Arvin, Newton, 1900-1963Alternative names
Newton Arvin was born on August 9, 1900 in Valparaiso, Indiana. He was eduated at Harvard University (A.B., 1921) and joined the Smith College faculty in 1922. He taught at Smith until his forced retirement in 1960. He died on March 21, 1963 of pancreatic cancer. Arvin specialized in 19th century American literature and wrote biographies of Hawthorne, Longfellow, Melville and Whitman. He was often in residence at Yaddo where he formed friendships with Truman Capote, Carson McCullers and others.
From the description of Newton Arvin correspondence, 1920-1963. (Smith College). WorldCat record id: 53317747
Newton Arvin was a Professor of English Languages and Literature at Smith College 1922-1960, a scholar of Hawthorne and Melville, and arrested on morals charges in 1959, and retired by the Board of Trustees in 1960.
From the description of Newton Arvin Papers 1924-2001. (Smith College). WorldCat record id: 431330110
Frederick Newton Arvin was born on August 9, 1900 in Valparaiso, Indiana. He earned his bachelor's degree from Harvard in 1921 graduating summa cum laude. After graduation, Arvin taught for a year at a private school in Detroit before joining the faculty of Smith College as an Instructor of English in 1922.
Newton Arvin was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1935, and was named a full professor at Smith in 1940. He was acclaimed for his biographies of Melville, Whitman and Hawthorne. Newton was awarded the National Book Award for non-fiction in 1951. As a professor and a writer, Arvin specialized in 19th Century American Literature. Arvin was a member of the Corporation of Yadda, a writer's colony in Saratoga Springs, New York.
As Margot Cleary said in an article which appeared in Hampshire Life in 1991, "Newton Arvin's life was a Jekyll and Hyde affair, a mixture of professional acclaim and personal scandal." Despite a brief marriage to former Smithie, Mary Jordan Garrison from 1932 until 1940, Arvin was living as a closeted gay man. On Labor Day weekend in September of 1960, police raided Arvin's home and confiscated thousands of pictures of male models that were considered pornographic at the time.
Newton Arvin was charged with possession and distribution of pornographic materials, and though he plead not guilty, he later accepted a finding of guilty, which led to a $1, 200 fine, a one year suspended jail sentence, and two years of parole. His arrest, and the confiscation of his journals led to the arrests of several other men in the community, including two of Arvin's colleagues at Smith. Arvin retired from the faculty in 1960 with a small salary. Newton Arvin was diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas in early 1963, and died on March 21st of that year.
In 1984 Truman Capote, whom Arvin had met at Yadda, on his death established an award and prize in the field of literary criticism in Newton Arvin's honor.
From the guide to the Newton Arvin Papers RG 42., 1924-2001, (Smith College Archives)
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