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Krey, Laura Letitia Smith (1890–1985)

Sherilyn Brandenstein Biography Entry

Laura Krey, author, was born in Galveston on December 18, 1890, the only child of Fort and Lettie (Bains) Smith. When her mother died a few months later, Smith took Laura to live with his wife's relatives near Brookshire, Texas. The child was educated by tutors until age twelve, when she went to live with her grandmother near Staunton, Virginia. She attended Mary Baldwin Seminary in Staunton and earned her diploma there. She entered the University of Texas in 1909, excelled academically, and wrote for several campus publications. Upon graduation in 1912 she married August C. Krey, a history professor. He soon joined the faculty at the University of Minnesota, and the couple moved to St. Paul.

The Kreys had a daughter in 1918 and a son in 1923. While raising the children, Laura Krey wrote essays that were published in southern literary magazines. In her mid-forties, she drew on family stories to write the historical novel And Tell of Time, published by Houghton Mifflin in 1938. Reminiscent of Gone With the Wind, the book romanticized Texans' struggles against federal occupation during Reconstruction. Krey's descriptions of the land and the rhythms of rural life enhanced the book's appeal. With sales of 146,000, the novel went through fifteen printings. In 1940 Houghton Mifflin published her second book, On the Long Tide, a Texas colonial story of American and Mexican conflict told from a Texas landowner's perspective. Though a male plantation owner was the central character, the novel's well-drawn female characters and domestic scenes attracted more critical praise.

During the 1940s and 1950s Krey did research on explorer Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and on colonial Virginia in hopes of writing novels about them; but she never completed these. She and her husband returned to Austin upon his retirement in 1955. While caring for him and her son during their illnesses in the 1960s, she put writing on hold. Laura Krey remained in Austin until her death on November 6, 1985. Her remains were buried in a family graveyard at Fulshear, Texas.

Houston Chronicle, August 28, 1938. Proceedings of the Philosophical Society of Texas, 1985.


  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Literature
  • Dramatists and Novelists
  • Fiction
  • Women
  • Authors and Writers

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

Sherilyn Brandenstein, “Krey, Laura Letitia Smith,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 22, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: