University of Texas, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Tom Lea:

An Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Descriptive Summary

Creator Lea, Tom, 1907- .
Title Tom Lea Papers
Dates: 1889-1974 (bulk 1937-1974)
Abstract: These papers consist primarily of notes, manuscripts, page proofs, drawings, and layouts for several of Lea's fiction and non-fiction works. Also included is correspondence concerning editing and publication issues. The Ransom Center's Art Collection contains a large number of Lea's paintings and drawings.
RLIN Record # TXRC96-A15
Extent 5 boxes, 4 oversize boxes, 5 oversize flat files, and 2 galley folders (2.08 linear feet)
Language English.
Repository Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Tom Lea, artist and writer, was born in El Paso, Texas on July 11, 1907. After displaying a natural aptitude for painting and drawing as a child, Lea received formal training at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1924 to 1926 and as apprentice and assistant to the Chicago muralist John Norton from 1927 to 1932. In 1930, Lea traveled to Italy to study the techniques of Renaissance wall painting. One of his early murals "The Nesters," painted in the Post Office Department Building in Washington, D. C., won a national competition in 1935. There followed a commission to paint the mural, "Pass of the North," in the United States Court House in El Paso. J. Frank Dobie commissioned Lea to illustrate two of his books from this period, Apache Gold and Yaqui Silver (1939) and The Longhorns (1940). During World War II, Life magazine hired Lea as a combination war correspondent-artist to cover the war in the Pacific.

Lea's experiences during the war supplied him with ample material as a writer, leading to the publication of A Grizzly from the Coral Sea (1944) and Peleliu Landing (1945). Lea's lifelong friend Carl Hertzog, a book designer, printed both books as well as Lea's Bullfight Manual for Spectators (1949). After the war, Lea began to write fiction, including The Brave Bulls (1949), The Wonderful Country (1952), The Primal Yoke (1960), and The Hands of Cantú (1964). The Brave Bulls won the Carr P. Collins Award of the Texas Institute of Letters for best book by a Texan, and The Hands of Cantú won the Texas Institute's Jesse Jones Award for the best work of fiction by a Texan. Both The Brave Bulls and The Wonderful Country were produced as motion pictures. Lea continued to write non-fiction, including the two-volume The King Ranch (1957), A Picture Gallery (1968), and an account of King Ranch operations in Australia, In the Crucible of the Sun (1974).

As an artist, Lea was commissioned by Life magazine in 1946 to paint a series of canvases depicting Western cattle, which Life presented to the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. In 1953, the University of Texas Press published Tom Lea: a Portfolio of Six Paintings with an Introduction by J. Frank Dobie. Lea's first large exhibition was mounted in 1961 at the Fort Worth Art Center. Lea has also had exhibitions at the El Paso Museum of Art and the Institute of Texan Cultures in San Antonio.

Tom Lea died in 2001 in El Paso.

Scope and Contents

The Tom Lea Collection consists of typescript and holograph manuscripts, printed books and pamphlets, prospectuses, photographs, galleys, page proofs, pasteups, mockups, layouts, drawings, transparencies, dust jackets, postcards, correspondence, printed advertisements, invitations, clippings, newspapers, programs, tickets, and a menu. The collection is arranged in two series: I. Fiction (1927-1964, bulk 1949-1964; 2 boxes), and II. Non-Fiction (1889-1974, bulk 1937-1974; 3 boxes). The materials are arranged alphabetically by title within each series.

The Fiction series includes material relating to The Brave Bulls, The Hands of Cantú, The Primal Yoke, and The Wonderful Country. The Brave Bulls includes typed and holograph notes and a typed and holograph biography of the fictional bullfighter Luis Bello Garcia. The bulk consists of background material, including typescripts of Spanish-language bullfighting articles, a typescript titled "The Land of Gold," a guidebook, a typescript article and notes on the Spanish bullfighter Manolete, photographs and other images of bullfighters, a photograph and other images of the Virgin Mary, correspondence, a pamphlet titled "Cantares Flamencos," programs, tickets, advertisements, and invitations. The Hands of Cantú material consists of notes, a drawing, galleys, a typescript printer's copy, incomplete page proofs, a pasteup and proof of the dust jacket, and correspondence. The Primal Yoke material includes galleys, a page proof, proofs and pasteups of chapter headings, and a mockup of the dust jacket. The Wonderful Country is represented by notes, a point outline by Bob Parrish, a story outline, shot sequences, a typescript of the screenplay by Maurice Zimm, typescripts of the screenplay by Tom Lea, correspondence, and a map drawn by Tom Lea.

