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

January 11th, 2017
Katherine Anne Porter house acquires Cox book collection


KYLE – Long-time Texas writer Mike Cox of Wimberley has donated his collection of books on Southwestern literature and writing to Texas State University’s Katherine Anne Porter Literary Center in Kyle.

An elected member of the Texas Institute of Letters, Cox is the award-winning author of 30 non-fiction books, including a two-volume history of the Texas Rangers published in 2008. His latest book, Legend and Lore of the Texas Capitol, is scheduled for release later this year.

“As a teenager I saw the movie ‘Ship of Fools’ when it first came out, but didn’t come to realize Porter was a Texas writer until my freshman English class at Angelo State University read one of her short stories,” Cox said. “Even though she didn’t spend all her life in Texas, she stands as one of the state’s best-regarded novelists.”

Born in 1890 in Brown County, Porter lived with her grandmother in Kyle from 1892 to 1902. She went on to become an internationally respected writer and Pulitzer Prize winner. Her best-known work, Ship of Fools, was published in 1962.

The book collection dealing with Texas letters, which will be housed in Porter’s restored childhood home, was built for reference purposes during the 30-plus years Cox wrote a Texas book review column for the Austin American-Statesman. Some of the how-to books on the craft of writing are from the library of Cox’s grandfather, L.A. Wilke, an early 20th century Texas newspaperman and later an outdoor writer.

“Both my parents were also writers, so I inherited their writing-related books as well,” Cox said. “And I helped support the publishing industry over the years by buying a lot of writing how-tos myself. They were a lot of help to me as my free-lance writing career progressed, and I hope they will prove useful for the writer-in-residence program at the Porter center.”

Cox sold his first magazine story when he was in the eighth grade and saw his first book published in 1970. Forty years later, in 2010, he received the A.C. Greene Award for lifetime achievement in writing. The Wittliff Collections at Texas State University houses most of Cox’s writing-related papers.

After spending the first 20 years of his career as a newspaper writer, in 1985 Cox joined the director’s staff at the Texas Department of Public Safety, where for 15 years he was the state law enforcement agency’s news media voice. Later, he worked for the Texas Press Association and the Texas Department of Transportation before joining Texas Parks and Wildlife in 2010. He retired in 2015.

The Porter House at 508 Center Street in Kyle, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, is open for individual and school tours by appointment. For more information, contact Jeremy Garrett, writer-in-residence, Katherine Ann Porter Literary Center, at (512) 268-6637.

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