Caldwell, Erskine, 1903-1987

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1903-12-17
Death 1987-04-11
Gender:
Male
Americans
Portuguese, English

Biographical notes:

American writer who was born in Georgia, best known for his 1932 first novel, "Tobacco Road," which documents the experience of poor blacks and whites in the rural South. Caldwell also wrote travel essays and literary criticisms.

From the description of The Shooting, Short story manuscript, [ca. 1935]. (Temple University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 122582515

Proposed by bookseller Eugene Steinheimer, each author wrote a chapter of the story on a relay basis.

From the description of Nine shots in the dark, 1951. (University of Arizona). WorldCat record id: 31485077

Over the course of a long career, Erskine Caldwell wrote twelve books of nonfiction, twenty-five novels, and nearly 150 short stories. He was intent on depicting life among the lowly in Georgia and the rest of the South, and his concern for the less fortunate-poor whites and blacks-shines in his great novels and short stories of the 1930s. This concern also permeates the strongest writing of his later years, his nonfiction works of the 1960s. Born December 17, 1903, in Coweta County, Caldwell was the only child of Caroline "Carrie" Bell, a schoolteacher, and Ira Sylvester Caldwell, a minister in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian (A.R.P.) Church. Ira's work led the family to move frequently. By the time Erskine was fifteen, he and his parents had lived in Georgia, Florida, the Carolinas, Virginia, and Tennessee. In the summer of 1919 they moved back to Georgia and settled in Wrens, a small town in Jefferson County about thirty miles south of Augusta. His parents lived there until Ira's death in 1944. Following high school, Caldwell attended Erskine College, an A.R.P. school in South Carolina, and the University of Virginia, among other institutions. He never received a degree, but at the University of Virginia a professor encouraged him to be a writer. Outside class, he met fellow student Helen Lannigan, whom he married early in 1925. During their thirteen-year marriage, they had three children: Erskine Jr., Dabney, and Janet. Two of Caldwell's early stories caught the attention of a major figure in the literary establishment, Maxwell Perkins, senior editor at Charles Scribner's Sons. Perkins read Caldwell's work at the suggestion of F. Scott Fitzgerald. In 1931 Scribner's published American Earth, Caldwell's first significant book. Among the stories in the collection are "Joe Craddock's Old Woman," a poignant vignette of the hardships of farming; "Savannah River Payday," a telling example of Caldwell's ability to weave humor and horror; and "Saturday Afternoon," a gut-wrenching story of a lynching. Introducing his work to a wider audience, American Earth ushered in an extraordinarily productive decade. By 1940 Caldwell had written, among other works, the novels Tobacco Road, God's Little Acre, and Trouble in July; the short-story collection Kneel to the Rising Sun; and the documentary You Have Seen Their Faces. A month before his death on April 11, 1987, Peachtree Publishers in Atlanta issued his final book, an autobiography entitled With All My Might. It is supremely fitting that his farewell was published in his native Georgia, a place that had supplied such rich material about the poor people whose lives he sought to improve. Erskine Caldwell, 1903-1987 -- New Georgia Encyclopedia http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org (Retrieved July 5, 2009)

From the description of Erskine Caldwell typescript, 1940. (University of Georgia). WorldCat record id: 422106081

