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Katherine Anne Porter Remembered

Written by Darlene Harbour Unrue

Publication Year: 2010

Katherine Anne Porter Remembered is a collection of reminiscences and memoirs by contemporaries, friends, and associates of Porter offering a revealing and intimate portrait of the elusive and complex American writer.

From a fractured and vagabond girlhood in Texas, Porter led a wildly itinerant life that took her through five marriages, innumerable love affairs, and homes in Colorado, New York, Paris, Mexico, Louisiana, California, and Maryland. With very little formal education, she grew through sheer force of will to become a major American writer of short stories and the author of several books including Flowering Judas and other stories; Ship of Fools; Pale Horse; Pale Ride; Noon Wine; and The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter, which won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.

Because of Porter’s own dissembling and half-truths about her life, as well as the numerous factual errors that persist in biographical entries and literary dictionaries, a complete and accurate portrait of her life has been hard to establish. The 63 reminiscences gathered in this book paint a vivid portrait of Porter and are testaments to her extraordinary beauty, her gift for mesmerizing and charming audiences and friends, her yearnings for a lasting home, her delusions about love, the astonishing range and scope of her reading, her sharp tongue and vindictiveness, and her final paranoid renunciations of friends and family. Along the way, Porter formed friendships with Eudora Welty, Elizabeth Hardwick, Flannery O’Connor, and Cleanth Brooks whose remembrances of her are included in this volume. 

Published by: The University of Alabama Press

Title Page/Copyright/Dedication

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pp. xi-

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pp. xii-

In the course of preparing this volume of reminiscences, I have become indebted to many persons. First, I would like to thank those who set down their memories of Katherine Anne Porter and allowed them to be included in this collection. I am also grateful to those persons I interviewed between 1981 and 2000 who were willing to contribute...

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pp. xv-xx

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pp. 1-6

In 1940, when Katherine Anne Porter was fifty years old, Paul Crume published a review of her Pale Horse, Pale Rider: Three Short Novels and remarked on the extraordinary fact that despite Porter’s having been named “a new master of American prose” nine years earlier, with the publication of...

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Texas and Colorado, 1890–1919

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pp. 7-8

Although for many years not much was known publicly about the first three decades of Katherine Anne Porter’s life—years of loss, vagabondage, illness, bad marriages, poverty, and struggles to gain an artistic foothold—reminiscences by her sister...

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Anna Gay Porter Holloway

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pp. 9-12

Anna Gay Porter Holloway (1885–1969) was the first child of Mary Alice Jones Porter (1859–92) and Harrison Boone Porter (1857–1942). married to Thomas J. Holloway in a double wedding with Katherine Anne and John Henry Koontz in 1906, she lived ...

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Donald Stalling

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pp. 13-14

Donald Langhorne Stalling (1928–89) was born in Garrison, Texas, and received an M.A. from Texas Christian University in 1951 and a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1959. He later taught at schools in the United States and Japan. While he was writing his master’s thesis, he corresponded with and interviewed persons who had...

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Willene Hendrick

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pp. 15-19

Willene Hendrick (1928–) is an independent scholar who earned a b.s. from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and worked as a nurse in Texas, Colorado, and Illinois before beginning a collaboration with her husband, George Hendrick, professor of ...

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Erna Schlemmer Johns

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pp. 20-21

Erna Schlemmer Johns (1890–1975) was the first child of Nicholas Carl Schlemmer and Wilhelmina Dorothea Wichtrich Schlemmer, a prosperous German immigrant family who lived across the street in Kyle from Catharine Ann Skaggs Porter’s house, where Katherine Anne Porter lived from 1892 to 1902. Erna and Katherine...

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Paul Crume

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pp. 22-24

Paul Crume (1912–75) was an editor and reporter for many years at the Dallas Morning News, where his column “Big D” was featured on the front page. He was the author of A Texan at Bay (1961)...

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Pauline Naylor

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pp. 25-28

Pauline Naylor (1896–1976) was editor of the pioneer section of the Fort Worth Star Telegram from 1936 to 1959. Her papers are included in the James R. Record Collection of West Texas Pioneers at Texas Tech University...

