Best-selling author opens Tylene Wilson exhibit at Brown County Museum

Steve Nash
Brownwood Bulletin
Marjorie Herrera Lewis, author of the historical novel "When the Men Were Gone," speaks at the Brown County Museum of History Monday night. Lewis opened the Tylene Wilson exhibit at the museum.

Best-selling author and sports writer Marjorie Herrera Lewis opened the Tylene Wilson exhibit Monday night at the Brown County Museum of History. Wilson will be in Brownwood through Wednesday to host writer workshops for children and adults.

The “Coffee, Pie and Conversation” with Lewis and ribbon cutting for the Wilson exhibit drew a large audience to the museum, which reopened recently after being closed for more than a year because of COVID. 

Wilson, who coached football in Brownwood during World War II, is the subject of Lewis’ historical novel “When the Men Were Gone.”

Lewis began her career as a journalist with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and went on to become the first female sportswriter for the Dallas Morning News, covering the Dallas Cowboys, Rangers and Mavericks. She turned her writing skills into becoming a historical novelist after a chance encounter led to her discovery of the Wilson story.

Wilson had become a boys football coach in Brownwood during World War II when the coaches were away at war. Lewis spent months researching the story and visited Brownwood several times.

An article by Scott McDonald on states that Lewis had a conversation with one of Wilson’s great-nieces, and Lewis set out to write Wilson’s story. Lewis couldn’t find enough information on Wilson’s actual life, so she wrote a novel of historical fiction and placed Wilson as head coach of Brownwood High School while the men were away at World War II.

Wilson faced opposition by the press, the community, rival coaches, referees and even the players, reviews of the novel explain. Her players ended up rallying around her.

Wilson died in 1992 at the age of 88 and is buried at Brownwood's Greenleaf Cemetery.

During her time visiting Brownwood, Lewis came to love the town where Wilson had lived, taught and coached. When asked by representatives of the Brown County Museum of History if she would return to teach writing skills for children, she quickly agreed. 

“When the Men Were Gone,” published in 2018, was named one of the year’s best books by Sports Illustrated magazine, and the rights have been sold for a movie.