The Non-Fiction series includes material relating to the Bullfight Manual for Spectators, the Calendar of Twelve Travelers through the Pass of the North, the Exhibition of Preliminary Drawings for a Mural in the Lobby of the United States Court House, El Paso, Texas by Tom Lea, In the Crucible of the Sun, The King Ranch, Peleliu Landing, A Picture Gallery, and Westward Bound: a Hundred Years Ago. The material for the Bullfight Manual includes a pasteup, page proofs, a proof copy, and both small and large format printed copies. The Calendar includes a printed sheet, a holograph draft of "El Paso del Norte," a typescript, a page proof, a proof of the illustration "Don Diego de Vargas, the Warrior," and a menu. The Exhibition of Preliminary Drawings includes the exhibition catalog and correspondence. For In the Crucible of the Sun, there are a corrected typescript, typescript photocopies, typescript captions for the illustrations, two layouts, page proofs, an unbound proof copy, a sketchbook, photographic transparencies, an illustration layout, proofs of illustrations, and correspondence. The King Ranch includes a typescript with chapters 1 and 2 in page proof, instructions to the printer, typed footnotes, incomplete page proofs, a prospectus, and correspondence. The Peleliu Landing material consists of two notebooks, U. S. Navy and U. S. S. Ormsby documents, typescripts of a poem and songs written by marines and sailors, photocopies of drawings, photographic negatives, Japanese postcards, military identification cards, an aerial photograph of Peleliu, and correspondence. A Picture Gallery consists of lists of illustrations for Life and the Saturday Evening Post, laid in a binding. Westward Bound is represented by page proofs and correspondence. In addition, there is a proof copy of a program titled "Fort Bliss One-hundredth Anniversary 1848-1948"with pageant and parade instructions and correspondence; a typescript essay, "Homer Lea," as well as clippings; a typescript titled "A Report from the Advisory Commission on Church Art and Ornamentation [by the] Diocese of New Mexico and Southwest Texas" and correspondence; a leaflet titled "Art and Religion: a Symposium on the New Encounter"; and a pamphlet titled "Stained Glass Designs of McKee Chapel in the Church of Saint Clement," including a program from the church, drawings of the window designs, and a pasteup for the pamphlet.

The correspondence is primarily professional in nature, concerning textual suggestions from colleagues and details of publication. The correspondence from Carl Hertzog touches on the design and production of the books on which he and Lea collaborated. The correspondence from Robert Parrish suggests improvements to the screenplay The Wonderful Country.



Open for research

Index Terms

Hertzog, Carl.
Parrish, Robert.
Artists, American.
King Ranch (Tex.).
World War, 1939-1945.
Southwest, Old.
Southwest, New.
King Ranch, Inc.
Document Types
Galley proofs.

Separated Material

Some of the material in the collection was separated by format upon receipt by the HRHRC. Please consult the following HRHRC collections for further Tom Lea materials: Art, Books, Personal Effects, and Vertical File. In addition, further Tom Lea materials may be found in the card catalog under the following collections: J. Frank Dobie, Harper's, Alfred A. Knopf, Tom Lea, and Carl Sandburg.

Administrative Information


Gift, 1976

Processed by

Ken Craven, 1995; Robert Kendrick, 1996

 Tom Lea Collection--Index of Correspondents 

  • Cisneros--1.2, 1.3
  • Conrad, Barnaby, 1922- --1.3
  • Everitt, Charles P., 1873-1951--5.10
  • Fisher, Reginald G. (Museum of New Mexico)--5.8
  • Fox, Chris P.--3.5
  • González, Roberto E.--1.2
  • Hertzog, Carl--4.7, 5.10
  • Jenkins, George--2.7
  • Maguire, John Walter--1.4
  • Parrish, Robert--2.7
  • Pollard, J. M.--1.2
  • Watson, Forbes, 1880-1960--3.4
  • Zimm, Maurice--2.3