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Kathryn Adams Sexton

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pp. 29-31

Kathryn Adams Sexton (1916–91) earned a B.F.A. and a B.A. from the University of Oklahoma in 1937 and 1938, respectively. For her M.A. thesis at the University of Colorado at Boulder, she drew upon available materials in Denver, conducting interviews with persons who knew Katherine Anne Porter in 1918 and 1919, compiling a...

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Kitty Barry Crawford

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pp. 32-34

Kitty Barry Crawford (1887–1982), born on a plantation in Randolph, Georgia, the daughter of Osgood and Eliza Barry, was educated at Kidd-Key College in Sherman, Texas. In 1913 Kitty Barry married Jasper Garfield Crawford (b. 1883), with whom she founded...

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New York, Connecticut, and Mexico,1920–1931

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pp. 35-36

The years from 1920 to 1931 were in many ways the most important of Porter’s artistic career. They were also the most adventurous and the most personally demoralizing years of her life. When Porter wrote her family at the end of 1920 that her artistic goals were in sight, she was correct...

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W. H. Cowles

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pp. 37-39

William Henry Cowles (1878–1951), a graduate of West Point, veteran of World War I, and colonel in the United States Cavalry, was assigned, when still a major, to the Military Intelligence Division in Mexico City in the 1920s when Porter was there during three...

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J. Edgar Hoover

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pp. 40-41

John Edgar Hoover (1885–1972) was special assistant to W. J. Burns, director of the Bureau of Investigation, from 1921 until 1924, when Burns stepped down and Hoover took over as director. In 1935 Hoover founded the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which supplanted the Bureau of Investigation, and continued to serve as director until his death.....

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Josephine Herbst

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pp. 42-45

Josephine Herbst (1892–1969), novelist, essayist, and political activist, met Katherine Anne Porter in Greenwich village in the early 1920s. she and Porter became fast friends sympathetic to one another’s struggles to be self- supporting writers, but their friendship eventually disintegrated over differences of opinion about the relationship ...

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Matthew Josephson

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pp. 46-47

Matthew Josephson (1899–1978), journalist, biographer, and chronicler of American economics, was a graduate of Columbia University, an associate editor of Broom, and a contributing editor of transition. He met Porter in the fall of 1928 when he temporarily replaced the book editor at Macaulay and Company, the publisher of his biography of Émile...

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Robert Plunkett

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pp. 48-49

Robert Plunkett (1919–) is the son of Helen Rebecca (Becky) Edelman Crawford and her first husband, Charles Robert Plunkett, a professor at New York University. After his parents divorced when he was very young, Plunkett attended various boarding schools...

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Elizabeth Anderson

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pp. 50-51

Elizabeth Prall Anderson (1884–1976) attended the University of Michigan and the library school at the New York Public Library. She was a bookstore manager in New York in 1922 when she met Sherwood Anderson, and in 1924 she became his third wife. They ...

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Winifred Hill

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pp. 52-54

Winifred Hill (1880–c. 1985) was an American expatriate who lived most of her life in Mexico and moved among both expatriates and Mexican artists and political leaders. As a hostess she bridged the gap between disparate groups in Mexico City society in the 1920s and 1930s. Porter’s friend Mary Doherty pointed out in 1921 that Porter refused...

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Europe, Texas, and Louisiana,1932–1940

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pp. 55-56

In 1931, when Porter arrived in Europe with Eugene Pressly, whom she married two years later, her life acquired a dimension different from anything she had ever known. At first she wasn’t sure she was going to like Europe, for Germany frightened her. After stopping in Paris, however, she wanted to live nowhere else. Paris expatriate...

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Glenway Wescott

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pp. 57-65

Glenway Wescott (1901–87), an important writer in the 1920s and 1930s, was a member of the American expatriate community that included Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude stein. His highly regarded novel ....

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Toni Willison

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pp. 66-67

Florence (Toni) Hauser Willison (1903–98) met Katherine Anne Porter in Paris in 1934. Working in Greenwich Village in the 1920s as a button painter and dental assistant, Willison was active in leftist political organizations, as she was to be for much of her life.......

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Paul Porter

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pp. 68-78

Harrison Paul Porter Jr. (1921–) was born and reared in Houston, Texas, the second of four children of Constance Eve Ingalls Porter and Harrison Paul Porter Sr., Katherine Anne Porter’s brother. Paul Porter Jr. served in the U.S. Army in Europe in World....

