Gibson, Jewel Henson (1904–1989)

By: Debbie Mauldin Cottrell

Type: Biography

Published: January 1, 1995

Jewel Henson Gibson, author, was born in the East Texas town of Bald Prairie on July 1, 1904, the oldest of six daughters of Jasper N. and Mary Davis Henson. She grew up in a rural area, where her father farmed and her mother wrote an unpublished novel and several plays. In 1922, at age seventeen, she married Felix Adair Gibson, an oil driller. In 1924, after her marriage and the birth of her first son, she graduated from Calvert High School; that year also the Gibsons' second son was born.

In 1926 Mrs. Gibson earned an associate's degree from Westminster College in Tehuacana, Texas. She then began teaching high school English and speech, a career she continued for many years in small oil towns in central and southeastern Texas. She continued her education at Sam Houston State Teachers College (later Sam Houston State University) in Huntsville, where she earned a bachelor's degree in 1932 and a master's in 1950.

Jewel Gibson began writing her first novel in 1930 and completed it fifteen years later. The book, published by Random House in 1946 as Joshua Beene and God, provided a humorous, satirical account of a fictitious Church of Christ prophet in a small Texas town. Paul Crume of the Dallas Morning News lauded the book for its exploration of the "humor of social criticism," but others did not share his opinion. A ministerial alliance in Conroe condemned Joshua Beene, and other Texans were offended at its fictional setting's resemblance to Gibson's hometown, Bald Prairie. Readers in later years, however, found the book visionary in its satire of religion. In 1950 Random House published Gibson's second novel, Black Gold. In this work the author drew on her knowledge of oilfield drilling to construct a story set in the early twentieth century in an East Texas boomtown. Gibson also wrote several plays, including Brann and the Iconoclast, Miss Ney, and Creep Past the Mountain Lion. The last work, which dealt with racial issues in East Texas, was presented at the Dallas Theater Center in 1966. Joshua Beene was also dramatized and staged at the Dallas Theater Center and at the Alley Theatre in Houston. Gibson also wrote pieces for the Houston Chronicle.

She taught at the University of Houston in 1950–51 and at Sam Houston State University from 1960 to 1970. She was a member of the Texas Institute of Letters, the Texas State Teachers Association, and the American Association of University Women. In the early 1970s she and her husband retired to Corsicana, where she worked as a feature writer for the Corsicana Daily Sun. Mrs. Gibson died in Corsicana on February 7, 1989, and was buried there in Oakwood Cemetery. She was preceded in death by her husband and survived by her two sons, one sister, and several grandchildren. In the 1980s, the Texas Humanities Resource Center (see TEXAS COMMITTEE FOR THE HUMANITIES) included Jewel Gibson in Literary East Texas, a photographic exhibit that traveled the state. In 1989 Corsicana held a Jewel Gibson Literary Festival in her memory.

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Corsicana Daily Sun, February 8, 1989. Foremost Women in Communications (New York: Foremost Americans Publishing Corp., 1970). Wyvonne Putman, comp., Navarro County History (5 vols., Quanah, Texas: Nortex, 1975–84). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Debbie Mauldin Cottrell, “Gibson, Jewel Henson,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 19, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995

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