On September 19, 1964, four days after receiving the Medal of Freedom from President Lyndon Johnson, J. Frank Dobie lay down for his afternoon nap and never woke up.
In his many books about Texas and the Southwest, Dobie put folklore on an equal footing with respected works of history. Texans had a hard time reconciling his entertaining tales with his outspoken liberal politics, heretical views that got him fired from the University of Texas.
A book reviewer had nothing but the highest praise on August 28, 1959 for a newspaperman’s first novel: “It may be a long time before a better one comes along.”
How right he was! “Advise and Consent” by Houston native Allen Drury was the last work of political fiction to win the Pulitzer Prize — more than half a century ago. Read all about it in “This Week in Texas History” for Wednesday, August 27 through Tuesday, September 2.
Plagued by depression, alcoholism and severe arthritis, writer George Sessions Perry waded into the river near his Connecticut home on December 13, 1956. When the body finally turned up two months later, the coroner ruled his death an accidental drowning but everyone knew it was suicide.
Born in Rockdale in 1910, Perry burst upon the literary scene in 1941 with “Hold Autumn in Your Hand,” the first Texas novel to win the National Book Award. As a regular contributor to the “Saturday Evening Post” and other national magazines, he was one of the most popular writers of his day.
On November 12, 1948, the Texas Institute of Letters awarded the McMurray Book Store’s $250 prize for Best Texas First Novel of the Year to David Westheimer for “Summer on the Water.”
The Rice graduate and Houston newspaperman had the rotten luck to be on-board the first B-24 shot down over Italy in December 1942 and spent the rest of WWII in a German POW camp. Westheimer is best known for the best-selling novel “Von Ryan’s Express” published in 1964 and turned into the popular motion picture of the same name.