VLIET, RUSSELL G. (1929–1984). Russell G. Vliet, novelist, playwright, and poet, son of Russell Gorden and Kathryn (Baldus) Vliet, was born in Chicago, Illinois, on November 4, 1929. As the son of a United States Navy doctor, he traveled widely as a youngster. He spent two years in Samoa and lived on naval bases in California, North Carolina, Washington, and Texas. He graduated from Texas City High School in 1948 and enrolled in Southwest Texas State Teachers College, where he majored in speech and drama and minored in English. In San Marcos Vliet married Vida Ann Rutherford on March 3, 1951; they had a daughter. Vliet graduated from Southwest Texas with a B.S. in education in January 1952, and he took an M.A. in English in August 1952. He taught in Texas schools from 1952 to 1954. From 1954 to 1956 he studied playwriting at Yale University School of Drama. He wrote many plays between 1957 and 1962, one of which, The Regions of Noon, was chosen the Southeastern Theater Conference Play of the Year in 1961. During 1960 he was a Ford Foundation fellow in playwriting and held a Rockefeller fellowship in fiction and poetry in 1969. Vliet, his wife, and daughter lived in Pennsylvania (1958–64), Massachusetts (1964–68), and Mexico (1968–70). For nearly a decade (1971–82) he worked a small farmstead in Stamford, Vermont. In 1983 he was chosen the Dobie-Paisano resident in fiction (seePAISANO RANCH) and gained renewed attention for his contribution to the tradition of Texas letters when he appeared at the Texas literature symposium held at the University of Texas at Austin. During his brief but prolific career as an author Vliet wrote four books of poetry: Events and Celebrations (1966), The Man with the Black Mouth (1970), Water and Stone (1980), and Clem Maverick (1983). His novels are Rockspring (1974), Solitudes (1977), and Scorpio Rising (1985). In addition, he contributed often to the Southwest Review and numerous other journals and periodicals. Vliet won the Texas Institute of Letters award three times, twice for books of poetry and once for Solitudes. He died of cancer on May 11, 1984, in North Adams, Massachusetts.
Robert Gish, "R. G. Vliet's Lonesome Cowboys: Language and Lyricism in the Contemporary Western Novel," Southwestern American Literature 9 (Fall 1983). Texas Authors File, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
Robert F. Gish
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