George Sessions Perry was born on May 5, 1910, in Rockdale, Texas. Orphaned at age twelve, he was reared through his adolescent years by his maternal grandmother. An irascible woman, she became the model for a major character in his prize-winning novel Hold Autumn in Your Hand. Rockdale and the surrounding area furnished the setting for nearly all of his fiction. Perry attended Southwestern University, Purdue University, and the University of Houston, but he never received a college degree. At Southwestern, he met his future wife, Claire Hodges. In 1931, he returned from traveling to marry her, and they settled down in Rockdale.
Having inherited a small income, George Perry spent the next six years writing six novels and more than fifty short stories about rural Texas. Claire Perry acted as his audience, grammarian, and typist. He was finally published in 1937, but it was not until 1941 that Perry established his place on the Texas literary scene with Hold Autumn in Your Hand, a novel about a year in the life of a tenant farmer. The book won the Texas Institute of Letters Award in 1941 and, in 1942, became the first Texas book to win the National Book Award. In 1945, the movie The Southerner, by Jean Renoir, was based on this book.
For World War II, Perry was declared medically unfit for service. So, Perry got a job as a war correspondent and volunteered to go ashore on the Sicily landings in 1943. After witnessing the horrors of war, he turned from fiction and devoted himself to nonfiction and journalism. By the late 1940s, Perry had established a national reputation as a feature writer for the Post and other magazines.
He and Claire moved to Guilford, Connecticut, to be near eastern publishing firms. In Connecticut on December 13, 1956, he accidentally drowned in a river by his house. In February, he was buried in Rockdale, Texas.
Texas: A World in Itself is an excellent informal guide to the state in which the author was born and raised. With enchanting stories, the book introduces the reader to the history, traditions, and folklore of Texas. Due to Perry's many trips to other cities, states, and countries, he has gained a worldly perspective of his home state. These experiences allow him to give the reader a picture of Texas that a nonnative can easily understand and a native could fondly enjoy.