Born on July 13, 1910 in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, Josefina Niggli would become a literary voice from the middle ground between Mexican and Anglo heritage. Her father was an Anglo manager of a cement plant that employed most of the people in her village. Sent to school in San Antonio at age 15, she felt isolated and longed for the people of her Mexican homeland. Her first book of poetry, Mexican Silhouettes, drew vignettes of her cherished Mexican village.
At the college of the Incarnate Word, she became a writer, receiving her degree in philosophy and history. She later worked in theatre and became a "stable writer" for Twentieth Century Fox and Metro-Golden-Mayer. Being a stable writer was an unglamorous life, one in which writers received money instead of fame for their anonymous work. She worked on such movies as The Mark of Zorro and Sombrero (a movie based on her book Mexican Village). Mexican Village was a series of short stories that described her experience of being part of both Anglo and Mexican culture.
Following a dream to teach, she quit her job in Hollywood and moved to Chapel Hill where she joined the faculty of Western Carolina University. She wrote for radio and television in Carolina, including such shows as Twilight Zone and Have Gun Will Travel.
Her oscillating identity between Anglo and Mexican heritage is evident in the evolution of her own name. Her birth certificate spells her name "Josephine," but she published her early books under the more Latina tag of "Josephina Niggli." In her later works, she had successfully switched the spelling to "Josefina."
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