Hugh Prather

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Hugh Edmondson Prather III (January 23, 1938 – November 15, 2010) was an American self-help writer, lay minister, and counselor, most famous for his first book, Notes to Myself, which was first published in 1970 by Real People Press,[1] and later reprinted by Bantam Books. It has sold over 5 million copies, and has been translated into ten languages.

Family, early life, and education[edit]

Hugh Prather's father, Hugh Prather, Jr., grandfather, Hugh Prather, Sr., and great grandfather John S. Armstrong, contributed to the growth of the city of Dallas, Texas. With his father-in-law John S. Armstrong and Armstrong's other son-in-law Edgar Flippen, Prather, Sr., helped plan and build the town of Highland Park, which is now part of the enclave Park Cites surrounded by the city of Dallas.[2] In 1931, Armstrong and his two sons-in-law built Highland Park Village, the first planned shopping center in the United States.[3] Hugh Prather, Jr., ran the shopping center after his father's death.[2]

Hugh Prather III was born in Dallas and earned a bachelor's degree at Southern Methodist University in 1966 after study at Principia College and Columbia University. He studied at the University of Texas at the graduate level without taking a degree.


While he could be categorized as a New Age writer, Prather drew on Christian language and themes and seemed comfortable conceiving of God in personal terms. His work underscored the importance of gentleness, forgiveness, and loyalty; declined to endorse dramatic claims about the power of the individual mind to effect unilateral transformations of external material circumstances; and stressed the need for the mind to let go of destructive cognitions in a manner not unlike that encouraged by the cognitive-behavioral therapy of Aaron T. Beck and the rational emotive behavior therapy commended by Albert Ellis.

His first book, Notes to Myself: My Struggle to Become a Person, began as a journal that he impulsively submitted to a publisher.[4] The book became "a phenomenon" of the 1970s, according to The New York Times, and as of 2010 it remained in print.[4] Prather's dog Moosewood was named in the book and inspired the name of the Moosewood Restaurant.[4] The book was later parodied by humorist Jack Handey with his "Deep Thoughts".[4]

Together with his second wife, Gayle Prather, whom he married in 1965, he wrote The Little Book of Letting Go, I Touch the Earth, The Earth Touches Me, How to Live in the World and Still Be Happy, I Will Never Leave You: How Couples Can Achieve The Power Of Lasting Love, Spiritual Notes to Myself: Essential Wisdom for the 21st Century, Shining Through: Switch on Your Life and Ground Yourself in Happiness, Spiritual Parenting: A Guide to Understanding and Nurturing the Heart of Your Child, Standing on My Head: Life Lessons in Contradictions, A Book of Games: A Course in Spiritual Play, Love and Courage, Notes to Each Other, A Book for Couples, The Quiet Answer, and There is a Place Where You Are Not Alone.


Prather died on November 15, 2010, in the hot tub of his Tucson, Arizona home, apparently of a heart attack. He is survived by his immediate family—wife Gayle Prather, his son from a previous marriage, Perry Scott Prather, and their two sons, John and Jordan—and his siblings Alan A. Prather, Joan Prather, and Jeffrey P. Prather.[4]


  1. ^ "Jobless Author's Diary". Star-News. December 27, 1977. 
  2. ^ a b Brown, Steve (January 10, 2010). "Hugh E. Prather Jr.: Icon of Early 20th Century Dallas Real Estate Industry". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved March 30, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Legacy". Highland Park Village. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Fox, Margalit (November 21, 2010). "Hugh Prather, Popular Self-Help Author, Dies at 72". The New York Times. Retrieved March 30, 2015. 

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