San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

October 27th, 2009
Susan Wittig Albert to give reading Wednesday


Susan Wittig Albert, the popular author best known for her China Bayles mystery series, has authored a memoir, Together Alone, the newest title in the Wittliff’s Southwestern Writers Collection Book Series from the University of Texas Press.

Albert will give a reading and sign copies of her new book (with Susan J. Tweit, author of Walking Nature Home: A Life’s Journey) at the Wittliff Collections, Alkek Library, Wednesday at 3:30 pm. Admission is free and open to the public.

In Together, Alone: A Memoir of Marriage and Place, Albert explains why she abandoned a successful career in academia so that she could “live in the country, away from cities, towns, people.” Albert describes the day she walked out of the university: “I felt astonishingly, astoundingly free … and I could sing my own glorious hurrah. It was only a step, but it was the first, and it was necessary.”

Albert began a new life that connected her intimately to a place — a patch of land in the Texas Hill Country called Meadow Knoll. It was there, living and working with her new husband and writing partner, Bill Albert, that she explored life’s deeper questions.

“What does it mean to belong to a place,” she asks, “to be truly rooted and grounded in the place you call home?” And how, “in our culture of casual mobility and easy and frequent changes of partners, how do we manage to make a marriage? How do I live in an intimate partnership with another person and still be who I am, separate and alone?”

Albert writes about how she and Bill came to know their land, raising their own food and animals while working together and separately on writing projects. Once her sense of home and partnership was firmly established, Albert recalls how she had to find its counterbalance — a place where she could be alone and explore those parts of the self that only emerge in solitude. For her, this place became Lebh Shomea, a silent monastic retreat in South Texas. In writing about her time there, Albert reveals the deep satisfaction she finds in belonging to a community of people who have chosen to be apart and experience silence and solitude.

Albert notes, “I wrote my memoir to help me understand my life. I hope it will help you understand yours … I hope it will remind you of something you already know in your heart — that the freedom to learn who we truly are is deeply rooted in our connection to the people and the places we love.”

Susan Wittig Albert’s books include the best-selling China Bayles mysteries, the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, and the Robin Paige Victorian/Edwardian mysteries written with her husband. She has also written books for women on life-writing and work.

A graduate of the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana and the University of California at Berkeley, she is a former university English professor and administrator. In 1997, she founded the Story Circle Network, a nonprofit organization for women who want to write about their lives. In 2007, She co-edited What Wildness is This: Women Write About the Southwest, published in the Southwestern Writers Collection Series. Her website is

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