Award-winning Western author John Erickson, creator of Hank the Cowdog, will share how he combines personal and Panhandle history in works like his classic book, Prairie Gothic, at a 7:30 p.m. presentation Tuesday, March 20 at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Hazlewood Lecture Hall. The event is sponsored by West Texas A&M University’s Center for the Study of the American West (CSAW).
The presentation, titled “Prairie Gothic: Writing Regional History,” will be followed by a book signing and reception with coffee sponsored by Palace Coffee, desserts courtesy of Joe’s Catering and champagne donated by Southern Glazers Wine & Spirits.
Throughout his career, Erickson has written and published more than 75 books and 600 articles. Although he is best known as the author of the Hank the Cowdog series, his collection of work also includes numerous non-fiction works, including Prairie Gothic, Through Time and the Valley and Story Craft. Erickson’s stories have received numerous accolades including the Audie, Oppenheimer, Wrangler and Lamplighter Awards. The Hank series, which began in 1983 through Erickson’s garage-based publishing company, Maverick Books, has become one of the nation’s most popular children’s series. Through the voice of Hank, a witty, smart-aleck cowdog, Erickson provides readers with a palatable yet well-documented chronicle of ranch life in the West Texas Panhandle.
Erickson, born in Midland to Joseph and Anna Beth Erickson, graduated from Perryton High School before spending a year at the University of Denver. After finishing his bachelor’s degree at the University of Texas, he studied theology at Harvard Divinity School for two years, before moving back to Texas just three hours short of earning a master’s degree. Back in Texas, Erickson worked as a cowboy in the panhandles of Oklahoma and Texas. During this time, he began seriously pursuing his career as an author, dedicating four hours to writing each morning. After receiving rejection slips from numerous publishers, Erickson and his wife Kris started Maverick Books in 1982. The first Hank book was released the following year.
Today, Maverick Books continues to serve as publisher for the Hank series, which Publishers Weekly calls a “grassroots publishing phenomena.” Erickson still resides in Perryton and has visited numerous schools and spoken at conventions of teachers, librarians and homeschoolers.
About the Center for the Study of the American West
CSAW formed in the fall of 2016 with a mission of fostering the study of the American West at WTAMU and building bridges between the university, the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum and the regional populace. CSAW seeks to promote the American West both as a culturally unique region and a product of broad historical forces. Through this endeavor, CSAW remains dedicated to cultivating a critical vision of region and place in a globalized era. For more information about CSAW, please visit wtamu.edu/csaw.