Tom Lea Collection--Folder List


I. Series I. Fiction, 1927-1964 (bulk 1949-1964)

The Brave Bulls [novel, 1949]
box folder
1 1 Miscellaneous typed and holograph notes, typed and holograph biography of fictional bullfighter, Luis Bello Garcia, typescripts of Spanish bullfighting articles, nd; typescript, "The Land of Gold," and correspondence, 1950; guidebook, programs, tickets, advertisements, and invitations, 1927-1949, nd; red ribbon with printed text, 1948; pamphlet, "Cantares Flamencos," and clippings, nd
2 Typescript and notes for article on Manolete, nd; correspondence and clippings, 1946-1947; and bullfighting advertisements and tickets, 1946
3 Photographs of bullfighters, 1944-1945, nd; correspondence, 1954, nd; clippings, 1947, nd; photograph and images of the Virgin Mary, bullfight program, and images of bullfighters, nd
Bullfighting programs and advertisements (removed to Oversize Box 4)
The Hands of Cantú [novel, 1964]
box folder
1 4 Notes and drawing, nd; and correspondence, 1963
5 Typescript printer's copy, 1964
6 Incomplete page proofs and photographs, nd; and pasteup and proof of dust jacket, 1964
Galleys (removed to Galley Files)
The Primal Yoke [novel, 1960]
box folder
2 1 Page proof, proofs and pasteups of chapter heads, and mockup of dust jacket, nd
Galleys (removed to Galley Files)
Black and white and color proofs of dust jacket, nd (removed to Oversize Box 1)
The Wonderful Country [screenplay by Maurice Zimm from the novel by Tom Lea, 1955]
box folder
2 2 Early incomplete typescripts, 1955
3 Typescript and correspondence, nd
4 Point outline by Bob Parrish, miscellaneous notes, and shot sequences, 1955
5 Story outline, nd; and correspondence, 1956
6 Typescripts of screenplay by Lea, 1955
7 Correspondence, 1955
8 Typescript book reviews, nd
Map, titled "Brazito, Christmas Day, 1846," drawn by Tom Lea (removed to Oversize Flat Files)


Series II. Non-Fiction, 1889-1974 (bulk 1937-1974)

box folder
3 1 Bullfight Manual for Spectators [pamphlet, 1949]. Pasteup, [1949?]; page proofs, proof copy, small format copy, all 1949; and two large format copies, 1954
Calendar of Twelve Travelers through the Pass of the North [book, 1946]
box folder
3 2 Printed sheet of the Settler and the Visionary, with holograph note by Carl Hertzog, nd; holograph draft of "El Paso del Norte,"nd; typescript, and page proof, nd
3 Proof of "Don Diego de Vargas, the Warrior,"nd; and menu from Hotel Paso del Norte, nd
4 Exhibition of Preliminary Drawings for a Mural in the Lobby of the United States Court House, El Paso, Texas by Tom Lea[exhibition catalog, 1937]. Catalog, 1937; and correspondence, 1937-1939
5 "Fort Bliss One-hundredth Anniversary 1848-1948"[program, 1948]. Proof copy, and pageant and parade instructions, with correspondence, 1948
6 "Homer Lea" [essay, 1942]. Typescript, 1942; and clippings, 1919-1942
In the Crucible of the Sun [book, 1974]
box folder
3 7 Corrected typescript, nd
8 Typescript photocopies, nd
box folder
4 1 Typescript illustration captions, 1974
2 Page proofs, [1973]
3 Sketchbook of original drawings for the book, photographic transparencies of illustrations, and transparencies of text, nd; and correspondence, 1974
Illustration proofs (removed to Oversize Box 1)
Two layouts, and unbound proof copy, [1974] (removed to Oversize Box 2)
Layout of illustrations, and page proofs, nd (removed to Oversize Box 3)
The King Ranch [book, 1957]
box folder
4 4-5 Typescript, with chapters 1-2 in page proof, nd
6 Instructions to printer, and typed footnotes, nd
7 Incomplete page proofs, nd; and prospectus, signed and dated by Carl Hertzog, with holograph note to Frank Connally on verso, 1958
Peleliu Landing [book, 1945]
box folder
5 1 Two notebooks, nd
2 Corrected typescript, nd
3 Prospectus, 1945; and order form, nd
4 U. S. Navy documents, U.S.S. Ormsby documents, and typescripts of poem and songs, 1944
5 Photocopies of drawings with U. S. Navy security clearance stamp, 1945; photographic negatives of drawings, and Japanese postcards, nd
6 Military identification cards, and clippings, 1944
Box of sand from Peleliu, nd (removed to Personal Effects)
Life article "Peleliu: Tom Lea Paints Island Invasion,"nd (removed to Oversize Flat Files)
Aerial photograph of Peleliu, nd (removed to Oversize Box 4)
box folder
5 7 A Picture Gallery [book, 1968]. Lists of illustrations for Life and the Saturday Evening Post, nd
8 "A Report from the Advisory Commission on Church Art and Ornamentation [by the] Diocese of New Mexico and Southwest Texas"[report, 1954]. Typescript and correspondence, 1954; and leaflet titled "Art and Religion: a Symposium on the New Encounter,"1953
"Stained Glass Designs of McKee Chapel in the Church of Saint Clement" [pamphlet, 1953]
box folder
5 9 Program, Church of Saint Clement, 1953; drawings for stained glass windows, nd; and pasteup for the pamphlet, 1953
One drawing for stained glass windows (removed to Oversize Flat File)
box folder
5 10 Westward Bound: a Hundred Years Ago [book by George Catlin illustrated by Tom Lea, 1939]. Page proofs, [1939?]; and correspondence, 1939, nd