Author Profile

Stephen Harrigan

Stephen Harrigan

Stephen Harrigan is the author of twelve books of fiction and non-fiction, including A Friend of Mr. Lincoln, The Gates of the Alamo, which became a New York Times bestseller and Notable Book, and received a number of awards, including the TCU Texas Book Award, the Western Heritage Award from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, and the Spur Award for Best Novel of the West. Remember Ben Clayton, was published by Knopf in 2011 and praised by Booklist as a "stunning work of art" and by The Wall Street Journal as "a poignantly human monument to our history." Remember Ben Clayton also won a Spur Award, as well as the Jesse H. Jones Award from the Texas Institute of Letters and the James Fenimore Cooper Prize, given by the Society of American Historians for the best work of historical fiction. 


In the Spring of 2013, the University of Texas Press published a career-spanning volume of his essays, The Eye of the Mammoth, which reviewers called "masterful” (from a starred review in Publishers Weekly), “enchanting and irresistible” (the Dallas Morning News) and written with “acuity and matchless prose” (Booklist). His novel Aransas, originally published in 1980, was reprinted in 2014 by University of Texas Press to more critical acclaim. 


Among the many movies Harrigan has written for television are HBO’s award-winning "The Last of His Tribe," starring Jon Voight and Graham Greene, and "King of Texas," a western retelling of Shakespeare’s King Lear for TNT, which starred Patrick Stewart, Marcia Gay Harden, and Roy Scheider. His most recent television production was "The Colt," an adaptation of a short story by the Nobel-prize winning author Mikhail Sholokhov, which aired on The Hallmark Channel. For his screenplay of "The Colt," Harrigan was nominated for a Writers Guild Award and the Humanitas Prize. Young Caesar, a feature adaptation of Conn Iggulden’s “Emperor” novels, which he co-wrote with William Broyles, Jr., is currently in development with Exclusive Media.

His most recent book is Big Wonderful Thing, a sweeping narrative of Texas from prehistory to the present, published by the University of Texas Press. In a review for The Wall Street Journal, Willard Spiegelman noted that the book is “brimming with sass, intelligence, trenchant analysis, literary acumen and juicy details. . . It is popular history at its best.” And Michael Schaub, in his review for NPR, wrote that “It’s hard to think of another writer with as much Lone Star credibility as Stephen Harrigan. . . Harrigan, essentially, is to Texas literature what Willie Nelson is to Texas music.”

A 1971 graduate of the University of Texas, Harrigan lives in Austin, where he is a faculty fellow at UT’s James A. Michener Center for Writers and a writer-at-large for Texas Monthly. He is also a founding member of CAST (Capital Area Statues, Inc.) an organization in Austin that commissions monumental works of art as gifts to the city. He is the recipient of the Texas Book Festival’s Texas Writers Award, the Lon Tinkle Award for lifetime achievement from the Texas Institute of Letters, and was recently inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame. Stephen Harrigan and his wife Sue Ellen have three daughters and two grandchildren.

For more about Stephen and his works, go to

Reviews of A Friend of Mr. Lincoln

Harrigan's standout novel shows the endurance of friendship, and historical fans will find much to savor.
-- Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

A novel that concentrates on Lincoln's early years in Illinois, from his friendship with the (fictional) poet Cage Weatherby to his (altogether too real) relationship with Mary Todd. A narrative that presents keen insights into Lincoln's complex personality.
-- Kirkus Review,

Reviews of Remember Ben Clayton

A poignantly human monument to our history.
-- The Wall Street Journal,

A stunning work of art... The story builds with determined momentum, providing a grimly vivid sense of place and deep insight into the creative process and family relationships.
-- Booklist, Starred Review

Videos featuring Stephen Harrigan

Texas Monthly Video Interview