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Island writer wins national non-fiction award

Portrait of a prospector: Edward Schieffelin's own story edited by Bruce Craig, a UPEI history professor.
Portrait of a prospector: Edward Schieffelin's own story edited by Bruce Craig, a UPEI history professor. - Contributed

A UPEI history professor’s latest book about the American West received a second national award distinction recently.

"Portrait of a Prospector: Edward Schieffelin’s Own Story" by Bruce Craig, was awarded the 2019 Mary Lee Spence Documentary Book Award presented by the Mining History Association.  

The prize recognizes the editor of a work published during 2017-18 that “masterfully crafts background documentation, creates a flowing account from diverse sources.” 

The committee described Craig’s work about the prospector Edward Schieffelin as a “superbly brought together the tale.” 
Schieffelin, the central figure in the first-person narrative, discovered the famed Arizona Tombstone silver lode in 1877 and was a towering figure who epitomized the American frontiersman of the 19th century American West. 

Schieffelin never wrote an autobiography though he did leave behind a journal and several oral history interviews conducted in the 1890s by famed historian Herbert Howe Bancroft. 

Craig’s accomplishment was to marry the two types of primary resources documents into a cohesive narrative using only Scheiffelin’s own words.

Craig’s book has also placed second in Utah State University’s Mountain West Center’s Evan’s Handcart Award competition which recognizes the best of research and writing in biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs that focus on the stories of people who have shaped the character of the American West.

Craig’s work is unique in that it does not fall comfortably in either the category of “biography” or “autobiography;” rather, the work is perhaps best described as a “constructed autobiography.”

In essence, Craig fashioned the autobiography that perhaps Schieffelin himself would have written had he lived long enough to do so.  He then rounded out the book by crafting an introduction and conclusion and provided extensive footnotes which won him this latest award which carries a US$500 cash prize.

The book is available from the publisher, through online booksellers and exclusively at The Bookmark bookstore on Queen Street, Charlottetown.  

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