Ralph A. Johnston Memorial Fellowship

Applications for the Fall 2024 Fellowship will be open from 12/01/23 - 12/31/23

Sponsored by the Graduate School at The University of Texas at Austin, the Dobie-Paisano Fellowship Program provides writers solitude, time, and a comfortable place to work. The retreat is on a 250-acre ranch about twenty minutes west of Austin. Here J. Frank Dobie's ranch house sits below a wall of cliffs and near a clear, beautiful creek. The house is fully furnished with modern conveniences. Utilities, the internet, and phone service are provided, though the fellow must pay for long distance telephone service, and the internet service can, at times, be ornery. 

In the past, two separate fellowships have been offered. Due to issues securing funding for the 2024 fellowship cycle, only the Ralph A. Johnston Memorial Fellowship will be offered. The residency for this fellowship typically runs four months, from September through December, though the length of residency may change for maintenance or program needs. The fellowship is available to writers in any genre, especially poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. Non-fiction should be written for a general audience. In addition to residency at the ranch, the fellowship includes a monthly stipend of $6000 for four months.

The Ralph A. Johnston Memorial Fellowship is aimed at writers who have already demonstrated some publishing and critical success. This may or may not be writers a little later along in their literary careers. The definition of "publishing and critical success" will be determined by the judges each year, but in general, we would expect at least one well-received book or an impressive list of published essays, articles, poems, stories, etc. The decision of the judges will be based on the quality of the writer's work and their potential for future excellence. The writer's suitability for ranch life is also taken into account.  


At the time of application, the applicant must meet at least one of the following requirements: (1) be a native Texan, (2) have resided in Texas for at least three years at some time, or (3) have published significant work with a Texas subject.


Applications will open on Submittable: Fall 2024 Fellowship applications will be open from 12/01/23 - 12/31/23

Application Fee

The application fee is $20.00. Application fees are non-refundable.

Application Process

Applications will be accepted online through Submittable.


  • You will need to create a free Submittable account in order to submit these forms. Here is a quick guide on how to get started:
  • The Submittable password requires 8 or more characters and must contain two of the following: upper case letter, a symbol, or a number.
  • You can save a draft if you would like to finish filling out the application at a later date. 
  • We will follow-up with you about your submission by email. Please be sure the email address you used to sign up for your Submittable account is one you check regularly. 
  • Please reach out to Submittable's Customer Support team with any technical questions at

Work Submitted

The application process asks for the following things: 1) A writing sample that best helps us evaluate the quality and content of your writing. 2) A clear and concise description of what you plan to work on during your residency. Please include a rough idea of where you are on this project—just the thinking stage? a completed first draft?, etc. 3) A brief statement on your suitability for ranch life. Please limit writing samples to no more than 50 manuscript pages. Supporting work, including published work, is permitted but is included in the 50-page limit. The writing sample should reflect your best work and be indicative of the type of writing you would pursue at Paisano. Judges will read only the first 50 pages submitted. 


Judges for the competition are former fellows. We do not release the names of the judges.


Personal recommendations are not requested and are not included in applicant files.

Announcement of Winners

Winners are typically announced in May. Applicants will be notified of the results via email as soon as possible.  Applicants do not receive any critique of their entries.

Austin and Austin-area Applicants

The purpose of a Dobie Paisano fellowship is to provide solitude and financial support for a committed writer. The fellowship requires full-time residency at the ranch. It cannot be used as a part-time work site or as a temporary retreat. If you live in Austin or the Austin area, it would be useful to the judges to read of your commitment to this requirement. You can address this commitment on the application form under: "Why do you feel that you would be a suitable Paisano fellow?"


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