Estela Portillo Trambley (1926-1998), an El Paso native, was an award-winning fiction writer, playwright and poet known for her vivid portrayals of strong and independent Mexican and Mexican American women in Texas and its borderlands. Recognized as one of the first "Chicano Renaissance" authors, Trambley earned bachelor's and master's degrees in English literature from the University of Texas at El Paso. She taught high school in El Paso for more than 40 years, including over two decades as a teacher of home-bound students. An internationally-acclaimed author, she lectured extensively at universities across the United States and Europe.
Trambley's contributions to the arts and to higher education are an important part of El Paso's artistic legacy. She was co-founder of Los Pobres, a bilingual theater in El Paso. Her plays premiered in many theaters across the country, including the Chamizal National Memorial Theater and the Chicano Theater of El Paso Community College. In 1972, Trambley became the first woman to win the Premio Quinto Sol, a prestigious literary prize recognizing the work of Chicano and Chicana authors. In the 1960s, she hosted "Stella Says," a political radio show. She also directed and wrote "Cumbres," a television cultural program, in the 1970s.
to Chicana literature in its formative years and was the inspiration for many writers who fought gender stereotypes. "Look at all the women in my stories," Trambley told an interviewer in 1982. "They're very independent; they create their own universes; they are very unorthodox. They aren't held down by rules and regulations."