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Glenway Wescott Biography

(1901–87), Poetry, The Apple of the Eye, The Grandmothers: A Family Portrait

American novelist and poet, born in Kewaskum, Wisconsin, educated at the University of Chicago. Wescott left the University of Chicago (from where he had contributed Imagist verse to Harriet Monroe's Poetry magazine) in 1919 and spent several years wandering, rather aimlessly, from country to country, including England and Germany, before settling down to a career as a full-time writer. His first novel, The Apple of the Eye (1924), recalls his Wisconsin upbringing, but it was the partially autobiographical The Grandmothers: A Family Portrait (1927) that brought him his considerable early success; here his childhood is evoked through the thoughts and memories of Alwyn Tower, a character he was to use again, notably in The Pilgrim's Hawk: A Love Story (1940). During the years of Wescott's expatriation (from 1925 to 1933), chiefly in France where he lived in Paris and at Villefrance-sur-Mer, he befriended many other American expatriate writers, particularly Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. He returned to the USA in 1933 and while his writings became more intermittent and of rather uncertain quality he remained active in literary circles and edited the writings of Somerset Maugham and Colette. Images of Truth: Remembrances and Criticism (1962) draws together his more important prose writings. His poetry, which owes much to the influence of imagism, goes largely unread, though The Bitterns: A Book of Twelve Poems (1920) was his first publication. See Wescott (1965), by William H. Rueckert.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Robert Penn Warren Biography to Kenneth White Biography