in Social Ethics (Yale University) to bring both credibility and wonder to her work. Many of her books deal with western, ethnic, and rural themes.
Scott moved to Reno in 1961, when she married William Taussig Scott (1916-1999), a physics professor at the University of Nevada, Reno. Her work as an "enumerator" in the agricultural census of 1964 eventually led to her writing a history of the U. S. census, with the cooperation of the Bureau of the Census. Her novel Sam was an American Library Association Notable Book for 1967. Another of her books, On Mother's Lap, was read by Captain Kangaroo on his television program as part of the national Reading is Fundamental literacy initiative. In 1996, the paperback edition of Cowboy Country was awarded the Paren'ts Choice Silver honor. Scott is active in the Northern Nevada arts community and is the co-founder of the Annual Art of the Children's Book Festival. She and her husband were co-founders of Sierra Interfaith Action for Peace, a non-profit public benefit corporation in Washoe County, Nevada.
Alfred Doten is noted for his daily diary, considered by historians to be one of the most unique and valuable documents on the social history of the American West. A native of Plymouth, Massachusetts, Doten briefly apprenticed as a carpenter and worked as a fisherman before sailing for the gold fields of California in 1849. Over the next 14 years, he was a gold prospector, farmer, and rancher. He became an occasional correspondent for a Plymouth newspaper, and moved to Nevada's Comstock district in 1863, where he became a newspaper journalist. He was briefly a colleague of Mark Twain writing for the Virginia Daily Union and the Gold Hill Daily News, and was a close friend and drinking companion of Dan De Quille. He was the editor for the Gold Hill Daily News from 1867-1881. After buying it in 1872, he was its publisher until 1881.
Doten was active in the Republican Party in Nevada. He married Mary Stoddard in 1873, and the couple had four children. After losing the Gold Hill Daily News due to financial problems, he relocated to Austin, Nevada, and briefly edited the Reese River Reveille newspaper.
Doten began writing detailed and candid personal diaries in 1849 and continued the practice until the day he died. His journals portray the life and times of the mining frontier. They are straightforward, blunt, and often mundane, but bursting with real life. The journals fill 79 leather-bound volumes containing over a million and a half words. They were acquired by the University of Nevada, Reno in 1961. The University selected Walter Van Tilburg Clark to edit the journals, and the University Press published them in 1973. Doten was inducted into the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame by the Nevada Press Association in 2017.
1994 - Kirk Robertson, Dan De Quille
Kirk Robertson, a native of Los Angeles, was a poet, essayist, publisher, editor, and artist. He lived in Nevada since 1975. His writings have appeared in numerous anthologies, journals and magazines. He received the Water Mark Breakthrough Award in 1985 for his book of illustrations, Ar*ti*facts.
Robertson was the founder, editor, and publisher of Scree magazine and Duck Down Press in Fallon, Nevada. He was involved with the Churchill County Arts Program, the Nevada State Council on the Arts, the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and was an editor of neon, the art journal of the Nevada State Council on the Arts. His work is best described by his colleague and friend, William Fox, as following "the tradition of William Carlos Williams and Robert Creeley, the stresses of American life and language inextricably linked in a spare, unforgiving cadence...at their best his poems, won through years of painful life and thought and craft, take the heart out of you and offer it up to the clean desert sky."
Dan De Quille a.k.a William Wright was lured to the Comstock in 1857 and became Nevada's most popular writer in the 19th Century. He was a prolific and versatile story-teller and journalist best known for The Big Bonanza (1876). He was also a correspondent for a variety of popular newspapers and magazines, and is still considered the founder of the style used by present-day columnists.
Biographers Richard Dwyer and Richard Lindenfelter say De Quille "captured for posterity much of the spirit of the western mines." As the editor of Virginia City's Territorial Enterprise off and on again for more than 30 years, one of his employees was young Samuel Clemens a.k.a. Mark Twain, whose two years on the Enterprise, under De Quille's tutelage, was the turning point in Mark Twain's life. Twain said of De Quille that "the first big compliment I ever received was that I was 'almost worthy to write in the same column with Dan De Quille.'"
