John Willingham is the author of historical fiction set in texas and essays on major texas literary figures. He has contributed op-eds and essays to the History news network since 2010 and has edited four books on public university honors colleges, cited favorably in the new york times.
An enthusiastic hunter as a young, seventh generation texan who grew up around firearms, John is now a strong supporter of common-sense gun reforms in the u.S., especially in the wake of the horrific murders in Uvalde, Texas. Here is his essay on gun culture: "the real sickness in America."
In April 2023, the Southwestern historical quarterly published his comprehensive essay "Should we 'Forget the Alamo'?: Myths, slavery, and the texas Revolution." The essay reexamines major arguments regarding the causes of the revolution and weighs the assertion that the revolution and the battle of the alamo were fought primarily to defend the institution of slavery. the houston chronicle cited the essay as an example of independent scholarship in its editorial "Texas Historical association is a treasure. its future is under threat. " Here is a summary of the essay on this site. He was the author of the lead essay in the 100th anniversary issue of southwest review (cover to the left). about the works of John Graves and Larry McMurty. (An excerpt is on the next page.) John's literary-historical novel, the last woman, is inspired by the life of Frenchy McCormick, a woman who journeyed through much of frontier america. In the novel, the protagonist's friendships that endure in the face of danger and loss must also confront the religious strictures and cultural subordination of "outcast" women in the west of the 1880s. the narrative is fiction, but it follows the basic timeline and travels of the real Frenchy's life. Readers will find historically accurate descriptions of 19th century Baton Rouge, St. Louis, Dodge City, and the wild cowtown of Tascosa, Texas. In the novel, the heroine's name is Frenchy McGinnis.
He is scheduled to finish a new novel, reconstructions, in late 2024. It tells the story of three rebel soldiers and a mixed-race woman whose paths cross early in the Civil War but take dramatic turns when they all meet again years later amid the chaos of post-war Texas. The woman, Lucy, was inspired by the nineteenth century radical Lucy Parsons.
JOHN HAS A BA WITH HONORS in history AND AN MA IN AMERICAN HISTORY FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN, where his graduate major fields were social and religious history. FOR more than TWENTY YEARS HE WAS AN ELECTIONS ADMINISTRATOR IN TEXAS AND SERVED AS AN OBSERVER AND FACILITATOR IN BOSNIA FOR THE 1998 GENERAL ELECTIONS. IN 2002, HE WAS A MEMBER OF A NATIONAL TASK FORCE ON ELECTION REFORM. A native of Waco, TExas, he resided in Portland, Oregon for 10 years and NOW LIVES in Georgetown, north of Austin. he is a member of the american historical association, the texas state historical association, the western writers of america, and the writers league of texas.