Printed From North Texas e-News (ntxe-news.com)
Austin College hosts lecture
on mysterious history
By Austin College
SHERMAN, TEXAS—Alice (Wilson) Specht
and Mary Helen Specht,
a mother/daughter research and writing team, will present findings on the
mysterious disappearance in 1925 of Gertrude Beasley of Abilene, Texas, in a
lecture at Austin College on Monday March 5, at 4:30 p.m. in Wright Campus
Center, Room 231. The presentation is free and open to the
The team has researched the
life and writing of Beasley, who, in 1925, wrote a scathing memoir, My
First Thirty Years, which included stories of abuse and sexual violence.
She subsequently disappeared after the book was banned in the United States
and Britain. An inquiry from author Larry McMurtry
set the mother/daughter team on the trail of the author, and Mary Helen,
through her work as a writer, is making the life and writing of Gertrude
Beasley known to the public.
Specht and her daughter, Mary Helen Specht
The lecture will provide an
overview of My First Thirty Years and introduce biographical
information related to Beasley's life in Abilene and what is known of her
life after the publication of her memoir.
Gertrude Beasley's My
First Thirty Years is a stunning Texas coming-of-age story, and more
people ought to know about it, said Randi Tanglen,
Austin College assistant professor of English who is hosting the event. This
opportunity to hear from Alice and Mary Helen will allow students to consider
the artistic and literary significance of lost and seemingly obscure
literature such as Beasley's memoir.
In addition to the public
lecture, the writers will visit Tanglen's English
senior seminar, Recovery Projects in the Literary Archive.
has been Dean of University Libraries at Hardin-Simmons University since
2002, and has been a librarian at HSU since 1981. She is a board member for
the Grace Museum and has an amateur interest in local and regional history.
She earned a bachelor's degree from Raymond College, University of the Pacific,
a master's degree in librarianship from Emory University, and an MBA from
A Fulbright recipient and
Dobie Paisano Fellow, Mary Helen Specht has written fiction and essays that have been
published widely, including work in The New York Times, The Texas
Observer, The Southwest Review, and Night Train Magazine,
where she won the Richard Yates Short Story Award. She earned a bachelor's
degree at Rice University and a master's degree from Emerson College in
Boston. She also has lived and worked in Santiago, Chile; Quito, Ecuador; and
Austin, Texas, where she has taught creative writing at Austin Community
Austin College is a leading
national independent liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman,
Texas. Founded in 1849, making it the oldest institution of higher education
in Texas operating under original charter and name, the college is related by
covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA). Recognized nationally for academic
excellence in the areas of international education, pre-professional
training, and leadership studies, Austin College is one of 40 schools
profiled in Loren Pope's influential book Colleges
That Change Lives.
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