1993 - Stephen S.N. Liu, Sarah Winnemucca
Stephen Shu-Ning Liu was born in Fuling, China, near the Yangtze River, on March 16, 1930, the son of a hermetic painter and the grandson of a Mandarin scholar who taught him Chinese classics. After graduation from Nanjing University in 1948 and military service in the Chinese Expeditionary Army, he came to San Francisco in 1952. After earning a Ph.D.. in English from the University of North Dakota in 1973, Liu was an English professor at the Community College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas until his retirement in 2001. Liu's poetry has been published internationally, in both Chinese and English, in many literary magazines, anthologies and college texts. He was the first Nevadan to receive a Fellowship in Creative Writing from the National Endowment for the Arts (1981-82) and won a Pushcart Prize for poetry in 1982. In 1985, he won the Nevada Governor's Award for Literature. The editor of Desert Wood: An Anthology of Nevada Poets, Shaun T. Griffin, noted, "Liu's poetry is refreshingly candid, dramatic and rooted in the lyrical history of his Chinese heritage...He is surely one of the finest Chinese poets writing in English today."
Sarah Winnemucca, a granddaughter of Paiute Chief Truckee and daughter of Chief Winnemucca, was born in the Humboldt River-Pyramid Lake region at a time of great change for the Northern Paiute Nation. Introduced to Caucasians at age six, she could speak five languages by age 14, including Spanish and several Indian dialects. She became fluent in English while living for awhile with the Ormsby family at Mormon Station (now Genoa, Nevada) and took the name "Sarah" during that time. In 1871, Winnemucca began working as an interpreter for the Bureau of Indian Affairs at Fort McDermitt on the Oregon border. She married her first husband, Lt. Edward C. Bartlett, that year. When that marriage ended, she rejoined her tribe at the Malheur Reservation in Oregon, where she worked as an interpreter and teacher's aid from 1875 to 1878. Her experiences with the U.S. Government, losing relatives during the 1878 Bannock War, and the forced relocation of the Northern Paiute people to various reservations compelled Winnemucca to dedicate the remainder of her life to bettering the lives of her people. Following an oral tradition, Winnemucca gave more than 400 speeches to gain support for the Paiutes. She went to Washington, D.C. in 1880, representing the Kuyuidika-a band of Paiutes that lived around Pyramid Lake, and met with President Rutherford Hayes and Secretary of the Interior Charles Schurz to lobby for the release of the Paiutes from confinement on the Yakama Reservation in Washington Territory. Later she founded an innovative, bilingual, non-government school for Native American children in Lovelock, Nevada.
Her autobiography, Life Among the Piutes, was the first ever written and published by a Native American woman. She is considered one of the most influential and charismatic Native American women in history. She died at Henry's Lake, Idaho, on October 14, 1891, thinking herself a failure because the U.S. Government broke its promises concerning her tribe. She was the first woman to be honored with a Nevada state historic marker. In 1994, she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York. Also that year, the Washoe County School District named the Sarah Winnemucca Elementary School in her honor. "It Can Be Done," a documentary prepared for the Nevada Experience program for Channel 5 PBS, was first broadcast in 1994.
In 1864, Congress established the National Statuary Hall in the Old Hall of the House of Representatives in the United States Capitol and authorized each state to contribute two statues of its distinguished citizens to the collection. Pursuant to Nevada Assembly Bill no. 267 of 2001, the Nevada Dept. of Cultural Affairs and the Nevada Women's History Project worked to have a statue of Sarah Winnemucca placed in the National Statuary Hall Collection in Washington, D.C. In April 2003, Nevada First Lady Dema Guinn invited the Nevada Women's History Project to hold a "Pink Tea" at the Governor's Mansion in Carson City to raise funds for the Sarah Winnemucca statue. Sculptor Benjamin Victor, the recipient of a Jean Ford Research Grant, was commissioned to create the bronze statue for the U. S. Capitol's National Statuary Hall. The dedication ceremony for the statue was held at the National Statuary Hall on March 9, 2005. The Spanish Springs Library in Sparks, Nevada, was presented with two statues of Winnemucca on October 30, 2005.
1992 - A. Wilber Stevens, Lucius Beebe
A. Wilber Stevens was born in Brooklyn, New York, on August 16, 1921, and is considered one of Nevada's finest and most influential poets. His poetry, which was published in many small literature magazines, goes to places even the most unfamiliar reader understands: the late-night desperation seen in city faces and long laments on the slowly disappearing western landscape. He was respected as a poet, editor, scholar and professor of English at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He served as Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association in 1972 and also taught literature at universities in Idaho, Thailand, Burma, and Brazil. He was the founding editor of Interim, a poetry and fiction journal, and was a long-time drama critic for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He also was a reviewer for Billboard magazine. After retiring in 1994, he died in Las Vegas in 1996.
