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Louis Bromfield Biography

(1896–1956), The Green Bay Tree, Possession, Early Autumn, A Good Woman

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American novelist, born in Mansfield, Ohio; he studied at Columbia University before serving in the First World War. His sequence of four novels, The Green Bay Tree (1924), Possession (1925), Early Autumn (1926; Pulitzer Prize), and A Good Woman (1927), which centred on a New England farming family, effectively illustrated Bromfield's egalitarian philosophy with its emphasis on the virtues of agrarian democracy and individual initiative. With The Strange Case of Annie Spragg (1928) and Twenty-Four Hours (1930), Bromfield displayed a technical proficiency in the construction of linked narratives converging on a single event. However, critics frequently dismissed his intelligent, perceptive fictions as outmoded. Bromfield's visit to India in 1932 resulted in The Rains Came (1937), a powerful novel which displayed his narrative drive, evocative descriptive prose, an unashamed romantic idealism, and a concern with social progress. Bromfield's Indian fictions, which included Night in Bombay (1940), present a fascinating portrayal of a time and a nation prepared for radical change. His other novels include Mrs Parkington (1943), a portrait of a typical Bromfield heroine, a powerful and innovative woman; Colorado (1947), a spoof of the Western genre; and The Wild Country (1948), a haunting study of adolescent sexuality set in Ohio farming country. Pleasant Valley (1945) and Malabar Farm (1948) are non-fiction works based on his experiences as a farmer in Ohio from 1939.

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