Literary Corner of Arizona

Cochise County Arizona – Literary Corner of Arizona

Cochise County, AZ - The southeast corner of Arizona, sprinkled with the small towns of Willcox, Bisbee, Tombstone, Douglas, Sierra Vista, and Benson, has been home to noted writers and the setting for literature that is known and loved worldwide. Best-selling author J.A. (Judith Ann) Jance grew up in Cochise County and graduated from Bisbee High School before attending the University of Arizona. Her Detective Beaumont book series has 21 titles and the 17 Joanna Brady books are set in southeastern Arizona. She makes Cochise County her home part of the year splitting time with Seattle.

Noted playwright and author Thornton Wilder set out on a “Great American Road Trip” in 1962 leaving home in Connecticut in his sea blue Thunderbird convertible and he wound up in Douglas, Arizona where he checked into the famous Gadsden Hotel. He mingled with the locals and hotel guests in the Gadsden bar, stayed 10 weeks in the hotel, and then rented a 3 room flat in Douglas where he rediscovered his literary voice and developed an idea for a mystery and wrote his National Book Award winning novel The Eighth Day.

Tombstone is legend in American literature with near countless articles and books written about Wyatt Earp, the Gunfight at OK Corral, Boothill, Johnny Ringo, and Doc Holliday, among other iconic true-life characters of the American West.  When John Wayne read Louis L’Amour’s short story "The Gift of Cochise", which was set in Cochise County, in Collier's magazine he knew it would make a great motion picture. He bought the rights, changed the name, and starred in the film that would help make L'Amour one of the top names in literature of the American West. That movie was Hondo.

Cochise County was the heartland of the Apache Nation and, more than any other individual, the German writer Karl May shaped the German perception of the American west for generations of his countrymen with stories based upon the Apache.  At the beginning of the last century he created the characters of Winnetou, the wise chief of the Apache Tribe, and Old Shatterhand, the author's alter ego and Winnetou's white blood brother for a great series of novels set in the region of Cochise County, home of the famous true life Apache leader Geronimo. May had over 200 million books in print and his stories of the Apache warriors were literally required reading for generations of Germans. Some of his books were made into movies and Karl May festivals continue throughout Germany today.

Literature is celebrated every day in Cochise County. Just north of Benson a true living legend, Winifred (Winn) Bundy, invites visitors into her Singing Wind Bookshop housed in her ranch house. It’s like no other bookstore on earth and Winn is like no other. This book lover’s haven sits on a ranch with no paved road or parking lot. Winn will see you drive up and as soon as you’re out of your car you are on a tour of her trove of books, floor to ceiling, all new, and covering an amazing range of topics connected to Cochise County and the American west.

The annual Cochise Community Creative Writing Celebration brings published writers in several genres, such as poetry, novels, creative nonfiction, and screenwriting, to present hands-on workshops to aspiring writers at the college’s Sierra Vista campus. This March presenters included Simon J. Ortiz, Acoma Pueblo poet, writer, essayist, storyteller, and Regents Professor of English & American Indian Studies at Arizona State University (ASU).