Erskine Preston Caldwell was born in White Oak, Coweta County, Georgia, the son of Ira Sylvester Caldwell, a minister, and Caroline Bell, a teacher. Caldwell much later believed that being brought up as a minister's son in the Deep South was "my good fortune in life," for his family's frequent moves to different congregations in the region gave him an intimate knowledge of the people, localities, and ways of life that would inform his fiction and documentary writing. As a youth he observed, with his father's active encouragement, the "antics and motivations" of the southern poor in their pursuit of material and spiritual satisfaction. He noted the quirks of sexual, social, and race relationships in the world around him and listened avidly to stories told in his family and community. Eventually he decided that his main goal in life was to become a storyteller himself. Caldwell attended Erskine College, in South Carolina, and also took courses at the University of Virginia and the University of Pennsylvania between 1920 and 1925. He served a more practical apprenticeship to writing as a newspaper reporter for the Atlanta Journal; as a book reviewer for the Journal, the Houston Post, and the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer; and by practicing his craft in scores of essays, poems, jokes, stories, and novels, which he submitted, largely unsuccessfully, for publication during the late 1920s. In 1925 he married Helen Lannigan, with whom he later had two sons and a daughter. His first novel, The Bastard, was published in 1929, followed by a second, Poor Fool, in 1930; but later he preferred to acknowledge the short story collection American Earth (1931) as his first book. The stories in this collection, many of which first appeared in little experimental magazines, revealed many of the qualities and preoccupations that would characterize Caldwell's later writing: a grimly deterministic view of human existence qualified by a burlesque sense of its absurdity; a keen interest in the manipulation of power between men and women, whites and blacks, rich and poor; a considerable disposition toward vulgar comedy and gothic violence; and a starkly simple prose style that depended for its impact on startling patterns of imagery and choral repetitions. With his next two novels, Tobacco Road (1932) and God's Little Acre (1933), Caldwell achieved not only critical and popular success, but also some notoriety. Both books were set among the poor whites of his southern childhood, and both displayed a mixture of muckraking anger and grotesque sexual behavior that upset southern loyalists and northern moralists alike. Despite or because of this, Tobacco Road, adapted for the stage by Jack Kirkland, ran on Broadway for over seven and a half years, and God's Little Acre, after a highly publicized obscenity trial, became one of Caldwell's perennial bestsellers. The financial rewards of these successes, however, did not come for some time, and in 1933 Caldwell went west to try his luck as a screenwriter in Hollywood. He later described his intermittent, twenty-year association with film writing as a "toilsome and far-from-happy career," saying that in terms of his ability to write fiction it was "just a waste of time" but that it gave him a comfortable income when he dearly needed it. American National Biography Online. http://www.anb.org/articles/16/16-00244.html?a=1 & n=erskine%20caldwell & ia=-at & ib=-bib & d=10 & ss=0 & q=1 Retrieved 3/23/2009.

From the description of Motion picture contracts, 1933-1934. (University of Georgia). WorldCat record id: 317619981

Over the course of a long career, Erskine Caldwell wrote twelve books of nonfiction, twenty-five novels, and nearly 150 short stories. He was intent on depicting life among the lowly in Georgia and the rest of the South, and his concern for the less fortunate-poor whites and blacks-shines in his great novels and short stories of the 1930s. This concern also permeates the strongest writing of his later years, his nonfiction works of the 1960s. Born December 17, 1903, in Coweta County, Caldwell was the only child of Caroline "Carrie" Bell, a schoolteacher, and Ira Sylvester Caldwell, a minister in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian (A.R.P.) Church. Ira's work led the family to move frequently. By the time Erskine was fifteen, he and his parents had lived in Georgia, Florida, the Carolinas, Virginia, and Tennessee. In the summer of 1919 they moved back to Georgia and settled in Wrens, a small town in Jefferson County about thirty miles south of Augusta. His parents lived there until Ira's death in 1944. Following high school, Caldwell attended Erskine College, an A.R.P. school in South Carolina, and the University of Virginia, among other institutions. He never received a degree, but at the University of Virginia a professor encouraged him to be a writer. Outside class, he met fellow student Helen Lannigan, whom he married early in 1925. During their thirteen-year marriage, they had three children: Erskine Jr., Dabney, and Janet. Two of Caldwell's early stories caught the attention of a major figure in the literary establishment, Maxwell Perkins, senior editor at Charles Scribner's Sons. Perkins read Caldwell's work at the suggestion of F. Scott Fitzgerald. In 1931 Scribner's published American Earth, Caldwell's first significant book. Among the stories in the collection are "Joe Craddock's Old Woman," a poignant vignette of the hardships of farming; "Savannah River Payday," a telling example of Caldwell's ability to weave humor and horror; and "Saturday Afternoon," a gut-wrenching story of a lynching. Introducing his work to a wider audience, American Earth ushered in an extraordinarily productive decade. By 1940 Caldwell had written, among other works, the novels Tobacco Road, God's Little Acre, and Trouble in July; the short-story collection Kneel to the Rising Sun; and the documentary You Have Seen Their Faces. A month before his death on April 11, 1987, Peachtree Publishers in Atlanta issued his final book, an autobiography entitled With All My Might. It is supremely fitting that his farewell was published in his native Georgia, a place that had supplied such rich material about the poor people whose lives he sought to improve. Erskine Caldwell, 1903-1987 -- New Georgia Encyclopedia http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org (Retrieved July 27, 2009)

