Writer, translator, teacher, librarian. Born– August 12, 1909, in Selma, Ala. Parents– Chester Earle and Ruby Jeannette (West) Johnson. Married–James Oliver Tolbert, 1929 (divorced 1934); married  John Grier Varner, April 29, 1939. Education– University of Alabama, B.A., 1930, M.A., 1931; University of Virginia, Ph.D., 1938; postdoctoral study at the Universidad Nacional de Mexico, 1947. . Taught French at Blue Mountain College, Miss., 1937-1939; Spanish at Fairfax Hall Junior College, Waynesboro, Va., 1940-42; and at the University of Virginia, Extension Division 1941-1943. Librarian, Centro Venezolano-Americana, Caracas, Venezuela, 1943-1947; head reference librarian, Austin Public Library, Texas, 1948-1971. Free-lance writer, translator, and editor after 1971. Member– Texas, Southwestern, and American Library Associations; Latin American Studies Association. Awarded grants by the American Council of Learned Societies, the U.S. Department of State, American Philosophical Society, and the University of Texas at Austin.  Received the Joan Pavlevsky Literary Translation Award, 1987.  Died 1992.


Who’s Who in the South and Southwest; Contemporary Authors online.

Joint Publication(s):

Dogs of the Conquest. Norman; University of Oklahoma Press, 1983.

El Inca; The Life and Times of Garcilaso de la Vega.  University of Texas Press, 1968.


Chant of the Centuries.  Rev. Ed. W. S. Benson, 1984.

Helping Children See Art and Make Art.  Vol. I.  W. S. Benson, 1982.

The Way of Art.  W. S. Benson, 1985.

The Windows of the All Saints Chapel. Austin, Tex.; All Saints Chapel, 1982.


The Conquest and Settlement of Venezuela. (Jose de Oviedo y Ba¤os). Berkeley; University of California Press, 1987.

Joint translator and editor;

The Florida of the Inca (Garcilaso de la Vega). Austin, Tex.; University of Texas Press, 1962.

The Conquest and Settlement of Venezuela. Berkeley; University of California Press, 1987.


The papers of John G. and Jeannette Johnson Varner are held by the Benson Manuscripts section of the library at the University of Texas, Austin.