Paul Horgan Biography

Paul Horgan (born Buffalo, New York, 1 August 1903 - died Middletown, Connecticut, 8 March 1995, aged 91) 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."

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.

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.

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 (Wesleyan University Press) (also Bancroft Prize for History) and then once again in 1976 with Lamy of Santa Fe (Wesleyan University Press). 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, 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.

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. 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.