Anderson, Sherwood, 1876-1941

Alternative names
Birth 1876-09-13
Death 1941-03-08

Biographical notes:

Author, newspaper editor.

From the description of Letter to Maurice Hanline, n.d. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 56349777

American novelist, short-story writer, poet, and journalist.

From the guide to the Sherwood Anderson miscellany, 1981, undated, (The New York Public Library. New York Public Library Archives.)


From the description of Death in the woods : annotated short story, circa 1933. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 71131083

Sherwood Anderson was an American novelist and poet.

From the description of Sherwood Anderson collection of papers, 1922-1943. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122575705

From the guide to the Sherwood Anderson collection of papers, 1922-1943, (The New York Public Library. Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature.)

American poet, novelist, and story writer.

From the description of Letter [manuscript] : Marion, Virginia, to R. Critchell Rimington, New York; 1929 May 28. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647823211

Biographical Note: Sherwood Anderson was an American novelist, poet and short story writer.

From the description of Sherwood Anderson postcard, 1934. (Johns Hopkins University). WorldCat record id: 48380078

American author.

From the description of Papers of Sherwood Anderson [manuscript] 1934 and 1953. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647830943

From the description of Letter to Mrs. Trask [manuscript], n.d. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647833134

From the description of Papers of Sherwood Anderson, 1923-1941. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 49361499

The collection consists of two items: letter to Dear Krime, undated, mentioning his illness and his plans to travel to the country for a few days for his health; note, written on a Hotel Chelsea envelope, undated, to Dear Dr. Dickstein, relating his plans to sail to Europe and asking that the books be sent to him next summer in Troutdale, Virginia [where he moved circa 1925].

From the description of Sherwood Anderson letter and note, after 1925. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 71790587

Sherwood Anderson was born in Camden, Ohio, on September 13, 1876, as the third of seven children. His parents, Irwin M. and Emma Anderson, moved from town to town frequently after the failure of Anderson's father's business. Anderson attended school only intermittently in order to help his family's finances by working a variety of odd jobs including stable boy, house painter, and newsboy. He left school at the age of 14. His father (a former Union soldier) worked as a harness maker and house painter after the family finally settled down in Clyde, Ohio. Anderson moved to Chicago, Illinois, at the age of 17, where he worked in a factory by day and was a business student by night. He joined the National Guard in 1895 at the age of 19 and fought in Cuba during the Spanish-American war. After his service ended, Anderson returned to Ohio and finished a final year of schooling at Wittenberg College in Springfield.

Anderson moved around Ohio frequently until 1904 when he married Cornelia Lane, a woman of good education and background, and fathered three children. He began to write fiction while working in a manufacturing plant in Elyria. Anderson left Lane and his children and moved back to Chicago after suffering an emotional collapse in 1912, and stayed there working as a copy writer for the Taylor-Critchfield Advertising Company. While in Chicago he also joined the Chicago Group, which included other writers such as Theodore Dreiser and Carl Sandburg. In 1916, Anderson divorced Lane; he later claimed that she had been unsympathetic to his attempts at writing. He then married sculptor and musician Tennessee Mitchell.

Shortly after his divorce, Anderson wrote his first two novels, Windy McPherson's Son (1916) and Marching Men (1917). In 1919, he began writing what would eventually become his most famous work, Winesburg, Ohio, a collection of related short stories. His short stories were soon successful, and he published additional collections such as The Triumphs of the Egg (1921), Horses and Men (1923), and Death in the Woods (1933). Between 1920 and 1922, he wrote the novel Poor White (1920) and various other works and ended his marriage to Mitchell.

In 1923, Anderson published the novel Many Marriages, which was a moderate success and was praised by other authors such as F. Scott Fitzgerald. Anderson married Elizabeth Prall and moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1924. It was here that he wrote his best-seller, Dark Laughter (1925). Anderson's third marriage was beginning to break down but was sustained with the help of Eleanor Copenhaver, a social worker who was also his future wife.

Anderson moved to Marion, Virginia, where he built a house and worked on his farm and also edited two newspapers he had purchased in 1927. He also wrote for the newspapers ( Smyth County News and the Marion Democrat ) under the pen name of Buck Fever and even lectured to earn extra income. Anderson finally separated from Prall in 1929 (officially divorced in 1932) and married Copenhaver in 1933.

Anderson died March 8, 1941, at the age of 64 of peritonitis while on a ship in the Panama area. It was discovered in an autopsy that he had swallowed a toothpick from a martini which perforated his colon. He is buried in Round Hill Cemetery in Marion, Virginia.

From the guide to the Sherwood Anderson Collection, 1922-1945, (The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Center)

Sherwood Anderson (1876-1941) was born in the small town of Camden, Ohio to a large and impoverished family. An outstanding student, Anderson quit school at 14 to help support his family. In 1895 he volunteered for the Spanish-American War, then spent one year in Wittenburg College. He worked as a laborer in Chicago and later as a writer in an advertising agency. Unable to resist the urge to write and live a bohemian lifestyle, Anderson suffered an emotional breakdown and walked away from his family and his mail-order paint business. He had three children (two sons and a daughter) from his first marriage. Anderson eventually married three more times.

Anderson published 27 books, plays, and volumes of short stories, along with numerous articles in periodicals. Often controversial, he wrote about issues as diverse as the sexual awakening of adolescence to the alienation caused by industrialization. He was very active in the intellectual community of the day and was instrumental in helping both Faulkner and Hemingway to be published for the first time.

Anderson wrote to his daughter from Kansas City in March, 1933, "As you know, my dear, I never did domesticate well," but he always maintained relationships with his children. Later in life, Anderson embarked on his fourth--and only successful--marriage, to Eleanor Copenhaver, a native of Marion, Virginia. They traveled extensively and spent summers on their rural farm, "Ripshin," near Marion. Anderson bought and operated both of Marion's local newspapers and eventually passed ownership along to his eldest son, Robert.

Sherwood Anderson died on the first leg of a long-anticipated trip to South America. He developed peritonitis and was hospitalized in Panama, where he passed away on March 8, 1941.

From the guide to the Sherwood Anderson Photograph and Postcard, 1929, 1939, (Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.)


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Ark ID:


  • Amateur theater
  • Authors, American--20th century--Correspondence
  • Novelists, American--20th century--Biography--Correspondence
  • Authors, American--20th century
  • Authorship
  • Male authors, American--20th century--Correspondence
  • Newspaper publishing
  • Authors, American--20th century--Manuscripts
  • Opera
  • Authors, American
  • Literary agents
  • Authors and publishers


  • Authors


  • Virginia (as recorded)
  • Louisiana--New Orleans (as recorded)