Gilbert Leslie Morris (1929–2016)
A Christy award–winning Christian author, Gilbert Leslie Morris wrote more than 200 books for young adults spanning several genres, including historical novels, westerns, science fiction, and fantasy. His most well-known series of novels, the “House of Winslow” series, has collectively sold more than a million copies.
Gilbert Morris was born on May 24, 1929, in Forrest City (St. Francis County) to Osceola M. and Jewell Irene (Gilbert) Morris. Morris attended Arkansas State College (now Arkansas State University) and received a BA in English in 1948 and an MSE in 1962. He received a PhD from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1968 and also attended the University of Washington–Seattle.
Morris married Johnnie Yvonne Fegert on May 20, 1948, and they had three children.
Morris became an ordained Baptist minister in 1950 and worked as a pastor of several Baptist churches in Arkansas from 1952 to 1958. Morris was a public school English teacher in Reyno (Randolph County) from 1958 to 1961. Morris began teaching English at Ouachita Baptist College (now Ouachita Baptist University) in 1962. He also taught at Jimmy Swaggart Bible College.
Since 1982, Morris authored several Christian book series, many with historical settings, including the Ozark Adventures series, the Liberty Bell series (which takes place during the American Revolution), and the Appomattox Saga series (which is set during the Civil War). Morris’s most well-known series, however, is the House of Winslow series, which follows several generations of an immigrant family who arrived in America on the Mayflower. Morris also collaborated with other authors on his books, including his son, Alan, who coauthored the Katy Steele Adventures, and his daughter Lynn, who co-wrote the Cheney Duvall, M.D. series. In addition, he contributed about twenty-five articles and more than 200 poems to magazines, including Texas Review and Mississippi Review, and he wrote the how-to book How to Write (and Sell) a Christian Novel: Proven and Practical Advice from a Best-Selling Author. Many of Morris’s books are published by the Christian publisher Bethany House.
About his work, Morris said, “I have fought the fight against producing a Sunday school lesson under the facade of a novel. It is a grubby world we live in, with snares laid for all who would serve God. I would like for one stream of American fiction to give the truth about the Christian element. I believe the truth is that there are those like Elmer Gantry—pious hypocrites. There are also, however, those like Corrie ten Boom—strong, attractive Christians who struggle heroically to maintain their faith in a bent world.”
Morris also enjoyed building and restoring houses. He once told Contemporary Authors, “My avocation is building houses.” He explained, “I learned from a book and have built seven houses over the last fifteen years. I am in the process of restoring a huge old house built around 1880, and I will spend the rest of my life filling it up with either antiques or replicas built in my workshop.” Morris died on February 18, 2016, in Gulf Shores, Alabama, where he had long lived.
For additional information:
Gilbert Morris. https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/43414.Gilbert_Morris?from_search=true (accessed November 10, 2020).
Gilbert Morris. http://www.https://www.christianbook.com/page/fiction/fiction-authors/gilbert-morris?event=Fiction|1000421 (accessed November 10, 2020).
C. L. Bledsoe
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