American Literature of the Sea and Great Lakes

[ROARK, GARLAND], “GEORGE GARLAND” (1904-1985). Born in Groesbeck, Texas, Garland Roark spent the first two decades of his work life on the advertising staffs of various retail stores in Texas, promoting everything from groceries to jewelry. In 1946 he launched a new career as a writer of popular fiction with the publication of his first novel, Wake of the Red Witch, whose principal character, Sam Rosen, is transformed by the treachery and duplicity of those around him in a relentless search for sunken treasure. The novel was made into a film starring John Wayne in 1948. Over the next twenty-five years, Roark produced an average of a book a year, most of them works of historical sea fiction set in the nineteenth century. In 1951 Roark published Doubtful Valley under the pseudonym “George Garland,” the first of six novels of western lore that he wrote under that name.

His works of sea fiction include Fair Wind to Java (1948), also made into a movie (1953); Rainbow in the Royals (1950), adventures sailing to California during the early years of the gold rush; Star in the Rigging; A Novel of the Texas Navy (1954), an account of the contributions of a small naval fleet to Texas’ battle for independence in 1835; The Outlawed Banner (1956), naval action of the Civil War; and The Lady and the Deep Blue Sea (1958), a narrative of a clipper race.

Roark wrote as a historical features columnist for the Houston Chronicle in the early 1960s. He died in Nacogdoches, Texas, on 9 February 1985.

Joseph Flibbert