Christian Retailing

Prolific Christian novelist Gilbert Morris dies Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Monday, 22 February 2016 03:59 PM America/New_York

GilbertMorrisGilbert Morris, author of more than 230 novels, died suddenly last Thursday, Feb. 18, in Gulf Shores, Alabama. He was 86.

His granddaughter, Dixie Morris-Downs, posted notice of his passing to his Facebook page.

“It was a complete shock for his family, he was doing well and was still active,” she wrote, thanking his fans for their prayers and love.

His longtime agent, Greg Johnson of WordServe Literary, said Morris was “the grandfather of Christian historical fiction.”

Nearly 7 million copies of his novels have been sold worldwide He is best known for the 40-volume “House of Winslow” saga, published by Bethany House.

Carol Johnson, who worked with Morris while she was at Bethany House, reflected on his life.

“Probably Gilbert's most widely read fiction was in his ‘House of Winslow’ series—fascinating historical novels covering centuries of America's roots and growth,” she said. “When we began publishing them at Bethany House Publishers, we eventually arrived at his 12th Winslow story and wondered if it would soon be dropping off in readership. But in his inimitable Southern drawl, Gil made a convincing case that it wasn't over yet ... and he eventually told the epic story of our country's birth and expansion over a 40-book series!

“Gilbert was a delightful man and conversationalist—storytelling was in his DNA, and his pithy drawl added further humor and color to each tale during our visits with him,” Johnson added. “His love for God, family and country undergirded his life and, specifically, his calling to writing, and he will be missed here as he is welcomed into heaven.”

Sue Brower, marketing director for Edge of Honor (Zondervan), Morris’ 2001 Christy Award winner, was “saddened by the loss of one of Christian fiction’s early heroes.”

“Gilbert Morris will be long remembered for his significant contribution to Christian fiction,” Brower said. “He was a true Southern gentleman; kind, funny, caring and a mentor to so many fiction writers over the years. His novels have changed the lives of his many readers as he showed them God’s love through his characters and stories.”

Once a pastor and English professor, Morris earned his Ph.D. at the University of Arkansas.

He is preceded in death by his wife, Johnnie, and his son Alan, whom he co-wrote several novels with. Surviving are two daughters and many grandchildren. His daughter Lynn Morris is also a fiction writer.