Elizabeth Borton De Trevino
Over a long, full life Elizabeth Borton de Trevino wrote many works of fiction for both children and adults. She tells us, “All my books enclose a little kernel of truth …something that really happened. Nacar, The White Deer enlarges upon a note in the history of the Manila galleon, the Spanish vessel that plied between the Orient and Acapulco, New Spain (now Mexico). According to the note, at one time the great ship carried across the pacific a beautiful albino deer, which was reshipped from Veracruz to Spain as a gift for the king,” (reported in Twentieth Century Children’s Authors).
Elizabeth Borton was born in Bakersfield, California in 1904. After graduating from Stanford University, Elizabeth journeyed to Boston to study the violin. There, however, she ended up as a journalist for The Boston Herald where her music background and her fluency in Spanish established her as an interviewer of international celebrity. It was on one of her assignments for the paper that she went to Monterrey, Mexico and met her future husband, Luis de Trevino. The story of her courtship and marriage and her life in Monterrey is told in the best selling memoir, My Heart Lies South. Throughout her lifetime Elizabeth grew in her love of the Mexican culture and in the faith she had adopted upon her marriage.
“All my life,” Elizabeth tells us, “I have been fascinated by imaginative speculation, triggered off by some legend or historical incident.” Among the many fiction books for children that came from this triggering of Mrs. de Trevino’s imagination, Nacar and A Carpet of Flowers are set in Mexico. Another work of note, a book of historical fiction for youth, I, Juan de Pareja, portrays the friendship between two real-life people, the great Spanish painter Velasquez and his Negro slave, Juan. This book won the Newbery Medal in 1966.
Among Elizabeth Borton de Trevino’s nonfiction works, outstanding for charm and insight are My Heart Lies South (1953), mentioned above, of which Bethlehem Books has published a Young People’s Edition; The Hearthstone of My Heart (1977), describing her youth in Bakersfield; and Where the Heart Is (1962), further memoirs of her life in Mexico. Somewhat fictional, but close to biography, is the story of El Guero, depicting her father-in-law’s boyhood adventures in 19th century Mexico.
Elizabeth Borton de Trevino died in December, 2001 in Cuernavaca.