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Sherwood Anderson Biography

(1876–1941), Windy McPherson's Son, Marching Men, Winesburg, Ohio, Poor White, Dark Laughter

American noveliyst and short-story writer, born in Camden, Ohio, into an itinerant poor white family. He served in the Spanish-American War and held a succession of jobs before abandoning his wife and family to move to Chicago in 1912 to become a full-time writer with the encouragement of Carl Sandburg, Theodore Dreiser, and Floyd Dell he published his first novels, Windy McPherson's Son (1916) and Marching Men (1917), both concerned with the claustrophobia of small town life. It was the appearance of Winesburg, Ohio (1919) which first brought him widespread attention, establishing him as a leading figure in the Chicago literary renaissance. The evocation of small town life and distrust of mechanization were to set the tone for much of what followed. Among the later fictional works were Poor White (1920), a novel concerning the effects of the invasion of rural life by modern machinery; Dark Laughter (1925), whose style is markedly influenced by Gertrude Stein in its placing value on the ‘primitive’ over the ‘civilized’; and Beyond Desire (1932), a novel dealing with the Southern textile mill labour struggles. He also wrote poetry and volumes of social philosophy, of which Perhaps Women (1931) is of particular contemporary interest. His short stories, collected in volumes such as The Triumph of the Egg (1921), Horses and Men (1923), and Death in the Woods (1933) were popular at the time. His autobiographical writings include Tar: A Midwest Childhood (1925) and The Story Teller's Story (1924), the Memoirs (1942), and Letters (1953). He exerted considerable influence over such writers as Hemingway and Faulkner, both of whom owe their first publications to his efforts. His reputation waned in the 1930s and he died he virtual obscurity while travelling in Central America, but his reputation revived in later years.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Agha Shahid Ali Biography to Ardoch Perth and Kinross