NORMAN D. BROWN, Editor
Letters of Roy Bedichek. Edited by William A. Owens and Lyman Grant.
(Austin: University of Texas Press, 1985. Pp. lvi+542. Preface, edi-
torial notes, afterword, index. $17.50)
This well-edited collection contains more than 300 letters of the
Texas naturalist-philosopher chosen from the nearly 4,000 letters writ-
ten to more than 500 friends and acquaintances in the Roy Bedichek
Collection in the University of Texas Archives. The editors state that
the intention of the selection was "to show the growth of Bedichek's
mind and writing style and to present the range of Bedichek's character
and interests" (p. xiii). They succeed admirably. The collection is a fas-
cinating mirror of the man and record of his place and era.
Bedichek, who turned all but his family letters over to William A.
Owens for the UT Archives in 1952, believed that one's letters would
prove a livelier, truer, and less contrived record of one's life than an
autobiography. In his case that is probably so. We leave a long read
through these letters, spanning the years 1902 to 1959, with the sense
of having met a mind that was wise, stubborn, quirky, focused on first
principles, and tough-of having added a distinctive voice to the li-
brary of our consciousness.
The collection includes letters from almost every year of Bedichek's
adult life; those of the 1940os and 1950s predominate. Here are his re-
flections back and forth with friends Walter Prescott Webb and J. Frank
Dobie, a fifty-year correspondence with his friend Edgar Witt, and
countless encouragements and advisories to such younger writers as
Owens, Henry Nash Smith, John Henry Faulk, and Ronnie Dugger.
Bedi's subjects show the breadth of his interests, from natural history to
sports to politics and folklore.
His friend William A. Owens, whom in one letter Bedichek compares
to Tolstoy in his grasp and use of folk speech in fiction, has contributed
a forty-page essay, "Roy Bedichek: Heir of Expanding Frontiers," that
is an incisive introduction to Bedichek's life, its context, and the impor-
tance of his experience and thought to us. Lyman Grant has furnished
an appreciative afterword.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 90, July 1986 - April, 1987. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117152/. Accessed May 25, 2015.