Skip to main content

Garland Roark Collection

Identifier: A-0181

Scope and Contents

The collection spans Roark's writing career from 1943 until his death in 1985 and contains galley proofs and original handwritten and typed manuscripts of many of his books, newspaper articles, and other writings, including unpublished material. Also included are Roark's research notes and materials, and promotional material for the movies based on his novels Wake of the Red Witch, and Fair Wind to Java. Other items in the collection include business correspondence, most notably with publishers Doubleday and Company, Inc. and Little, Brown and Company, and letters from actors John Wayne and Clint Walker. There is a large collection of news clippings and reviews, transcripts of radio interviews, and several of Roark's drawings.  There are also publicity photos, photos of Roark and his family, and personal correspondence and fan mail.


  • Creation: 1946-1988


Language of Materials

The collection is in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for research.

Biographical or Historical Information

Garland Roark was born July 26, 1904 in Groesbeck, Texas the son of James H. and Mona Lee (Davidson) Roark. He married Leola Elisabeth Burke on September 14, 1939. He died February 9, 1985 in Nacogdoches, Texas.

The late Garland Roark was well known as a writer of seafaring adventures and, under the pseudonym George Garland, of Westerns. Roark held advertising positions with various stores in Texas from 1924 until 1946, when he quit to write full time. The decision proved fortuitous; throughout the 1950's and 1960's Roark maintained a solid reputation for pulp-style adventure stories.

Roark's first novel, Wake of the Red Witch, set the tone for his subsequent work. Set in the South Seas, the story revolves around sunken treasure and the cruel greed of the men searching for it. Early reviewers were less than enthusiastic about the book. Critical assessment notwithstanding, Wake of the Red Witch was a popular title, made even more so after it was filmed in 1948 with John Wayne as the star.

According to Joe R. Lansdale in Twentieth-Century Western Writers, "Many of Roark's main characters display the proud independence that was Wayne's trademark, as well as the trademark of the Western hero." As Roark's writing career gained momentum he received better notices for his works, and he attracted a loyal following for his sea stories.

Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series, volume 63, page 393-394.


39.00 Cubic Feet


This collection is described in 726 folders and housed in 21 banker's boxes, 3 oversize boxes, and 2 oversize bundles. It is organized at the folder level.

Guide to the Garland Roark Collection
Anne Kendall
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the East Texas Research Center Repository