Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A True Texas Tale Comes to Life

Sherri Knight's love of history and research has put her in the books. Her new release, Tom P's Fiddle, A True Texas Tale has already caught the attention of the North Texas Book Festival, naming her a finalist for 2008 in the nonfiction category for her account of a young fiddle player who found himself running from the law.

In this true tale Knight digs into the life of Tom P. Varnell, a skillful musician and, after a series of unfortunate events, a 19th-century fugitive. Her extensive research, which led her across several state lines, gave her an opportunity to search through old newspapers, museum archives, and University documents among other avenues.

Her extensive exploration into the life of Tom P. Varnell have led to the finely woven story of a young man helping his family struggle to survive after his father’s murder, but finding himself on the run after attending a party for the daughters of Jonah Land.

Accused of shooting Mr. Land and raping his daughter Ella, Tom flees and heads into a life of infamy, where all of the elements of a true Wild West adventure shine through in this nonfiction story. Knight takes the reader back to 1883 Texas with vivid, detailed accounts of a young man on the run to New Mexico Territory and back, where he finally stands before a jury.

In her researching process, Knight has created a blog dedicated to the story of Tom P. Varnell. The blog not only details the life and events surrounding Varnell, but a wealth of information about the time period, from Waco’s Red Light District to Civil War battles fought in Texas. Be prepared for an all day reading adventure on the blog, where one entry leads to another. Her depth of detail, pictures and variety of information about the time period is fascinating, keeping the reader locked on the site.

A pure-bred Texan, Knight still calls the Lone Star State home. She spent 31 years in the classroom putting her all-level teaching certificate to use. She has won numerous teaching awards, including Teacher of the Year – East Central High School (San Antonio), National Endowment for the Humanities Scholar, and Texas Exes Award for Excellence in Education – University of Texas at Austin among many others. She is currently working on her next book on the history of the Erath County District Court.

Sherri Knight

This member of Women Writing the West
can be found at


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