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Breckenridge Porter

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pp. 79-80

Breckenridge Porter (1914–99) was the son of Katherine Anne Porter’s sister Mary Alice (Baby) Porter Townsend Hillendahl. His father, Herbert Townsend, died before his birth, and his uncle, his mother’s brother Paul, adopted him and gave him the name...

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Cleanth Brooks

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pp. 81-83

Cleanth Brooks (1906–94), born in Kentucky and reared in Tennessee by devoutly Methodist parents, was educated in private preparatory schools before earning degrees from Vanderbilt, Tulane, and Exeter College, Oxford, which he attended as a Rhodes Scholar. He was professor of English at Louisiana State University (1932–47) and...

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Eudora Welty

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pp. 84-97

Eudora Alice Welty (1909–2001), Mississippi-born novelist, short-story writer, and photographer, was educated at the Mississippi State College for Women (now Mississippi University for Women), the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and Columbia University. She worked for the Works Progress Administration as a photographer...

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John Edward Hardy

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pp. 98-102

John Edward Hardy (1922–), teacher, scholar, and poet, was born in Baton Rouge and received his B.A. from Louisiana State University, where he was a student of Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren. He received an M.A. from the State University of Iowa and a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. He taught at the universities of...

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New York, Washington, DC,and California, 1941–1951

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pp. 103-104

The 1940s were a decade of transition and loss for Porter. In January 1942 her father died, and six months later she divorced Albert Erskine. Struggling to find stability, she bought a charming old farmhouse near Yaddo and began a long and expensive process...

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Marcella Com

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pp. 105-112

Marcella Rodange Comès Winslow (1925–2000) was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and attended the Carnegie School of Fine Arts before studying painting in Europe. A portrait painter, she settled in Washington, DC, with her two young children during World War II while her husband, Colonel William Randolph Winslow, was...

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Eleanor Clark

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pp. 113-117

Eleanor Phelps Clark (1913–96) earned a B.A. from Vassar College in 1934, and throughout the 1930s and 1940s she supported leftist political causes while working as a freelance writer and an editor for German refugee scholars. In 1952 she married Robert Penn Warren, to whom Porter introduced her in 1944, and with whom she had two children...

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William Goyen

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pp. 118-120

Charles William Goyen (1915–83) was a Texas-born writer and editor. After teaching for one year at the University of Houston, he left to serve in the U.S. Navy during World War II . When he returned, he set about becoming a writer by working hard at his craft and making the acquaintance of sympathetic writers he admired, such...

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Richard Scowcroft

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pp. 121-122

Richard P. Scowcroft (1916–2001) was an influential member of the Creative Writing faculty in the program founded by Wallace Stegner at Stanford University. After earning a B.A. from the University of Utah and a Ph.D. from Harvard, Scowcroft published...

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Isabel Bayley

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pp. 123-132

Isabel Bayley (1911–93) met Katherine Anne Porter at a University of Kansas writing workshop Porter conducted in 1948. Bayley, who became Porter’s devoted friend, corresponded with her and made visits to her as long as Porter lived. In 1983 Bayley assumed the...

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John Malcolm Brinnin

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pp. 133-134

John Malcolm Brinnin (1916–99), poet, critic, and teacher, was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to American parents, who moved to Detroit, Michigan, during his childhood. Brinnin earned a B.A. from the University of Michigan and attended graduate school at Harvard. From 1949 to 1956 he was director of the Young Men’s–Young Women’s...

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Elizabeth Spencer

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pp. 135-136

Elizabeth Spencer (1921–), a native Mississippian, earned an M.A. from Vanderbilt, worked as a reporter at the Nashville Tennessean, and taught at the University of Mississippi in Oxford. Recipient of numerous awards, she lived in Italy and for many years...

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New York, Europe, Michigan,Virginia, and Washington, DC,1952–1961

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pp. 137-138

At the Congress for Cultural Freedom in Paris in 1952, Porter spoke at the opening session on behalf of the U.S. delegation. She spent her remaining time in France renewing old acquaintances, making new friends (such as Elizabeth Hardwick), and escaping to Brittany...

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Elizabeth Hardwick

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pp. 139-142

Elizabeth Hardwick (1916–2007) was one of eleven children born to Eugene and Mary Ramsey Hardwick in Kentucky. After earning B.A. and M.A. degrees at the University of Kentucky, she moved to New York City, where she began her literary career by writing for such magazines...

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Seymour Lawrence

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pp. 143-144

Seymour Lawrence (1926–94), a graduate of Harvard University, became an influential publisher of such writers as Kurt Vonnegut, J. P. Donleavy, Richard Brautigan, and Tim O’Brien in addition to Katherine Anne Porter. After having signed Porter ...

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David Locher

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pp. 145-150

David Anthony Locher (1924–), poet and librarian, was born in Dubuque, Iowa, and educated in his youth at private parochial schools. He earned a B.A. at Loras College in 1947 and a master’s degree in Library Science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor...

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Jeanne Rockwell

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pp. 151-153

Jeanne Rockwell (1920–) was a graduate of Bucknell University. She worked on newspapers in New York, Virginia, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, and published essays in Harper’s Bazaar, Mademoiselle, Vogue, American Girl, and True Confessions as well as the...

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Barbara Thompson Davis

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pp. 154-164

Barbara Thompson Davis (1933–2009) met Katherine Anne Porter while working for the Washington Post the fall after her graduation from Wellesley College. Porter was drawn to the young woman, and for the rest of her life enjoyed the friendship that bloomed from their first meeting. It was because of that friendship that Davis agreed to accept the trusteeship of Porter’s literary estate upon the death of Isabel Bayley. Barbara...

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Rita Johns

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pp. 165-167

Rita LeCoyer Johns (1916–2002), born in Baltimore, Maryland, was the second wife of Glover Steiner Johns Jr., the son of Porter’s childhood friend Erna Schlemmer Johns. Glover Johns Jr. (1912–76), a 1931 graduate of the Virginia Military Institute and a highly...

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Flannery O’Connor

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pp. 168-170

Mary Flannery O’Connor (1925–64) was born in Savannah, Georgia, the only child of Regina Cline O’Connor and Edward O’Connor, the latter of whom died when Flannery was fifteen years old. She attended the Peabody Laboratory School, Georgia State...

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James Ruoff

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pp. 171-178

James E. Ruoff (1925–86), born in Seattle, Washington, earned a B.A. from the University of Washington and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He held faculty positions at Alfred University, Washington State University, Wichita State University, and City College of New York and was a Fulbright lecturer in Turkey...

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New York, Washington, DC,and Maryland, 1962–1973

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pp. 179-180

Ship of Fools was published on 1 April 1962, and Katherine Anne Porter became a wealthy and yet more celebrated writer. She discovered, however, that commercial success sometimes has an artistic price. Exhausted after what she called the “hullaballoo” surrounding...

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Frederic Prokosch

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pp. 181-183

Frederic Prokosch (1908–89), American novelist, poet, critic, and translator, was born in Madison, Wisconsin, and educated at Haverford College, Yale University, and King’s College, Cambridge. He was cultural attaché of the American legations in Portugal...

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E. Barrett Prettyman Jr

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pp. 184-190

E. Barrett Prettyman Jr. (1925–) is the son of Lucy Courtney Hill Prettyman and Elijah Barrett Prettyman, the latter a prominent U.S. Court of Appeals judge. He earned a B.A. from Yale University in 1949 and an LL.B. from the University of Virginia in 1953. From 1953 to 1955, Prettyman served as a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court justices...

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John Prince

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pp. 191-196

John Prince (1922–), a Virginian and a graduate of the University of North Carolina and the University of Missouri, was a friend of Marcella Winslow, through whom he met Katherine Anne Porter in the early 1950s. Prince, who had studied at the Cordon Bleu in Paris and worked in a catering business in Washington, DC, shared...

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Michael Scott

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pp. 197-200

Michael Scott, a former student at Loras College, in Dubuque, Iowa, was working in Washington, DC, in the summer of 1964 when he met Katherine Anne Porter through his former professor Raymond Roseliep (1917–83), with whom Porter had been corresponding since 1960. A diocesan priest and poet, Roseliep seemed to have an amatory...

