Swados, Harvey.

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Harvey Swados, novelist and social critic, was born in Buffalo, New York, October 28, 1920, and died in Amherst, Massachusetts, December 11, 1972. His parents were Aaron Meyer Swados, a physician, and Rebecca Bluestone Swados, a painter. He married Bette Beller September 12, 1946. Their children are Marco, born 1947, Felice, 1949, and Robin, 1953. Swados received his B.A. in 1940 from the University of Michigan. From 1948, the Swados' "permanent" home was at Valley Cottage, Rockland County, New York, 20 miles north of Manhattan, until their move to Amherst, Massachusetts in 1970. Cagnes-Sur-Mer in Southern France was considered a second home.

Harvey Swados had two principal passions: politics and literature. "By temperament and conviction he was a socialist...His belief in the possibilities of a just society was as primitive in faith as it was sophisticated in judgment" (Katz, Leslie, "Thoughts after Harvey Swados" in American Journal, 4-10-73). According to Swados: "I remain a social radical, at once dismayed and exhilarated by my seemingly doomed yet endlessly optimistic native land" (unpublished autobiography). "To call himself a socialist meant for Harvey most of all to preserve the power of moral responsiveness...It meant, as he wrote..., 'My kinship has been with those writers who imply, even as they treat of trouble and terror, that the world could be better just as my commitment has been to those human beings who believe-despite every awful evidence to the contrary-that the world must be better'" (Howe, Irving, "Harvey Swados 1920-1972" in Dissent, Spring 1973).

Swados wrote both fiction and non-fiction. However, "a good deal of Swados' most effective work appears in his stories, a genre in which he takes chances and more often than not succeeds in making art out of his severe social criticism" (Shapiro, Charles, "Harvey Swados: Private Stories and Public Fiction" in Contemporary American Novelists, edited by Harry T. Moore, Southern Illinois University Press, 1964). His awards and honors through the years included: Hudson Review fellowship in fiction, 1957-58; Sidney Hillman Award, for "The Myth of the Happy Worker", 1958; Guggenheim fellowship, 1961-62; Philip M. Stern Family Fund Magazine Grant Program for UAW article, 1963; American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Institute of Arts and Letters Award in literature, 1965; Arts and Letters grant for art, 1965; University of Michigan Sesquicentennial Award, 1967; National Endowment for the Arts grant for fiction, 1967-68; Judge in 1970 Fiction Division of National Book Awards competition; and Five short stories included in Best American Short Stories annual volumes. He held professional memberships in the Authors League and P.E.N.

Swados played the flute, in chamber music with friends and in a local orchestra. Irving Howe states that "part of the fun of visiting the Swadoses was always the sense one had of a rich, intense family life, with its interweaving of politics and music and theater, its incomparable closeness and devotion" (Howe, "Harvey Swados 1920-1972").

  • 1956 - 1957 : Visiting Lecturer, State University of Iowa
  • 1957: Speaker, Grinnell College Writers Conference
  • 1958 - 1960 : 1962 - 1970 : Member of Literature Faculty, Sarah Lawrence College
  • 1958: Lecturer, New York University Summer Writing Conference
  • 1960 - 1961 : Visiting Professor of English (Language and Writing), San Francisco State College
  • 1960: Speaker, Writers Conference, University of Utah
  • 1961: Speaker, University of California, Berkeley,
  • 1965 - 1966 : Visiting Lecturer, Columbia University
  • 1966: Lecturer, University of Oregon Summer Academy of Contemporary Arts
  • 1969: Speaker, Writers Conference, University of Utah
  • 1970 - 1972 : Writer in Residence, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • September 1970: Appointed visiting Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • 1970: Lecturer, State University of New York, Buffalo, Summer Program in Modern Literature

From the guide to the Harvey Swados Papers MS 218., 1933-1983, 1936-1972, (Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Yaddo records, 1870-1980 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Powell, Dawn. Dawn Powell Papers, 1910-1998. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Swados, Harvey. Letter, 1965, to Lewis Mumford. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Swados, Harvey. Office files, of The American Poetry Review, 1972. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Herbert Wilner Papers, 1948-1978. Columbia University. Rare Book an Manuscript Library
creatorOf Hills, L. Rust. Papers, 1954-1996. Indiana University
referencedIn James O. Brown Associates. James O. Brown Associates records, 1927-1992. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Harvey Swados Papers MS 218., 1933-1983, 1936-1972 Special Collections and University Archives, UMass Amherst Libraries
referencedIn Esquire, Inc. Records, 1933-1977 Bentley Historica Library University of Michigan
creatorOf Swados, Harvey. Letter, 1958 Jul. 27, Valley Cottage, N.Y., to Warner G. Rice, Ann Arbor. University of Michigan
referencedIn New Yorker records, ca.1924-1984 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Harris, L. mss., 1931-1977 Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
creatorOf Feinstein, Herbert. Herbert Feinstein interviews : revised mss (typescript) and published periodicals, 1960-1966. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Alumni Association (University of Michigan), Individual Photographs, ca. 1880-ca. 1960s Bentley Historica Library University of Michigan
referencedIn Wilner, Herbert, 1925-1977. Papers, 1948-1978. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn James O. Brown Associates Records, 1927-1992. Columbia University. Rare Book an Manuscript Library
referencedIn Antioch Review mss., 1940-2007 Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
creatorOf Rice, Warner Grenelle, 1899-. Correspondence, with literary notables, 1955-1961. University of Michigan
creatorOf Swados, Harvey. Doctor in the house; a comedy in three acts [1940?] University of Michigan
creatorOf Rowe, Kenneth Thorpe, 1900-. Student play collection, 1928-1970. University of Michigan
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Antioch review. corporateBody
correspondedWith Bellow, Saul person
associatedWith Esquire, Inc. corporateBody
correspondedWith Farrell, James T. (James Thomas), 1904-1979 person
associatedWith Feinstein, Herbert. person
correspondedWith Gold, Herbert, 1924- person
associatedWith Harris, Leon A. person
associatedWith Hills, L. Rust. person
correspondedWith Hofstadter, Richard, 1916-1970 person
correspondedWith Howe, Irving person
associatedWith James O. Brown Associates. corporateBody
correspondedWith Malamud, Bernard person
correspondedWith Mills, C. Wright (Charles Wright), 1916-1962 person
associatedWith Mills, Ralph J. person
correspondedWith New Yorker Magazine, Inc corporateBody
associatedWith Powell, Dawn. person
associatedWith Rice, Warner Grenelle, 1899- person
associatedWith Rowe, Kenneth Thorpe, 1900- person
associatedWith Swados, Bette. person
associatedWith University of Michigan. Alumni Association. corporateBody
associatedWith Wilner, Herbert, 1925-1977. person
associatedWith Yaddo (Artist's colony) corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Jewish authors--United States--Biography
National Book Awards--History--20th century--Sources
Socialists--United States--Biography
Authors, American--20th century--Biography


Birth 1920-10-28

Death 1972-12-11




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