Reliably Austin
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Texas Women’s History Month: The Tejana Novelist Behind 'El Mesquite'

Born in Hidalgo County, Maria Elena Zamora O’Shea vindicated the Tejano presence of the state with her 1935 novela El Mesquite. Her efforts counteracted the Anglo-Texan Centennial celebration of Texas Independence, which largely ignored the Tejano presence in the state.

To tell her story, she drew from family records and her own research. Written from the point of view of a mesquite tree, the book includes details of cultural traditions and women’s work.


In addition to writing, Zamora O’Shea taught school for 23 years, raised two children with her husband Daniel O’Shea, and served as a translator for Sears-Roebuck.


Today, Zamora O’Shea’s book is considered a major contribution to Mexican-American literature.


This month, KUT is partnering with the Ruthe Winegarten Foundation to celebrate Women's History Month. Every day, we'll bring you a short feature spotlighting a historic woman, movement, or group of women in Texas.