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Katherine Anne Porter Stamp Sails Into Post Offices


May 15, 2006

WASHINGTON – Acclaimed writer and Pulitzer Prize winner Katherine Anne Porter was honored today by the U.S. Postal Service with the issuance of a commemorative postage stamp. Considered a master prose stylist, Porter taught at many prestigious universities, despite never graduating high school. A first-day-of-issue ceremony was held at the Katherine Anne Porter Literary Center in Kyle, TX. The new stamp is only available in Kyle today and at Post Offices and philatelic centers across the nation tomorrow.

“We’re proud to salute the life and extraordinary accomplishments of Katherine Anne Porter,” said Carolyn L. Gallagher, a member of the U.S. Postal Service’s Presidentially appointed Board of Governors, who dedicated the stamp. “Her literary style still inspires us to search for understanding from our own life experiences.”

Joining Gallagher was Dr. Denise M. Trauth, President, Texas State University-San Marcos; Paul Porter, Nephew of Katherine Anne Porter; and George Lopez, Vice President, U.S. Postal Service.

Katherine Anne Porter was born Callie Russell Porter on May 15, 1890, in Indian Creek, TX. After the death of her mother in 1892, Callie and her family went to live with her paternal grandmother, Catharine Ann Porter, in Kyle, TX. At the age of 25, Callie legally changed her name to Katherine Anne Porter, after her grandmother.

Strong-willed, intelligent and gifted, Porter worked as a journalist in Texas and Colorado before moving to New York City in October 1919. There she began writing fiction and became acquainted with Mexican artists whose enthusiasm for their cultural heritage precipitated her four trips to Mexico City between 1920 and 1931. During this period, she wrote essays, reviews and several original pieces of fiction. Set in Mexico, Flowering Judas was the title of Porter’s first collection of stories, which she published to critical praise in 1930.

Perhaps the finest collection of her fiction is Pale Horse, Pale Rider (1939), which brought together three short novels. The title work and Old Mortality feature the autobiographical character Miranda. Porter, who frequently used personal experience as inspiration, believed that an artist’s job is “to take these handfuls of confusion and disparate things, things that seem to be irreconcilable and put them together in a frame to give them some kind of shape and meaning.”

Although skilled in the creation of short fiction, Porter did not achieve significant financial success until the publication of her only full-length novel, Ship of Fools (1962). A best seller that was eventually made into a movie, Ship of Fools drew on a log Porter kept of the sea voyage she made from Veracruz, Mexico, to Bremerhaven, Germany, in 1931 after she won a Guggenheim fellowship.

Despite never having attended college, or even completing a secondary education, Porter occasionally taught literature and writing at a number of universities beginning in the 1940s. She received honorary degrees from several institutions including the University of Maryland, which today counts Porter’s papers and personal library among its Special Collections.

Three years before her death, Porter published her final work, The Never-Ending Wrong (1977), a personal memoir of the Sacco-Vanzetti trial of 1921. On September 18, 1980, Porter died at the age of 90 in Silver Spring, MD. She was buried beside her mother in Indian Creek, TX.

Porter’s childhood home in Kyle, TX, is now a museum and home for writers-in-residence. On June 13, 2002, the house was dedicated a national literary landmark. That same year the American Academy of Arts and Letters presented the first Katherine Anne Porter Award, which is given every two years to a prose writer of demonstrated achievement and dedication.

Award-winning stamp artist Michael J. Deas of Brooklyn Heights, NY, based his painting of Porter on a 1936 photograph made by George Platt Lynes. By including a ship in the design, Deas links Porter’s portrait to the sea voyage that inspired her best-selling novel Ship of Fools and to her assessment of life, which she called, “this brave voyage.”

The stamp is 22nd in the Literary Arts series, which also includes Robert Penn Warren (2005), Zora Neale Hurston (2003), Ayn Rand (1999) and Stephen Vincent Benét (1998).

Current U.S. stamps and stationery, as well as a free catalog, are available by calling 1-800-STAMP-24. In addition, a selection of stamps and other philatelic items are available at the online Postal Store at Custom-framed prints of original stamp art are available at

How to Order First-Day-of-Issue Postmark

Customers have 30 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They may purchase new stamps at their local Post OfficeTM, by telephone at 800-STAMP-24, and at The Postal Store® Web site at They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes (to themselves or others), and place them in a larger envelope addressed to:

KYLE TX 78640-9998

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark. All orders must be postmarked by June 14, 2006.

How to Order First-Day Covers

Stamp Fulfillment Services also offers first-day covers for new stamp issues and Postal Service stationery items postmarked with the official first day of issue cancellation. Each item has an individual catalog number and is offered in the quarterly USA Philatelic catalog. Customers may request a free catalog by calling 800-STAMP-24 or writing to:

DEPT 6270
PO BOX 219014
KANSAS CITY MO 64121-9014

First-day covers remain on sale for at least one year after the stamp’s issuance.

Since 1775, the Postal Service and its predecessor, the Post Office Department, has connected friends, families, neighbors and businesses by mail. It is an independent federal agency that visits 144 million homes and businesses every day, six days a week and is the only service provider delivering to every address in the nation. The Postal Service receives no taxpayer dollars for routine operations, but derives its operating revenues solely from the sale of postage, products and services. With annual revenues of more than $69 billion, it is the world’s leading provider of mailing and delivery services, offering some of the most affordable postage rates in the world. The Postal Service delivers more than half of the world’s mail volume — some 212 billion letters, advertisements, periodicals and packages a year — and serves seven and a half million customers each day at its 37,000 retail locations nationwide. Its website,, attracts more than 21 million visitors each month.


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