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Robert Cantwell Biography

(1908–78), Laugh and Lie Down, The Land of Plenty, New Republic, The Nation, Time, Newsweek

editor literary proletarian draws

American novelist, biographer, and editor, born in Little Falls (Vader), Washington, educated at the University of Washington. Cantwell is chiefly associated with the group of proletarian realists (see Proletarian Literature in the USA) who emerged in the USA in the early 1930s. Cantwell worked at an assortment of jobs, including coastguard and factory operator in a lumber mill, before moving to New York to begin a career in journalism. His first novel, Laugh and Lie Down (1931), draws on his experiences of mill work, and marked the beginnings of his literary conversion to the left. A more considerable work, The Land of Plenty (1935), again draws on Cantwell's industrial experience, here in the context of a labour–management dispute which turns into a strike. Cantwell also contributed regularly to the New Republic and The Nation and in 1935 became an associate editor at Time magazine, a position he held until 1945 when he took over as literary editor at Newsweek. Other works include the biographies Nathaniel Hawthorne: The American Years (1948) and Alexander Wilson (1961); and The Hidden Northwest (1972), a historical study.

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