Lucius Morris Beebe was born on December 9, 1902, to a prosperous family in Wakefield, MA. He obtained his preliminary education at St. Mark's School in Southboro, Massachusetts. He won the Richard Memorial Prize for poetry in 1923 from Yale but was expelled in 1925. He graduated from Harvard in 1927 and remained to study poetry as a graduate student for a year while also becoming a correspondent for The New York Evening Post and a feature writer for The Boston Telegram. He then began work in literary journalism for the Boston Evening Transcript and, in 1929, The New York Herald Tribune, where he remained on staff until 1950. In 1934, he began writing a syndicated column for The New York Herald called "This New York," documenting the affluent Cafe Society he is credited with creating amid the Great Depression. He was featured on a 1939 cover of Life magazine and was known in social circles as "Mr. New York." He was a member of Chi Delta Theta, The Players, and the Coffee House Club of New York City, as well as an honorary member of Princeton University's Triangle Club. In 1940, he met Charles M. Clegg, Jr., who became his long-time companion and business partner in, for their era, an unusually open gay relationship. He was immortalized by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart in the song "Zip" for the musical "Pal Joey," which opened on Broadway in 1940.
Beebe was a member of the Wine and Food Society of America and Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, an international organization celebrating French wines, and was invited to the first meeting of Les Amis de Gastronome in Las Vegas in 1960. He wrote the column, "Along the Boulevards," for Gourmet for over twenty years. Beebe came to Nevada in 1940 to review the premier of the film Virginia City at Piper's Opera House. In 1949, Beebe and Clegg moved to Virginia City, where they purchased and restored the Piper family home and later purchased the dormant Territorial Enterprise. Beebe re-launched the newspaper in 1952, and by 1954, the Enterprise had the highest circulation in the West for a weekly newspaper. He and Clegg co-wrote the "That Was the West" series, providing historical essays for the newspaper.
Beebe and Clegg selected and wrote sketches for the 1949 Nevada Day Pageant in Carson City, which was enjoyed by standing-room only audiences. He was appointed by the governor of Nevada to be a member of the Nevada State Centennial Committee (1958) and was Chairman of the Silver Centennial Monument Committee (1958), groups that planned events honoring Nevada's and Virginia City's history. He also served on the Nevada State Board of Economic Development.
A member of the Railroad and Locomotive Historical Society, Beebe gained recognition as a train photographer. He and Clegg owned two of the last private railroad cars, the Gold Coast and the Virginia City, and co-produced more than thirty books on American railroads and Western Americana. Beebe also wrote for such national magazines as American Heritage, Gourmet, Holiday, Newsweek, Playboy, and Saturday Review. Beebe and Clegg sold their interest in the Territorial Enterprise in 1960 and moved to San Francisco, where Beebe became an editor for the San Francisco Chronicle, writing a weekly column, "This Wild West," until his death.
1991 - Wilbur Shepperson, Will James
Wilbur Stanley Shepperson completed his Ph.D. from Western Reserve University. He then came to the University of Nevada, Reno's Department of History, where he taught from 1951-1991. He wrote the first book imprinted by the University of Nevada Press, which he helped establish. He was a Fulbright scholar at Liverpool and was the first recipient of the Grace A. Griffen Chair in History and a recipient of the Outstanding Faculty Award. He was on the board of trustees for the Nevada Historical Society, which named its exhibit hall the Wilbur S. Shepperson Gallery in his honor. He was the founder and editor of Halcyon: A Journal of the Humanities. He edited a series of volumes on history and political science for the University of Nevada Press, named the Wilbur S. Shepperson Series in History and Humanities in his honor. He was both a host of and guest speaker for the radio series Nevada, One of Fifty, produced by the University of Nevada, Reno in 1976. He helped create the Nevada Humanities Committee, which established the annual Wilbur S. Shepperson Humanities Book Award in his honor. In 1993, the Department of History at the University of Nevada, Reno established the Wilbur S. Shepperson Endowed Scholarship in memory of his many contributions to higher education and culture in Nevada.
Will James was born Joseph Ernest Nephtali Dufault in St. Nazaire de Acton, Quebec, Canada. He began working as a cowboy as a teenager. In 1910, he entered the United States with a new name: William Roderick James. By 1914, he was working in Nevada, where he was arrested for rustling cattle. He served his sentence from 1915-16 at the Nevada State Prison at Carson City, taking care of the facility's horses. He then worked as a stunt man in western movies and served in the U. S. Army from 1918-19. He was a horse wrangler for the First Annual Nevada Round-Up in Reno in July 1919. He married Alice Conradt, a Reno native, on July 7, 1920.
