The fellowship program

Dobie Ranch House
J. Frank Dobie's ranch house

Sponsored by the Graduate School at The University of Texas at Austin and the Texas Institute of Letters, the Dobie Paisano Fellowship Program provides solitude, time, and a comfortable place for Texas writers or writers who have written significantly about Texas. The retreat is on a 250 acre ranch about twenty minutes west of Austin. Here J. Frank Dobie's ranch house sits below a wall of cliffs and near a clear, beautiful creek. The house is furnished simply and comfortably, with modern conveniences. Utilities, internet, and phone service are provided, though the fellow must pay for long distance telephone service.

At the time of application, the applicant must meet one of the following requirements: (1) be a native Texan, (2) have resided in Texas at least three years at some time, or (3) have published significant work with a Texas subject. Those who meet requirement 1 or 2 do not have to meet the Texas subject matter restriction.

There are two distinct fellowships - one for September 1 - December 31 with a stipend of $6250 a month (the Ralph A. Johnston Memorial Fellowship); one for February 1 - July 31 with a stipend of $3000 a month (the Jesse H. Jones Writing Fellowship). Length of residency may change for maintenance or program needs. The fellowships are available to both creative writers and writers of non-fiction. Non-fiction should be written for the general audience.

The Jesse H. Jones Writing Fellowship will be aimed at, though certainly not limited to, writers who are early in their careers and who would benefit from an extended period at the ranch.  Demonstration of prior publishing and critical success is not expected, though, as in the past, many applicants will indeed have such a record.  Any writer at any level of success (including those with strong publishing records) is eligible for the Jesse Jones Fellowship.

The Ralph A. Johnston Memorial Fellowship is aimed at writers who have already demonstrated some publishing and critical success.  This may or may not be writers a little later along in their literary careers.  The definition of "publishing and critical success" will be determined by the judges each year, but, in general, we would expect at least one critically well-received book, or an impressive list of published essays, articles, poems, stories, etc.  The decision of the judges will be based on the quality of the writer's past work and the potential for future excellence.  Of course, the writer's suitability for ranch life is always taken into account.  We will be asking this writer to give a reading or talk at the university during the residency. 

Applicants may apply for both fellowships. The application fee is $20 for one fellowship or $30 for both fellowships. If applying for both, include the $30 application fee with the Ralph A. Johnston Memorial Fellowship application and check the appropriate box at the top of the Johnston application form. Application fees are non-refundable. Each application and its accompanying materials must be mailed in separate packets.  There will be separate judging panels for each fellowship.

Read the letter written by a former president of the Texas Institute of Letters if you are planning to apply to gain more insight into the details of life at the ranch. The letter is in .pdf format.  To access this letter you need Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer. (Download free Adobe Acrobat Reader.)

A detailed history of the project can be found in The Handbook of Texas Online under "Paisano Ranch."


Articles about the ranch, the fellowship program, and the Fellows who have experienced this writing retreat are included on the "Features" page.

Picture Gallery

The ranch offers great views of the hill country and a quiet place to reflect and write.

View pictures of the ranch.

J. Frank Dobie

Folklorist J. Frank Dobie was  "a spokesman of Texas and southwestern culture."

Read more about J. Frank Dobie.