Nancy Wood (author)

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Nancy Wood
Nancy Wood 1961.jpg
Wood in 1961
Born (1936-06-20)June 20, 1936
Trenton, New Jersey, United States
Died March 12, 2013(2013-03-12) (aged 76)
Eldorado, New Mexico, United States
Occupation Writer, photographer
Nationality American
Alma mater Bucknell University
Period 1963–2013
Genre Poetry, children's literature

Nancy Wood (June 20, 1936 – March 12, 2013)[1] was an American author, poet, and photographer. Wood published numerous collections of poetry as well as children's novels, fiction, and nonfiction. Major themes and influences in her work were Native American culture of the Southwestern United States.

Her career, which spanned over five decades, included 28 publications of prose and poetry, and several photograph collections. Wood was a National Endowment for the Arts fellow, and a recipient of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award.

Early life[edit]

Wood was born to an Irish Catholic family in Trenton, New Jersey, where she was raised.[1] She began work as a writer at 14 at the Beachcomber newspaper on Long Beach Island, NJ. She attended Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.


Wood moved to Colorado in 1958, where she lived until 1985 when she moved to New Mexico. After visiting Taos Pueblo in New Mexico in 1962, Wood became greatly influenced by the Puebloan peoples' culture and spiritual beliefs, which would come to inform her literary work.[2] "It was 180 degrees from what I knew growing up," she said. "Nature was the center. I began to think in those terms— here was not just a 'religion' but a whole way of being and seeing."[1]

Originally working as a writer, her first book was a collaboration with husband and photographer Myron Wood, titled Central City: A Ballad of the West (1963).[1] Her first work of poetry was published by Doubleday in 1974, titled Many Winters: Prose and Poetry of the Pueblos, inspired by her time spent in the Taos Pueblo.[3] This would mark a lasting collaboration with illustrator Frank Howell, who provided artwork and illustrations for Wood's publications until his death in 1997.[2] She would go on to publish numerous collections of poetry into the 2000s, as well as novels and photograph collections.

Wood also published children's books, including How the Tiny People Grew Tall: An Original Creation Tale (2005), and Mr. and Mrs. God in the Creation Kitchen (2006), both of which recount traditional tales of the Pueblo people, as well as Thunderwoman (1999), which retells a Pueblo creation myth.[2] In 2007, Wood published Eye of the West through University of New Mexico Press, followed by The Soledad Crucifixion, which earned her a posthumous Zia Award from the university.[4]

Wood received many honors throughout her career, including a National Endowment for the Arts literary fellowship, and a Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award for her 1993 book, Spirit Walker.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Wood was married three times: first to Oscar Dull, then Myron Wood, and John Brittingham.[1] She had four children.[1] In early 2013, Wood was diagnosed with terminal melanoma.[1] She died at her home in Eldorado at Santa Fe, New Mexico on March 12, 2013.[1]


Novels and non-fiction[edit]

  • In This Proud Land: America, 1935-1943, New York Graphic Society (New York, NY), 1973.
  • The Man Who Gave Thunder to the Earth: A Taos Way of Seeing and Understanding, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1976.
  • The King of Liberty Bend, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1976.
  • The Grass Roots People: An American Requiem, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1978.
  • War Cry on a Prayer Feather: Prose and Poetry of the Ute Indians, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1979.
  • When Buffalo Free the Mountains: The Survival of America's Ute Indians, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1980.
  • Heartland New Mexico: Photographs from the Farm Administration, 1935-1943, University of New Mexico Press (Albuquerque, NM), 1989.
  • Taos Pueblo, Knopf (New York, NY), 1989.
  • Eye of the West, University of New Mexico Press (Albuquerque, NM), 2007.
  • The Soledad Crucifixion, University of New Mexico Press (Albuquerque, NM), 2012.
  • The Last Five Dollar Baby, Harper & Row (New York, NY) 1972.

Children's works[edit]

  • Little Wrangler, photographs by Myron Wood, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1966.
  • Hollering Sun, photographs by Myron Wood, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1972.
  • Many Winters: Prose and Poetry of the Pueblos, illustrated by Frank Howell, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1974.
  • Spirit Walker, illustrated by Frank Howell, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1993.
  • Dancing Moons, illustrated by Frank Howell, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1995.
  • The Girl Who Loved Coyotes: Stories of the Southwest, illustrated by Diana Bryer, Morrow Junior Books (New York, NY), 1995.
  • Shaman's Circle, illustrated by Frank Howell, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1996.
  • Sacred Fire: Poetry and Prose, illustrated by Frank Howell, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1998.
  • Thunderwoman: A Mythic Novel of the Pueblos, illustrated by Richard Erdoes, Dutton (New York, NY), 1999.
  • Old Coyote, illustrated by Max Grafe, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2004.
  • How the Tiny People Grew Tall: An Original Creation Tale, illustrated by Rebecca Walsh, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2005.
  • Mr. and Mrs. God in the Creation Kitchen, illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2006.

Awards and honors[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Sharpe, Tom (March 13, 2013). "Nancy Wood, 1936-2013: Writer, photographer found new 'way of being and seeing' in New Mexico". Santa Fe New Mexican. Retrieved October 9, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d Gale, Thomson. "Wood, Nancy C. 1936–2013". Retrieved October 9, 2016. 
  3. ^ Manhaz, Dar (March 13, 2013). "Poet, Photographer Nancy Wood Dies at 76". School Library Journal. Retrieved October 8, 2016. 
  4. ^ "Zia Award Recognizes Three Outstanding Fiction Authors". New Mexico Press Women. April 29, 2013. Retrieved October 9, 2016. 

External links[edit]