His western drawings and short stories began to appear in national magazines, including Red Book, Saturday Evening Post, and Scribner's Magazine. The Drifting Cowboy, a collection of magazine stories, settled him as a professional writer and enabled him to buy a small ranch on Franktown Road in Washoe Valley, Nevada, where he and his wife lived from 1923-1927. James is best known for the beloved Smoky, The Cow Horse, which won the coveted Newberry Medal for children's literature in 1927 and has been made into several movies. James narrated the 1933 film. The novel won the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, given by the University of Wisconsin, in 1965. His invented autobiography, Lone Cowboy, was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection and bestseller. Gregory Peck starred in the 1971 motion picture adaptation, Shoot Out. The largest public collection of James' writings, drawings, paintings and personal effects is at the Yellowstone Art Museum in Billings, Montana, where James had a ranch.
1990 - Hart Wegner, Virginia Coffman, Charlton Laird
Hart Lothar Wegner was born in the Silesia region of Poland, and educated in Europe and at the University of Utah and Harvard University in the United States. His American works include numerous pieces of fiction in literary journals and book reviews in scholarly journals. Wegner is a professor of German, Comparative Literature, and Film Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He has also served as Chair of its Film Department. In the late 1960s, he founded the free Thursday-night International Film Series at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He received the Pushcart Prize for 1984/85 and the Charles Vanda Prize for Excellence in the Arts at UNLV in 1989. He was honored with the University of Nevada Regents' Award for Creative Activities in 1994. He also received the William Morris Award for Excellence in Teaching. He serves on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Religion & Film.
Virginia Coffman contributed movie reviews to the Oakland Tribune from 1933-40. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1938 and was a movie and television script writer for Columbia, RKO, and other Hollywood studios in her early writing career (1944-56). She had her first success with writing novels in 1959, when Crown Publishing decided to take a chance on Moura, and the novel was showcased by Library Journal. By the 1980s, Coffman was recognized as "the author largely responsible for setting off the Gothics craze of the 1960s, "earning her the reputation of "Queen of the Gothics."
She quit her day job in Reno and became a full-time writer in 1965. While historical romance novels seldom find their way into the literary canon, Coffman, who was both prolific and dedicated, took her writing seriously. Her research for historical fiction was meticulous. She also drew upon personal experience as a world traveler when setting some of her novels in Hawaii, Paris, and other romantic locales. Several of her historical romances and gothic mystery novels were translated into other languages, and many have been published in large print and audio editions.
She was recognized by Who's Who of American Women and Who's Who in the West. She was a member of the Authors League of America and the Mystery Writers Guild of America. The Reno Gazette-Journal featured Virginia Coffman and her sister, a Reno artist, in a biographical story in 2002. In 2003, she donated a collection of her gothic mystery and historical romance novels to the University of Nevada, Reno Libraries. She died on March 31, 2005, in Reno.
Charlton (Larry) Laird was a scholar, linguist, poet, novelist, nonfiction writer, editor and a teacher. He was born in Nashua, Iowa. While an undergraduate at the University of Iowa, he was a varsity fencer and worked as both an itinerant wheat harvester and summer preacher in the Midwest. He worked as manager of the News Bureau for the Des Moines Register & Tribune in 1926 and also became Head of the Dept. of Journalism for Drake University in Des Moines that year. He was a member of Sigma Delta Chi, an honorary journalistic society, which is now the Society of Professional Journalists. After further education at Columbia, Stanford and Yale Universities, he came to the University of Nevada, Reno in 1943 as head of the Department of English. Laird was instrumental in the German-born composer Max Urban's decision to move from Mexico to Reno, Nevada. Laird's wife, Helene, wrote lyrics for several of Urban's songs, and Urban composed music for several songs and musical plays written by Laird. Laird's love of language is evident in his numerous books, papers and speeches that turn highly specialized scholarly research into lively reading for the intelligent layman. He was active in the National Council of Teachers of English, sharing in a speech at their 1968 conference, "A good teacher of literature resembles a poem ...".
1989 - Sessions Wheeler, Joanne de Longchamps
Sessions "Buck" Wheeler was born in Fernley when Nevada's population was about 80,000. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Nevada, Reno. He served as the first Director of the Nevada State Fish and Game Commission from 1947-50. As a writer, teacher and biologist, he received many awards and spent his life recording what he knew about his beloved Nevada. Wheeler spent his life as a biology and conservation teacher at Fernley High School (1935), Reno High School (1936-1966), UNR, and the University of Southern California. In 1962, the National Association of Biology Teachers named him the Outstanding Biology Teacher of Nevada. He was awarded the University of Nevada Distinguished Nevadan Award in 1963.
