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Jack Conroy (Jack John Wesley Conroy) Biography

(1899–1980), (Jack John Wesley Conroy), The Disinherited, The Rebel Poet, The Anvil

American novelist and editor, born in Moberly, Missouri. Conroy lost his father and brother in a mining disaster and spent some years as a migratory worker. These circumstances inform his best-known novel, The Disinherited (1933), written with the encouragement of H. L. Mencken. The book fictionalizes Conroy's own boyhood in a company-owned town, his itinerant labouring life, and experience of strikes and corruption, and ends with the protagonist's resolve to become active in the class struggle. Hailed at the time as a genuinely proletarian novel, it now seems less ideological, with the vicissitudes of working-class characters balanced by its pastoral portrait of young love and small-town life. The novel remains an important example of the social literature produced by the Great Depression. Conroy's activities as an editor of little magazines began with The Rebel Poet, but his major project was the Midwest-based The Anvil, which ran between 1933 and 1937 and became an exemplary model of literary and political commitment, printing work by Maxim Gorky, Nelson Algren, and Langston Hughes, among others. Conroy went on to be literary editor of two Chicago newspapers and the author of books for children. His last significant publication involved his editing Writers In Revolt: The Anvil Anthology (1973; with Curt Johnson).

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Cockfield Suffolk to Frances Cornford (née Darwin) Biography