From the description of Erskine Caldwell typescript, ca. 1900s. (University of Georgia). WorldCat record id: 427897410

Over the course of a long career, Erskine Caldwell wrote twelve books of nonfiction, twenty-five novels, and nearly 150 short stories. He was intent on depicting life among the lowly in Georgia and the rest of the South, and his concern for the less fortunate-poor whites and blacks-shines in his great novels and short stories of the 1930s. This concern also permeates the strongest writing of his later years, his nonfiction works of the 1960s. Born December 17, 1903, in Coweta County, Caldwell was the only child of Caroline "Carrie" Bell, a schoolteacher, and Ira Sylvester Caldwell, a minister in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian (A.R.P.) Church. Ira's work led the family to move frequently. By the time Erskine was fifteen, he and his parents had lived in Georgia, Florida, the Carolinas, Virginia, and Tennessee. In the summer of 1919 they moved back to Georgia and settled in Wrens, a small town in Jefferson County about thirty miles south of Augusta. His parents lived there until Ira's death in 1944. Following high school, Caldwell attended Erskine College, an A.R.P. school in South Carolina, and the University of Virginia, among other institutions. He never received a degree, but at the University of Virginia a professor encouraged him to be a writer. Outside class, he met fellow student Helen Lannigan, whom he married early in 1925. During their thirteen-year marriage, they had three children: Erskine Jr., Dabney, and Janet. Two of Caldwell's early stories caught the attention of a major figure in the literary establishment, Maxwell Perkins, senior editor at Charles Scribner's Sons. Perkins read Caldwell's work at the suggestion of F. Scott Fitzgerald. In 1931 Scribner's published American Earth, Caldwell's first significant book. Among the stories in the collection are "Joe Craddock's Old Woman," a poignant vignette of the hardships of farming; "Savannah River Payday," a telling example of Caldwell's ability to weave humor and horror; and "Saturday Afternoon," a gut-wrenching story of a lynching. Introducing his work to a wider audience, American Earth ushered in an extraordinarily productive decade. By 1940 Caldwell had written, among other works, the novels Tobacco Road, God's Little Acre, and Trouble in July; the short-story collection Kneel to the Rising Sun; and the documentary You Have Seen Their Faces. A month before his death on April 11, 1987, Peachtree Publishers in Atlanta issued his final book, an autobiography entitled With All My Might. It is supremely fitting that his farewell was published in his native Georgia, a place that had supplied such rich material about the poor people whose lives he sought to improve. Erskine Caldwell, 1903-1987 -- New Georgia Encyclopedia http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org (Retrieved November 24, 2009)

From the description of Erskine Caldwell letter, 1947 April 26. (University of Georgia). WorldCat record id: 469142201

American writer.

From the description of Photographs [manuscript], 1936-1978. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647811906

Caldwell was an American novelist.

