Harriette Arnow Biography
(1908–86), The Mountain Path, The Hunter's Horn, The Dollmaker, The Weedkiller's Daughter
American novelist, born in Wayne County, Kentucky, educated at the University of Louisville. Her writing career began with the publication of The Mountain Path (1936), followed by The Hunter's Horn (1949), the second volume of what was to be known as the Kentucky Trilogy. The Dollmaker (1954), the trilogy's final volume, remains her most celebrated work, and is widely considered a minor American classic; it tells the story of Gertie Nevels, who, when displaced from her rural home by her husband's migration to work in an urban factory, discovers a talent for whittling figures from wood. Compelled to create a masterwork—which may be an image either of Jesus or of Judas—Gertie nevertheless subjugates her natural gift in the cause of financial survival, producing, instead, cheap dolls for the mass market. Filmed for television in 1982 with Jane Fonda in the title role, the novel raises questions of feminism, creativity, and survival never quite equalled in Arnow's other works, which include the novels The Weedkiller's Daughter (1970) and The Kentucky Trace: A Novel of the American Revolution (1974).