Illustration of a woman writing with books beside her and purple and pink trees to the left in the background.

Underrated Texas Female Authors

By Andie Mau
Web Content Assistant Manager

While Cormac McCarthy and Larry McMurty are household names, Texan women are suspiciously absent in Texan literary conversations despite their gender making up the majority of the publishing industry.

The following are accomplished Texan female authors and their works worthy of more recognition.

“Rain of Scorpions and Other Stories”
– Estella Portillo Trambley

Trambley was born in 1976 in El Paso, Texas. The majority of her works focus on immigration and feminist causes. Along with writing books, she has also published plays, poetry and essays.

In the short story collection “Rain of Scorpions” Trambley explores feminism through the experiences and struggles of various female characters.

The stories feature vivid, surreal and sometimes dark imagery in her folktale-like narrative style. “Rain of Scorpions” makes a great read for magical realism lovers.


“The Liars’ Club”
-Mary Karr

Karr was born in 1955 in Groves, Texas. Karr is most known for her autobiographical elements embedded in her novels, particularly “The Liars’ Club.”

“The Liars’ Club” follows Karr as she grows up in a small town in Texas. The novel transports readers to the 1960s and the experiences of people at that period in history, most notably her father.

“The Liars’ Club” won various literary awards and was a New York Times best-seller. Karr went on to write more authentic memoirs that continue to captivate readers.


“Pale Horse, Pale Rider”
-Katherine Ann Porter

Porter was born in 1939 in Indian Creek, Texas. Porter was most known for her short stories reminiscent of interesting events in her own life.

For example “Pale Horse, Pale Rider” depicts her harrowing escape from death during the 1918 flu pandemic. The book features other fascinating events as a short story collection.


“The injustice Never Leaves You: Anti-Mexican Violence in Texas”
– Monica Muñoz Martinez

Illustration of the Mexican flag with barbed wire across it.

Martinez was born in 1984 in Uvalde, Texas. Similar to Lambley, Martinez writes on issues affecting Mexican-Americans.

In “The Injustice Never Leaves You” Martinez documents the violence against Mexican-Americans along the U.S. border during the 1910s to ’20s. While graphic and disturbing, the novel reveals hidden injustices within Texan history that is relevant to the border and human rights issues faced today.


“Baby Houston”
-June Arnold

Illustration of a woman’s bust outline that is pink.

Although Arnold was not born in Texas, she spent most of her young life growing up in Texas after her family moved there in 1936. Arnold is a notable feminist and lesbian, using her writing to comment on social phenomena and record the lives of queer women.

Similar to Karr, Arnold uses an autobiographical style to paint a vivid picture of growing up in Houston. While Karr’s biography highlights the quaintness of the countryside, Arnold emboldens the gilded glamour of big city Houston.

Her humor and descriptive language are alluring, as the narrator Baby in “Baby Houston” critiques family dynamics, status and wealth in Texas.

Featured Image by Andrea Mau via Canva

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