Born in 1898 in Barnes, Kansas, DOROTHY THOMAS would move to Bethany,
a suburb of Lincoln, after her father's death in 1910. She attended Cotner
College and the University of Nebraska, where she earned a third-grade teaching
certificate, later teaching in Gering, Tryon, Scottsbluff, and finally at Elliot
Elementary School in Lincoln. It was 1928 when she decided to dedicate her life
to her writing: "Sink or swim, I would risk everything, work at whatever jobs
I could get, and write for my life and my living." Her gamble succeeded, and
she was able to support her family, even through the economically turbulent
30s, with money earned from here writing. A fiction writer and a familiar
figure in Lincoln's bohemian literary scene throughout the 20s and 30s, one
of "Wimberly's Boys" and a close friend of Loren Eiseley, DH and Frieda
Lawrence, Mary Austin, and other important literary figures of the period.
She counted HL Mencken among her admirers. And Harold Ross, first editor of
The New Yorker, is said to have praised her story "The Getaway" as
"the best damn story ever in The New Yorker." Her books include
Ma Jeeter's Girls (Alfred A Knopf, 1931) and
The Home Place (Alfred A Knopf, 1936),
books that were published as novels but which were actually loose collections of story,
making Thomas one of the earliest practitioners of the "novel-in-stories" technique
popular in recent years.
Christine Pappas has edited a
collection of her short fiction, The Getaway and Other Stories
(University of Nebraska Press, 2002).
In 1934, Thomas made her first trip to Santa Fe, renting
a cottage from Mary Austin (The Land of Little Rain), the same cottage in
which Willa Cather had written Death Comes for the Archbishop. In Santa Fe
she found the lively literary community she craved, as she did in 1935 when she
spent time at Yaddo, the writers colony at Saratoga Springs, NY. She died in 1990.
Among the many treasures of the Jane Pope Geske Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors
(Bennett Martin Public Library, 14th and N Streets, Lincoln, NE) is the Dorothy