This is a term faced by almost every writer at some time or another. Then there are those who never seem to have a problem and the words flow out or better yet spew out in great quantities.

Over the years of writing for a variety of publications, I have had a pause now and then. However, this was not the case for a couple of Parker County authors, who fashioned a host of material and gained some fame for doing it.

Two of these word jockeys are not likely to be associated with the county although one was born here and the other attended high school here. Both were quite prolific in their word production and both died at comparatively young ages.

When I was studying journalism and history in school, the story of pulp magazines and books was discussed. Educators mostly ignored this class of writing but it had its place and surprisingly enough, it has hung on.

Today’s movie and video game producers can thank Robert E. Howard for his inspiration. Howard was born in Peaster in 1906 but moved with his family to Cross Plains, near Brownwood. Howard wrote a tremendous amount of material for pulp magazines.

Best known for his creation of Conan, the Barbarian, the character was a former slave seeking vengeance. Conan had a huge sword with which to do battle. The story was put on the screen in 1982 and it is considered the breakthrough role for Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Howard was also known for Red Sonja, Kull the Conqueror and Solomon Kane. The characters and story ideas are standards today.

While he produced a lot of material, his own life was cut short. His mother died of cancer in 1936 and after going into depression, Howard killed himself. He is buried in the Brownwood cemetery and is honored with a state historical marker.

The other county author who produced a number of books was not born here but moved here with his parents. Ben Knox Green was born in Cumby in 1912 and his family moved to Weatherford where he attended high school.

An attempt for the Texas legislature came when he was 23. He led the primary but was defeated in the runoff.

Green fell in love with horses as a boy and the love affair lasted his whole life. Most of Green’s life was spent as a cowboy. He bred horses and was around them most of his life. His books became a part of classic Western writing.

A man who traveled widely, Green claimed or denied attending Texas A&M, Cornell and the Royal College of Veterinary Medicine in England at one time or another. Experience was his best teacher.

It was a chance meeting with New York publisher Alfred A. Knopf that started him on a writing career. His first book, Horse Tradin’, was followed by Wild Cow Tales, The Village Horse Doctor and Some More Horse Tradin’. Hailed by critics, the books became classic Western Americana.

Green was awarded the Writer’s Award for contributions to Western literature from the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City. He also received the Texas Institute of Letters career award for his contribution to writing.

The cowboy writer published 11 books between 1967 and 1974. He owned the only herd of registered Devon cattle in Texas on his ranch at Cumby and also raised Percheron and quarter horses.

Green died of heart failure while sitting in his car on a northwest Kansas roadside Oct. 5. 1974.

Parker County has been blessed with an unusual number of writers, both male and female.


Vandagriff is a retired daily newspaper editor, college history professor

emeritus who still writes, teaches

and speaks. Contact him at or