McGiffin, Lewis Lee Shaffer (1908–1978)

By: Sherilyn Brandenstein

Type: Biography

Published: May 1, 1995

Lewis Lee Shaffer McGiffin, author, was born in Delphi, Indiana, on October 1, 1908, to Charles Barnes and Daisy L. (Lewis) Shaffer. She attended DePauw University from 1927 to 1929 and completed her B.A. at the University of Alabama in 1931. Under the name Lee Shaffer, she worked as a columnist and fashion editor at the Syracuse, New York, Post-Standard from 1931 to 1935. She went to Buffalo to write for the Evening News the next two years. In July 1937 she married journalist P. Norton McGiffin, and in 1938 the couple moved to St. Petersburg, Florida. They moved to Arlington, Texas, about 1940. Lee wrote commentary for local radio broadcasts during World War II. With the birth of a son in 1943, she devoted more of her time to homemaking. In 1952 she began writing fiction for such magazines as the Saturday Evening Post, Good Housekeeping, and Ladies Home Journal. One of her stories was anthologized in Post Short Stories, and her first two children's books-Ten Tall Texans and The Fifer of San Jacinto-were published in 1956. The New York Herald Tribune awarded Ten Tall Texans its Children's Spring Book Festival Honor Award in 1956. McGiffin switched to the Dutton Company to publish her next eleven juvenile books, beginning with Swords, Stars and Bars. With her husband assisting in research, she wrote historical adventure stories to appeal to twelve-year-old boys. While continuing to write adult short stories, she produced a string of children's books during the next decade. Ride for Texas and Pony Soldier came out in 1960 and 1961 respectively; the latter won the Texas Institute of Letters Juvenile Award. High Whistle Charley (1962) was translated into French, German, and Spanish. She went on to write The Horse Hunters, also translated into French, A Coat for Private Patrick (1964), The Mustangers (1965), Riders of Enchanted Valley (1966), and Yankee Doodle Dandies (1967). Meanwhile, two of her stories stories for Saturday Evening Post were adapted for "G.E. Theatre," a network television series. In 1964 her husband died, and she began working as a teaching assistant in history at Arlington State College (now the University of Texas at Arlington). Drawing on the papers of a relative who had served in the Chinese navy in the 1890s, she wrote Yankee and the Yalu, a story for juveniles published in 1968. She remained in Arlington and continued to write occasionally until her death, on June 9, 1978. Her remains were buried at Moore's Memorial Gardens there.

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Contemporary Authors, Permanent Series, Vol. 1. Fort Worth Star-Telegram, June 9, 1972. Something about the Author (Detroit: Gale Research, 1971-).
  • Journalism
  • Newspapers
  • Editors and Reporters
  • 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, “McGiffin, Lewis Lee Shaffer,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 28, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 1, 1995

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