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Try a Texas literary tour

Updated on August 24, 2017

Texas authors offer literary destinations

As a travel writer and devoted book lover, I've always had a yen to go on a literary tour. Literary travelers have a multitude of places in the US to visit, but Texas doesn't always come to mind as a destination spot for literary tours. The stereotypes of cowboys, horses, and Dallas remain strong. Those are followed by dreams of space travel and astronauts. Books and book writers seldom come to mind. But Texas is a state rich in literary history and opportunities to visit the homes of authors, museums dedicated to authors and their works, and great book collections and festivals abound.

One Texas city that instantly comes to mind is Austin, the state's capital and home to many Texas writers. The annual Texas Book Fair heralds the latest work of Texas authors in Austin every year. Be sure and stop in at Book People, the largest bookstore in Texas while you're there. Most people are familiar with the famous short story Gift of the Magi but few realize that O. Henry, or William Sydney Porter, was not only a Texan but a beloved son of Austin. He worked at the Texas General Land Office building from 1887 - 1891.

The Texas Wine Trail


O. Henry Museum

O. Henry Museum
O. Henry Museum

O. Henry, author of "Gift of the Magi"

O. Henry (William Sydney Porter)

Functions, festivals, and fun are woven around this famous Austinite author. O.Henry was such a fixed literary figure that Austin has truly embraced him as a favorite son. When planning your trip, be sure and include the annual O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships. This annual festivity is a fierce competition. You'll love it.

  • O. Henry image Credits.Texas General Land Building photograph created by Larry D. Moore (Nv8200p on en.wikipedia) using a Kodak EasyShare Z740 camera. (© 2006 Larry D. Moore) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons; above photograph of Austin's O. Henry museum created by Larry D. Moore (Nv8200p on en.wikipedia) using a Kodak EasyShare P880 camera. (© 2007 Larry D. Moore) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Literary tours and literary travelers

Do you like the idea of a literary tour? Where would you go?

Read the short stories by O. Henry

The Best Short Stories of O. Henry (Modern Library)
The Best Short Stories of O. Henry (Modern Library)
You may remember the short story "Gift of the Magi" by this author. Well, he did a lot more. He also lived in Texas and we're proud to claim him. Great short stories known for their twists.

Katherine Anne Porter house - Kyle, Texas

Katherine Anne Porter house - Kyle, Texas
Katherine Anne Porter house - Kyle, Texas

Pulitzer prize winner's home in Kyle, Texas

Katherine Anne Porter

Katherine Anne Porter's childhood home is in Kyle, Texas. The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter earned the author a Pulitzer. Not only can you find Porter's early home but you can visit the Katherine Anne Porter Literary Center There are plenty of events every year with major writers visiting and reading from their work.

  • Image Credits.By Photograph created by Larry D. Moore (Nv8200p on en.wikipedia) using a Kodak EasyShare P880 camera. (© 2009 Larry D. Moore) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

J Frank Dobie House

J Frank Dobie House
J Frank Dobie House

Book lovers and writers find inspiration at Paisano Ranch

James Michener Center for Writing

The University of Texas in Austin is well-known for its literary work. Celebrated author James Michener made his home there and taught students for many years. Another major Texas literary figure is the legendary folklorist, J. Frank Dobie. During his lifetime, his home in Austin was a well-known watering hole for the Texas literati and he turned his backyard into what could only be described as a literary salon. Today the home is listed as a National Register of Historic Places and a Texas Landmark. The university now owns the home and it is part of the famed Michener Center for Writing.

Another interesting destination spot for book lovers who are also writers is the Dobie Paisano ranch outside of Austin, Texas. Dobie actually lived on the ranch but now it is a retreat for today's writers. In Dobie's time it was not only a home but a center for Texas writers to gather with Dobie. The gathering continues today. In recent times the ranch has been updated and modernized but it still retains that authentic atmosphere and rugged quality that is so Texas.

Robert E. Howard home and museum

Robert E. Howard home and museum
Robert E. Howard home and museum

Birthplace of Robert E. Howard and Conan the Barbarian

A young Robert E. Howard arrived in a small Texas town about about 45 miles outside of Fort Worth, Texas, in 1919. Thirteen years later, Howard's short story, Conan the Cimmerian, appeared in Weird Tales. The rest is literary history. Today his home is a museum in Cross Plains, Texas and Howard is best remembered for his character, Conan the Barbarian.

Texas Weekend & Day Trips



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