Barry Benefield

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Barry Benefield (full name John Barry Benefield ) (May 12, 1877 Jefferson, Texas – Sept. 22, 1971 Jefferson, Texas) was an American writer, some of whose books were adapted for the cinema. His being born and spending much of his life in Texas is more than a biographical detail: Benefield had been mentioned as "One of The Lone Star writers", who "Followed the Southern tradition". [1]

Life[edit]

Barry Benefield was the son of Benjamin Jefferson Benefield (1839–1928), who run a wagon yard/feed store and of Harriet Adelaide née Barry (1850–1915),[2] who was herself a writer and who would encourage him to do the same.

He was born in Jefferson at a time when it was a major East Texas city, though its decline – due to becoming inaccessible to river traffic – happened in his own early years.

Benefield's father had a wagon yard where he worked in his youth. At that time the young Barry Benefield gained much knowledge of the region's character and lore, which would later influence his literary work. In 1897 his family purchased a house built in the 1860s, which would remain in Benefield's possession and where he would spend his last years.

Benefield graduated from the University of Texas and became a journalist and afterwards a novelist.

His wife was Lucille Stallcup (1886–1960), a fellow native of Jefferson. They were married at Chicago in 1914. Lucille died at New York in 1960.

Some of Benefield's books, such as "Valiant Is the Word for Carrie" (1935), are written from the point of view of a Southerner who feels an exile living in the North, and who longs for the more carefree life of a small Southern town. This may have reflected the writer's own feeling. In retirement, Benefield returned to Jefferson and lived in his old family home until his death at the age of 94.

Works[edit]

Books[edit]

  • The chicken-wagon family (1925) - adapted to a film
  • Short turns (1926)
  • Bugles in the night (1927)
  • A little clown lost (1928)
  • Valiant is the word for Carrie (1935) ) - adapted to a film
  • April was when it began (1939)
  • Eddie and the archangel Mike (1943)

Stories (partial)[edit]

"Daughters of Joy" The Smart Set "Bachelor Embalmerus," The Smart Set "Jerry," The Smart Set, August 1913

Bibliography[edit]

  • Prof. Donald W. Hatley, “Folklore in the Short Fiction of Barry Benefield,”, Mississippi Quarterly, XXI, No. 1 (Winter, 1967–68), pp. 63–75, [1],
  • Barry Benefield Papers 1911-1937, (collection of literary productions), deposited at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin, [2]

Critical Opinion[edit]

"Jefferson native Barry Benefield was a writer who had serious intentions, but his work now seems dated and flat. The first section of his novel Valiant Is the Word for Carrie is excellent, but the rest of the novel is trivial. Nevertheless, Carrie was made into a film." (James Ward Lee, " Adventures with a Texas humanist" [3])

References[edit]

  1. ^ James Ward Lee, "Adventures with a Texas humanist"
  2. ^ "Family Tree", Descendants of Christopher Tackett (among whom was Barry Benefield) [4]

External links[edit]