Literary Pursuits in New Mexico

Fray Angelico Chavez, New Mexico’s preeminent author and genealogist.

New Mexico, especially Santa Fe, has a long list of notable authors. It all began with with Gaspar Perez de Villagra. He was the solider/scribe who wrote the epic poem La Historia de Nuevo Mexico. His 1598 narrative chronicles the journey of Juan de Oñate and the first European founding of America.

Writers of the 20th Century

By the early 20th century Santa Fe had an abundance of writers in both Spanish and English. Felipe M. Chacon wrote poetry and fiction, and was also the editor of several Spanish language newspapers, including Santa Fe’s El Nuevo Mexicano. Mary Austin co-authored the book Taos Pueblo with Ansel Adams. Oliver La Farge and Willa Cather both won Pulitzer Prizes for their writings during their time in Santa Fe.

A Hometown Hero

The book, Origins of New Mexico, by Fray Angelico Chavez, to this day, remains the “bible” for genealogists. The Fray Angelico History Library at the Palace of the Governors bears his name. For decades Marc Simmons has provided generations of readers with the history of New Mexico through his historical column Trail Dust. Alice Khan Laddas, the author of the New York Times best-selling book, The G Spot and Other Discoveries about Human Sexuality, lives in Santa Fe. As does Jacqueline Dunnington, the Marion scholar, who received two Apostolic Blessings from the Vatican for her books on Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Documenting Native American Life

Joe S. Sando was the first Native American to document Pueblo life in New Mexico. Evan s. Connell wrote the stories Mr. and Mrs. Bridge which became a movie starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Nasario Garcia received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Historical Society of New Mexico for his books. Martha Egan, Pedro Ribera Ortega and George Tate, are some of the other writers that that have lived, wrote and made an impact in Santa Fe.

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