Shirley A. Leckie is the recipient of the 1993 Evans Biography Award for her book "Elizabeth Bacon Custer and the Making of a Myth," published by the University of Oklahoma Press. Though presented in 1994, the award recognizes work completed in 1993.
The award, established in 1983 by David W. Evans to encourage the writing of biography, is administered by the Mountain West Center for Regional Studies at Utah State University. It includes a $10,000 prize, which will be presented to the author at a dinner Friday, Aug. 19, on the USU campus.Leckie is an associate professor of history at the University of Central Florida. She teaches courses in history of the trans-Mississippi West and women in American history.
Books submitted for the Evans Biography Award are reviewed by a panel of regional experts. Finalists are submitted to a national jury. Sixteen books were screened at the regional level before three final entries were selected. This year's national judges include Richard Maxwell Brown of the University of Oregon; Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, winner of a Pulitzer Prize, and an educator at the University of New Hampshire; and Utah educator Charles S. Peterson.
Leckie's book chronicles the life of Elizabeth Bacon Custer and her relationship with her husband George Armstrong Custer. The work explores her life following Custer's death and how Elizabeth established and perpetuated the Custer myth. It is known that no anti-Custer work was published until after her death.
Jurors called Leckie's work "a very well written, highly interesting biography that is a pleasure to read," "a solid and interesting book," and it "offers a useful new perspective to the Custer saga."