Literary Texas: Katherine Anne Porter, Part 2

Chiseled on a plain, pale gray tombstone in a country graveyard in Texas are the words “IN MY END IS MY BEGINNING.” The phrase lies below the outline of a simple cross, the name KATHERINE ANNE PORTER, and the dates May 15, 1890, and September 1980. This granite marker stands beside a darker but smaller granite obelisk-shaped stone propped upon the grave of Mary Alice Porter, who died in 1892. She was Katherine Anne Porter’s (born Callie Russell Porter) mother.

            Porter, a woman of LETTERS, the expression most often referring to an accomplished author of serious literature, adored T.S. Eliot’s work and adopted her epitaph from the last line of his poem “East Coker.” It is also said to be the phrase Mary, Queen of Scotts embroidered prior to her execution in 1587, a phrase worth contemplating.

            After successes as an author, Porter sometimes discussed her early love of reading and writing. Hers had been a literate family, surrounded by books and Shakespeare’s sonnets, her father once having challenged her to read his personal set of Voltaire’s philosophical dictionary, quite a feat for a young girl. She accepted but claimed it took her five years to complete. As a child ensconced in her grandmother’s house after her own mother’s death, Porter remembered a stern, loving, and genteel existence in Kyle, Texas, a small town near Austin, Southern in style and culture. (Davis, “Katherine Anne Porter, The Art of Fiction).  She remembered, too, as the years went by, the racial prejudices of her time and place, which may account in part for her flirtation with communism during her Mexico years.

            Porter spent much of her adult life away from Texas but apparently could not completely resist its allure, that dust and grit in the blood most Texans understand, that answer to the siren’s call that sometimes dashed her through waves against the rocks of a forbidding sea. Finally, she came to rest in an austere, little graveyard named Indian Creek Cemetery, a few miles from where she was born. She had come full circle, ending where she had begun.

A Pictorial

Katherine Anne Porter’s grave lies next to her mother’s in Indian Creek Cemetery, not far from where she was born.

Work Cited:

Davis, Barbara Thompson. “Katherine Anne Porter, The Art of Fiction.” Paris Review 29

            (Winter-Spring 1963). < -art-of-


2 thoughts on “Literary Texas: Katherine Anne Porter, Part 2

    1. I am amazed at her venturing out so early at a time when people did not travel as much as they do now. She ‘pulled up stakes’ as they say, and made her way. Sometimes, though, there is no place like home. I’ll see if I can come up with a few more cliches.😉

      Liked by 1 person

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