“Big Wonderful Thing: A History of Texas”
By Stephen Harrigan
Stephen Harrigan was born in Oklahoma City in 1948 and has lived in Texas since the age of five, growing up in Abilene and Corpus Christi. He is a longtime writer for Texas Monthly, and his articles and essays have appeared in a wide range of other publications as well, including The Atlantic, Outside, The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, Conde Nast Traveler, Audubon, Travel Holiday, Life, American History, National Geographic and Slate. He was a finalist for the 2015 National Magazine Awards for his commentary on film and television for Texas Monthly. "Off Course", a piece for Texas Monthly about a trek Harrigan made to the mountain summit where his father died in a plane crash before he was born, won the Edwin "Bud" Shrake Award from the Texas Institute of Letters in 2016 for best work of journalism.
Harrigan is the author of ten books of fiction and non-fiction, including The Gates of the Alamo, which became a New York Times bestseller and Notable Book, and received a number of awards, including the TCU Texas Book Award, the Western Heritage Award from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, and the Spur Award for Best Novel of the West. Remember Ben Claytonwas published by Knopf in 2011 and praised by Booklist as a "stunning work of art" and by The Wall Street Journal as a "a poignantly human monument to our history." Remember Ben Clayton also won a Spur Award, as well as the Jesse H. Jones Award from the Texas Institute of Letters and the James Fenimore Cooper Prize, given by the Society of American Historians for the best work of historical fiction. In the Spring of 2013, the University of Texas Press published a career-spanning volume of his essays, The Eye of the Mammoth, which reviewers called “masterful” (from a starred review in Publishers Weekly), “enchanting and irresistible” (the Dallas Morning News) and written with “acuity and matchless prose.”(Booklist). The book will be reissued in October in an expanded paperback edition. His latest novel is A Friend of Mr. Lincoln, a work of fiction centering on Abraham Lincoln’s early career as a lawyer and state legislator in Springfield, Illinois. A starred review in Publishers Weekly hailed the book as “superb” and, in the judgment of Pulitzer Prize winning historian Joseph J. Ellis, it is “historical fiction at its very best.”
Among the many movies Harrigan has written for television are HBO’s award-winning The Last of His Tribe, starring Jon Voight and Graham Greene, and King of Texas, a western retelling of Shakespeare’s King Lear for TNT, which starred Patrick Stewart, Marcia Gay Harden, and Roy Scheider. His most recent television production was The Colt, an adaptation of a short story by the Nobel-prize winning author Mikhail Sholokhov, which aired on The Hallmark Channel. For his screenplay of The Colt, Harrigan was nominated for a Writers Guild Award and the Humanitas Prize. Young Caesar, a feature adaptation of Conn Iggulden’s “Emperor” novels, which he co-wrote with William Broyles, Jr. (Apollo 13, Cast Away) is currently in development with Exclusive Media. Also in development is The Which Way Tree, an adaptation of Elizabeth Crook's novel about a young girl's obsessive hunt for the panther that killed her mother. Robert Duvall is producing and will star in the movie, whose screenplay Harrigan collaborated on with Crook.
His latest book, Big Wonderful Thing, a sweeping narrative of Texas from prehistory to the present, will be published Oct. 1, 2019 by the University of Texas Press.
A 1971 graduate of the University of Texas, Harrigan lives in Austin, where he is a faculty fellow at UT’s James A. Michener Center for Writers and a writer-at-large for Texas Monthly. He is also a founding member of CAST (Capital Area Statues, Inc.) an organization in Austin that commissions monumental works of art as gifts to the city. He is the recipient of the Texas Book Festival’s Texas Writers Award, the Lon Tinkle Award for lifetime achievement from the Texas Institute of Letters, the Texas Medal of Arts award from the Texas Cultural Trust and has been inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame. Stephen Harrigan and his wife Sue Ellen have three daughters and six grandchildren.