ENCAMPMENT, Wyo. – Johnny D. Boggs, whose eight Spur Awards are a record in the 67-year history of Western Writers of America , will receive the organization’s 2020 Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Contributions to Western Literature.
Boggs will also be inducted into the Western Writers Hall of Fame, housed outside the McCracken Research Library at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyo.
“Johnny Boggs’s writing is infused with a profound respect for the historical record as well as a passion for the frontier,” WWA past president Kirk Ellis said. “His sharp former reporter’s eye is finely attuned to nuances of speech and character, and his prose crackles with vernacular energy. Johnny doesn’t retell old stories – he tells them as they’ve never been told before.”
Added WWA board member David Morrell: “Boggs displays a formal inventiveness that makes the way he tells stories as exciting as the stories themselves, turning them into art.”
The nonprofit guild’s highest honor will be presented during WWA’s convention June 17-20 in Rapid City, South Dakota.
Boggs has won Spurs for the short story “A Piano at Dead Man’s Crossing” (2002); novels Camp Ford (2006) and Legacy of a Lawman (2012); juvenile novels Doubtful Cañon (2008), Hard Winter (2010) and Taos Lightning (2019); and original mass-market paperback novels West Texas Kill (2012) and Return to Red River (2017). He has also been a Spur finalist 13 times.
Boggs’s other awards include the 2004 Western Heritage Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum for Spark on the Prairieand the 2015 Arkansiana Juvenile Award for Poison Spring.
A 1984 graduate of the University of South Carolina, Boggs spent 14½ years as a sports reporter and editor at the Dallas Times Herald and Fort Worth Star-Telegram before moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1998 to write fiction and nonfiction full time.
Since the early 1950s, WWA has honored and promoted all forms of literature about the American West. Previous Owen Wister honorees include Pulitzer Prize winner N. Scott Momaday; historians Eve Ball and Robert M. Utley; and best-selling novelists Rudolfo Anaya, Elmore Leonard, Tony Hillerman and Lucia St. Clair Robson.
The Wister Award is a bronze statue of a buffalo created especially for WWA by artist Robert Duffie.