About the author

Portis was born in El Dorado (Union County, Arkansas) in 1933. His family, which included two brothers and a sister, later settled in Hamburg (Ashley County, Arkansas). In the early 1950s, he served in the Korean War with the Marine Corps and was discharged in 1955. He enrolled in the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and graduated in 1958.

After starting his journalism career at the Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Portis worked for the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock for almost two years, writing among other things the "Our Town" column, a standard feature of the paper for several decades. After leaving the Gazette, Portis got a job at the New York Herald Tribune, where he spent four years, the last as London bureau chief. Among his colleagues there were Tom Wolfe, Lewis Lapham, and Art Buchwald, all of whom would become well-known authors.

In 1964, he left the Herald Tribune and returned to Arkansas to write fiction. His first novel, Norwood, was published in 1966. His next novel, True Grit, was serialized in the Saturday Evening Post in 1968, published as a book the same year, and made into a movie the next year. Portis, a long-time resident of Little Rock, has also written for the New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, and the Oxford American, which gave Portis its first Lifetime Achievement in Southern Literature award in 2010. His play, Delrays New Moon, was produced by the Arkansas Repertory Theatre in April 1996.