Paul Horgan

Paul Horgan (August 1, 1903 – March 8, 1995) was an American author of fiction and non-fiction, most of which was set in the Southwestern United States. He was the recipient of two Pulitzer Prizes for History. The New York Times Review of Books said of him, in 1989: "With the exception of Wallace Stegner, no living American has so distinguished himself in both fiction and history."[1]

Life and career

Born in Buffalo, New York, in 1903, he moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1915. He later attended New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell where he formed a lifelong friendship with classmate and future artist Peter Hurd. He later served as the school's librarian for a number of years.

After meeting and befriending J. Robert Oppenheimer in 1922 when Oppenheimer first travelled to the southwest (a relationship which endured), Horgan enrolled in the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York in 1923. He learned that the Russian tenor Vladimir Rosing was starting an opera department at the school. Horgan had loved Rosing's records and he wanted to be part of this new venture. He noticed no one had been assigned to design the sets, and although he had never done set design he somehow convinced Rosing to give him a chance to prove himself. The fledgling company evolved within three years into a professional organization: the American Opera Company.[2]

Horgan first came to prominence when he won the Harper Prize in 1933 for The Fault of Angels, one of his books not set in the Southwest, but drawn instead from his experiences in Rochester. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1947. He twice won the Pulitzer Prize for History, first in 1955 with Great River: The Rio Grande in North American History (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1951, later Wesleyan University Press) (also Bancroft Prize for History) and then once again in 1976 with Lamy of Santa Fe (Wesleyan University Press).[3] Both these books broke new ground in New Mexican history. Great River is considered a classic in the historical literature of the American southwest. It is especially noteworthy as the first attempt to describe, for a general audience, the pueblo culture of the Anasazi, as well as the colonial Spanish experience in New Mexico. Horgan's description of the Anglo-Americans who entered and eventually conquered Texas and New Mexico is also regarded as one of the most accurate narratives of southwestern history during this time period.

Horgan served as president of the American Catholic Historical Association,[4] an association based at The Catholic University of America. In 1960 Robert Franklin Gish exalted Horgan's contributions in the monograph Paul Horgan: Yankee Plainsman and a few other works.[5]

Horgan had a long academic relationship with Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. He served there as a Fellow, Center for Advanced Studies (now the Center for Humanities), 1959–1960, 1961–1962, 1967–1968, 1968–1969; Director, CAS, 1962–1967; adjunct professor of English, 1961–1971; Professor Emeritus and permanent author-in-residence, 1971–1995.[6][7][8][9] The author Charles Barber served as a personal assistant to Horgan when Barber was in college. Horgan died in 1995. He published 40 books and received 19 honorary degrees from universities in the United States. He received a papal knighthood from Pope Pius XII.



  • The Fault of Angels (1933)
  • No Quarter Given (1935)
  • The Return of the Weed (1936) short stories
  • Main Line West (1936)
  • A Lamp on the Plains (1937)
  • Far from Cibola (1938)
  • The Habit of Empire (1939)
  • Figures in the Landscape (1940)
  • The Common Heart (1942)
  • Devil in the Desert (1950)
  • Things As They Are (1951)
  • One Red Rose for Christmas (1952)
  • The Saintmaker's Christmas Eve (1955) (translated into German by Annemarie Böll as "Weihnachtsabend in San Cristobal")
  • Give Me Possession (1957)
  • A Distant Trumpet (1960)
  • Mountain Standard Time (1962) contains Main Line West, Far from Cibola, and The Common Heart
  • Toby and the Nighttime (1963) juvenile
  • Memories of the Future (1966)
  • The Peach Stone: Stories from Four Decades (1967) short stories
  • Everything to Live For (1968)
  • Whitewater (1970)
  • The Thin Mountain Air (1977)
  • Mexico Bay (1982)
  • The Clerihews of Paul Horgan (1985) light verse
  • The Richard Trilogy (1990) contains Things As they Are, Everything to Live For, and The Thin Mountain Air


  • Men of Arms (1931)
  • From the Royal City (1936)
  • New Mexico's Own Chronicle (with Maurice Garland Fulton) (1937)
  • Diary and Letters of Josiah Gregg, 1840-1847 (1941)
  • Look at America: The Southwest (1947)
  • Great River: The Rio Grande in North American History (1951)
  • The Centuries of Santa Fe (1956)
  • Rome Eternal (1959)
  • Citizen of New Salem (1961)
  • Conquistadors in North American History (1963)
  • Songs After Lincoln (1965)
  • Peter Hurd: A Portrait Sketch from Life (1965)
  • Maurice Baring Restored (editor) (1969)
  • The Heroic Triad. Essays in the Social Energies of Three Southwestern Cultures (1970)
  • Encounters with Stravinsky (1972)
  • Approaches to Writing (1974)
  • Lamy of Santa Fe: His Life and Times (1975)
  • Josiah Gregg and His Vision of the Early West (1979)
  • Henriette Wyeth (1980)
  • On the Climate of Books (1981) essays
  • Of America: East & West (1984)
  • Under the Sangre de Cristo (1985)
  • A Certain Climate (1988) essays
  • A Writer's Eye (1988)
  • Tracings: A Book of Partial Portraits (1993)


  1. Chieftain, El Defensor. "Paul Horgan and the fate of great writers". Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  2. Horgan, Paul. Encounters with Stravinsky (1972) p. 44-47. Farrar Straus and Giroux, New York.
  3. "What's New". 31 January 1997. Archived from the original on 31 January 1997. Retrieved 1 September 2016.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  4. "ACHA Presidents - American Catholic Historical Association". Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  5. ipl2. "Robert Franklin Gish on Native American Authors". Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  6. "DACS". Archived from the original on 14 March 2017. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  7. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-06-09. Retrieved 2010-10-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. "OBITUARY: PAUL HORGAN". 25 March 1995. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  9. Bernstein, Richard (9 March 1995). "Paul Horgan, 91, Historian And Novelist of the Southwest". Retrieved 1 September 2016 via