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Authors' gift establishes literary endowment

Posted by University News Service

April 24, 2012

A gift by Central Texas authors L.D. Clark and the late LaVerne Harrell Clark has established a literary endowment at Texas State University-San Marcos.

As the endowment grows, it will fund two yearly prizes called the L.D. Clark and LaVerne Harrell Clark Fiction Awards. One prize will be given for a novel and one for a novella. The recipients will live in the Clarks’ Smithville home part of the year as writers-in-residence and give readings at Texas State.

The writers-in-residence program was dedicated April 24 at the Clarks’ home, on Smithville’s Main Street. The program will be sponsored by Texas State’s nationally recognized Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing and the NEH Southwest Regional Humanities Center. 

“Texas State is very grateful for this wonderful gift,” said Texas State President Denise Trauth. “Through their generosity, the endowment that the Clarks set up will continue to support the literary community that sustained their work, as well as recognize writers who will contribute to Texas State’s significant role in this state’s and this country’s literature.”

L.D. Clark (born 1922) grew up on a farm in the Cross Timbers region of North Texas. After serving in the Army Air Corps in World War II, he obtained a Ph.D. from Columbia University and spent a long career as a professor of English at the University of Arizona, producing scholarship on D.H. Lawrence.  He is the author of seven novels, three volumes of short fiction, and several works of non-fiction. Clark is now at work on a book of reminiscences and commentary on the great changes that have taken place in the world during his long lifetime.  

He met his late wife, LaVerne Harrell Clark (1929-2008), in a creative writing class at Columbia University. They were married in 1951. A novelist, folklorist, and photographer, Mrs. Clark obtained M.A. and MFA degrees from the University of Arizona, where she was the first director of the University of Arizona Poetry Center. She produced six works of fiction and non-fiction, and a collection of photographic portraits of 500 well-known and emerging writers, mostly Americans. Her first book, They Sang for Horses, a study of Navajo and Apache horse mythology, won the University of Chicago Folklore Prize and has been recognized by the Smithsonian Institution as a classic in Native American studies. The book is now in print from the University of Colorado Press. A later book, Keepers of the Earth, won the Best First Novel award from Western Writers of America.

After retiring from the University of Arizona, the Clarks moved to Mrs. Clark’s home in Smithville in 1999, near farm property that had been in her family since after the Civil War. The Clarks’ decision to leave their home and farm property to Texas State “seemed the natural thing to do,” Clark said, “because of the good creative writing program here.” 

Dr. and Mrs. Clark are members of the Texas Institute of Letters.  Dr. Clark now lives in Gainesville, TX.