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Enrique Hank Lopez

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pp. 201-205

Enrique Hank Lopez (1920–85), editor, lawyer, and writer, is believed to be the first Hispanic American to graduate from Harvard Law School. He edited the Hispanic literary journal Diálogos, served as a consultant to the Ford Foundation, and promoted...

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William R. Wilkins

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pp. 206-210

William Raymond Wilkins (1928–) grew up in the redwood country of northern California. After receiving a B.A. from Humboldt State College in 1951, he joined the U.S. Navy, where he eventually rose to the rank of lieutenant commander. In 1952 he married Fern Stahl, and during his navy career the couple and their two children,...

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Kathleen Feeley

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pp. 211-215

Kathleen Feeley, School Sisters of Notre Dame (1929–), author of Flannery O’Connor: Voice of the Peacock and numerous articles and book reviews, received her Ph.D. in English from Rutgers University. She was president of the College of... Notre Dame of Maryland for twenty-one years. Subsequently, she received two Fulbright teaching awards...

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Maura Eichner

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pp. 216-217

Maura Eichner, School Sisters of Notre Dame (1915–2009), is the author of several books of poetry, including Bell Sound and Vintage (1966), What We Women Know (1980), and Hope Is a Blind Bard (1989). Her poetry has been published in... many journals, including the..

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Clark Dobson

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pp. 218-222

Clark Dobson (1939–), who began his career as a high school music teacher, holds M.B.E., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees from Florida State University. He was an associate director of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Instruction and served as a professor and administrator at George Mason University and the University of South Carolina...

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M. M. Liberman

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pp. 223-228

Myron Mandell Liberman (1921–95) earned a B.A. from Lafayette College in 1943 and an M.A. from New York University in 1946. Both a fiction writer and a critic, he was an instructor at the State University of New York at Buffalo when he began studying Katherine Anne Porter’s...

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Texas and Maryland, 1974–1981

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pp. 229-230

Katherine Anne Porter’s 1976 birthday party in her homeland, described by Charlotte Laughlin, was the highlight of her last years. Although Porter talked about writing more books, she knew at some level that none was going to be written...

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Charlotte Laughlin

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pp. 231-240

Charlotte Laughlin (1951–) was born in Brownwood, Texas, and received her Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Texas, Austin, in 1975. From 1975 to 1983 she taught English at Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas, leaving as an associate professor in 1983 in order to be a full-time mother, including...

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Joseph Gallagher

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pp. 241-243

Joseph Gallagher, a retired priest of the Baltimore diocese, is also a former editor of the Catholic Review and a frequent contributor of articles to the Baltimore Sun. He is the author of To Hell and Back with Dante: A Modern Reader’s Guide to the Divine Comedy (1996). Katherine Anne Porter greatly admired Dante, one of many literary and spiritual subjects she found to discuss with father Gallagher....

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Ted Wojtasik

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pp. 244-252

Ted Wojtasik, born and reared in Connecticut, is a visiting faculty member in Creative Writing at St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, North Carolina. He holds an M.F.A. in fiction writing from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in twentieth-century American literature from the University of South Carolina. He is the author of three...

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Jane DeMouy

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pp. 253-258

Jane Krause Demouy (1942–) is a Katherine Anne Porter scholar who retired from teaching in 1984. since then she has worked as a journalist for National Public Radio, a feature writer for newspapers and magazines, and a science writer/editor at the ...

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Lynn Darling

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pp. 259-262

Lynn Darling (1952–), a freelance journalist, grew up in northern Virginia, received a B.A. from Radcliffe College, and in 1975 went to work for the Washington Post. In 1986 she married Lee Adrien Lescaze, White House correspondent at the Post. The story of that marriage, which ended with Lescaze’s death in 1996, is the... heart of Darling’s

List of Reminiscences

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pp. 263-266


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pp. 267-290

Works Cited

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pp. 291-300


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pp. 301-313

E-ISBN-13: 9780817384586
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817316679

Page Count: 313
Publication Year: 2010

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Subject Headings

  • Porter, Katherine Anne, 1890-1980.
  • Porter, Katherine Anne, 1890-1980 -- Friends and associates.
  • Authors, American -- 20th century -- Biography.
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