From the description of Letters to Alfred Morang, 1930-1955. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 612374384

"Erskine Caldwell wrote twelve books of nonfiction, twenty-five novels, and nearly 150 short stories. Profoundly influenced by his father, a minister and social reformer, he was intent on depicting life among the lowly in Georgia and the rest of the South. His concern for the less fortunate-poor whites and blacks-shines in his great novels and short stories of the 1930s. This concern also permeates the strongest writing of his later years, his nonfiction works of the 1960s." - "Erskine Caldwell." New Georgia Encyclopedia. http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org (Retrieved July 31, 2008).

From the description of Erskine Caldwell papers, circa 1965. (University of Georgia). WorldCat record id: 340952506

Erskine Caldwell (1903-1987), American author, born in White Oak, Georgia.

From the description of Erskine Caldwell papers, [ca. 1930-1978]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 38478318

From the description of Letters to Stetson Kennedy, 1940-1942, 1958, 1978. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 38476580

Born December 17, 1903, in Coweta County, Caldwell was the only child of Caroline "Carrie" Bell, a schoolteacher, and Ira Sylvester Caldwell, a minister in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian (A.R.P.) Church. Over the course of a long career, Erskine Caldwell wrote twelve books of nonfiction, twenty-five novels, and nearly 150 short stories. Profoundly influenced by his father, he was intent on depicting life among the lowly in Georgia and the rest of the South. His concern for the less fortunate - poor whites and blacks - shines in his great novels and short stories of the 1930s. This concern also permeates the strongest writing of his later years, his nonfiction works of the 1960s. -- New Georgia Encyclopedia www.georgiaencyclopedia.org (viewed Dec. 11, 2008).

From the description of Erskine Caldwell - Girl with figurines, manuscript (typescript). (University of Georgia). WorldCat record id: 286893502

The famous Georgia novelist, in a speech at Georgia Southern College, recalls episodes of his early career.

From the description of Erskine Caldwell speech transcript, October 17, 1972. (Georgia Southern University). WorldCat record id: 298340411

"Over the course of a long career, Erskine Caldwell wrote twelve books of nonfiction, twenty-five novels, and nearly 150 short stories. He was intent on depicting life among the lowly in Georgia and the rest of the South, and his concern for the less fortunate-poor whites and blacks-shines in his great novels and short stories of the 1930s. This concern also permeates the strongest writing of his later years, his nonfiction works of the 1960s."--"Erskine Caldwell (1903-1987)" from the New Georgia Encyclopedia, http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-497&sug=y (Accessed Aug. 14, 2009)

From the description of Erskine Caldwell letters, 1952-1960. (University of Georgia). WorldCat record id: 432663619

Caldwell authored "God's Little Acre" and other popular novels.

From the description of Three TLS, 1940 January 22, February 28, March 6 : Point of Woods Rd., Darien, Conn., to "Cap" [C.A. Pearce]. (Copley Press, J S Copley Library). WorldCat record id: 16787955

Erskine Caldwell was an author, best known for his risqué novels of the American South. Born in Georgia, Caldwell's family travelled throughout the South; he worked numerous odd jobs, and gravitated towards journalism due to his interest in writing. He began publishing short stories, and found success with early novels Tobacco Road and God's Little Acre. His novels were widely banned, due to their pessimistic and shockingly realistic depiction of events and taboo subjects, but they proved enormously popular, and Caldwell became one of the most widely-read authors of his day. A prolific and successful author, he travelled widely, and also worked as a screenwriter and newspaper correspondent.

From the description of Erskine Caldwell letter to Kenneth Burke, 1935 April 7. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 124067857

American author.

From the description of Papers, 1970-1989 [manuscript]. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647823283

From the description of Papers of Erskine Caldwell [manuscript], 1973-1976. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647844503

From the description of Papers of Erskine Caldwell [manuscript], 1977-1988. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647805838

From the description of Papers of Erskine Caldwell, 1925-1988. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 32959110

From the description of Papers of Erskine Caldwell, 1961-1964. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 32959086

Author.

From the description of Letter, Rheem, California, to John Cook Wyllie [manuscript] 1962 November 17. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647952557

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