Joanne de Longchamps grew up in Los Angeles and studied art and music in France. She came to Reno in 1941 after marrying mining engineer Galen Edward de Longchamps. She pursued her interests in poetry and art at the University of Nevada, Reno, and began publishing artwork and poems in regional and national magazines and literary journals. She was a member of the Poetry Society of America, winning its Reynolds Lyric award in 1954. Her paintings and collages were exhibited at local and regional shows. She received the Carolina Quarterly Annual Award from the University of North Carolina in 1959. Fifteen of her poems were published in the New York Times from 1963-1972. She was appointed the first Walter Van Tilburg Clark Lecturer in Creative Writing at UNR in 1973 and received the Nevada Governor's Art Award for Literature in 1983. The Schoolhouse Poems (1975) is dedicated to Walter Van Tilburg Clark and contains the poem, "Late Letter to Walter Clark." Her later work was influenced by the Second Wave Feminist Movement of the 1970s. The One Creature anthology contains environmental poems.
1988 - Walter Van Tilburg Clark, Robert Laxalt
Walter Van Tilburg Clark was born in East Orland, Maine, but grew up and went to college in Reno, where his father was President of the University of Nevada from 1918-1938. He received his B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Nevada in 1931 and 1932. Clark tried his hand at poetry before turning to prose. He was recognized for the quality of his short stories in Yale Review in the 1930s. He was farming and teaching school in Cazenovia, New York, when his first novel was published. With The Ox-Bow Incident (1940), he became a national literary figure at thirty. 20th Century Fox released a feature film of The Ox-Bow Incident in 1943, starring Henry Fonda and Dana Andrews. A condensed Armed Services Edition of The City of Trembling Leaves was produced during World War II, when over 123 million books were sent to U. S. troops. The Track of the Cat was first added to the Gold Star Book List by the Syracuse Public Library in 1949.
Clark taught at UNR and Virginia City High School and again at the University of Nevada, Reno, when he became writer-in-residence in 1962. He served as a trustee for the Virginia City Foundation Trust, which sought to preserve historic buildings linked to the Comstock Lode. In his later years, he wrote furiously but published little. Robert Laxalt arranged for Clark to come to Reno to edit the journals of nineteenth century Comstock editor and writer Alfred Doten, which were published posthumously in 1973. In 1998, Texas Christian University included Clark in their Literary Chronology of the American West (1510-1984).
Robert Laxalt, the son of Basque immigrants, referred to the Nevada State Library in Carson City as his second home during his childhood. He studied Basque culture in France and Spain as a Fulbright scholar and eventually, in fulfillment of that childhood prophecy, earned a reputation as a writer's writer. In his early career as a journalist, he wrote for the Nevada Appeal, Nevada State Journal, and was a staff correspondent for United Press International. He launched the Capital News Service in 1947. He was the Nevada correspondent for the Wall Street Journal and the Nevada political correspondent for the New York Times. He also sold nonfiction articles and short stories to leading national magazines. He was a revered teacher and the voice of the Basque immigrants in America.
The non-fiction classic about his father, Sweet Promised Land (1957), was followed by In a Hundred Graves (1972), and Nevada: A History (1977). The novella, A Cup of Tea in Pamplona (1985), was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. The trilogy, The Basque Hotel (1989), Child of the Holy Ghost (1992), and The Governor's Mansion (1994), continued the saga of Laxalt's Basque heritage.
In 1954, Laxalt joined the staff of the University of Nevada, Reno, as the director of News and Publications. He helped found the University of Nevada Press and served as its director from 1961-1983. He was Writer-in-Residence at the university during the mid-1970s. He was also a co-founder of the Center for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno.
In 1986, he was awarded the Tambor de Oro from the City of San Sebastian for his contributions to the Basque people and their country. In 1988, Laxalt became the first person named to the Distinguished Nevada Author Chair at the university. His seminars attracted diverse students from the university and the community. "Take your writing seriously," Laxalt advised students, "but don't take yourselves too seriously." At his retirement, he was designated Director Emeritus of the University of Nevada Press. In 1996, UNR Journalism Professor Travis Linn interviewed Laxalt for a segment of PBS Channel 5's Nevada Experience. In 1998, Texas Christian University included Laxalt in their Literary Chronology of the American West (1510-1984). He died in Reno on March 23, 2001.