White, Victor Francis (1902–1981)

By: Charles E. Linck, Jr.

Type: Biography

Published: January 1, 1996

Updated: March 8, 2019

Victor Francis White, writer and teacher, was born in Vienna, Austria, and immigrated to the United States at age seventeen. He has sometimes been confused with Victor Francis White (1902–60), who authored Jungian theological works. This Victor White was semi-orphaned at age two by the death of his British father in a train accident and the remarriage of his Austrian mother and her removal to the United States. His life and career is clouded in his fictional persona, Peter Domanig. After schooling in Europe by 1920 White emigrated to the United States, where he held various labor level jobs before befriending and working with Thomas Edison in his personal electrical laboratory. White obtained degrees at Rutgers, Yale, and the Sorbonne and taught French in New Jersey in addition to ghost writing and writing art and theater reviews and his first novel. He spent summers in Taos, New Mexico, from 1935 until he took permanent residence there in 1938, working as reporter for Life and Time. In 1943 he prepared air force pilot candidates for their special examinations, continuing to work at his novels during the decade 1944–54. White was married and divorced during these years. In 1956, encouraged by Lon Tinkle, he took a position at St. Mark's School of Texas, Dallas, as resident author and master teacher, while continuing his writing career, book reviewing with Tinkle for the Dallas Morning News, and spending his summers in Taos. After he won the John H. McGinnis Award in 1964–65 for his short story, "The Hotel" (in Southwest Review, Winter 1965), he was elected to the Texas Institute of Letters and awarded the Dobie Paisano Fellowship of the Humanities Research Center, Austin, Texas. His long fiction includes Peter Domanig: Morning in Vienna (1944), Peter Domanig in America: Brass (1954), Peter Domanig in America: Steel (1954), and The Dominant Note (1956). His very first novel, entitled "Danse Absurde" remains unpublished; a more recent one, "Lady of Guadalupe, or Granthrop and the Dark Madonna," also with alternate title "The Anthropologist and the Virgin," was to be published by Thorp Springs Press, Thorp Springs, Texas, but has not yet appeared; a children's book, "Granthrop and the Bashful Elephant," remains in manuscript as do several other completed or nearly completed manuscripts now in the archives of St. Mark's School of Texas, Dallas, along with miscellaneous letters, working papers, clippings, etc. Numerous reviews, stories, poems, and articles appeared in Southwest Review, Arlington Quarterly, South Dakota Quarterly, and Dallas Morning News as well as elsewhere. Victor was deeply religious, following the Catholic and Anglo-Catholic movements as did many of his eminent friends such as Robert Penn Warren; politically, he maintained the eclectic position of a liberal and caustic-tongued critic of all modern age bureaucratic organizations which impinge on the free spirit. After retirement in May 1970, nearly blind, he died following massive heart troubles at his Taos home in 1981; his physical estate immediately became a court cause célèbre when his friends discovered that he had signed a will under medicated duress in favor of a neighbor who cleverly attended upon him during his last days.

New York Times Book Review, April 1, 1956. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

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

Charles E. Linck, Jr., “White, Victor Francis,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 20, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/white-victor-francis.

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January 1, 1996
March 8, 2019

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