Don Graham brings together the history, color, and character of Texas' capital city since 1839 when it was selected, on the advice of Mirabeau B. Lamar, as the site for a new capital of the then - Republic of Texas. Essays, fiction, and poetry reveal the variety of literary responses to Austin through the decades and are organized in a roughly chronological fashion to reveal the themes, places, and personalities that have defined the life of the city. Austin was always about three things: natural beauty, government, and education; thus, many of the pieces in this volume dwell upon one and sometimes all of these themes. Besides O. Henry, the other most important literary figures in the city's history were J. Frank Dobie, Roy Bedichek, and Walter P. Webb: folklorist, naturalist, historian. During their heyday, from the 1930s through the early 1960s, they were the face of literary culture in the city. They remain a source of interest, pride, and sometimes controversy. Austin is a well-known haven of liberal political activism, represented by such well-known figures as Lyndon B.
Johnson, Ralph Yarborough, Ann and David Richards, Liz Carpenter, Willie Morris, John Henry Faulk, and Molly Ivins. The city is also a haven for literary writers, many of whom appear in these pages: Carolyn Osborn, Rolando Hinojosa-Smith, Dagoberto Gilb, Stephen Harrigan, and Lawrence Wright, to name a few. Among the poets, Thomas Whitbread, Dave Oliphant, David Wevill, and Christopher Middleton have long been on the scene. Certain sites recur - the University Tower, Barton Springs, various watering holes of another kind - so that anybody who has ever spent time in Austin will experience twinges of nostalgia for vanished icons, closed-down venues, and long-gone sites of pleasure brought to life once again, in these pages.