Erskine Caldwell

Erskine Caldwell


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Erskine Caldwell, the son of a missionary, was born in Coweta, Georgia, on 17th December, 1903. As a child he travelled with his father and developed a concern for the poor. He was educated at the University of Virginia but did not graduate.

Caldwell moved to Maine in 1926 where he began writing for various journals including the New Masses and the Yale Review. He also published several novels but it was not until Tobacco Road (1932), a novel about the plight of poor sharecroppers, that critics began to take notice of his work. Dramatized by Jack Kirkland in 1933, it made American theatre history when it ran for over seven years on Broadway.

His next novel, God's Little Acre (1933) was also about poor whites living in the rural South. Both novels dealt with social injustice and many people objected to the impression it gave of America. When the New York Society for the Prevention of Vice tried to stop the book from being sold, Caldwell took the case to court and with the testimony of critics such as H. L. Mencken and Sherwood Anderson, won his case.

In 1936 Caldwell met and married the photographer, Margaret Bourke-White. They collaborated on You Have Seen Their Faces (1937), a documentary account of impoverished living conditions in the South. Other books by the couple included Russia at War (1942), North of the Danube (1975) and Say, is This the U.S.A.? (1977).

During the Second World War he worked as a newspaper reporter in the Soviet Union. An account of his experiences appeared in All Out on the Road to Smolensk (1942) and Call It Experience (1951). By the late 1940s Caldwell had sold more books than any author in America's history. God's Little Acre alone sold over fourteen million copies. His attacks on poverty, racism and the tenant farming system, had a significant impact on public opinion.

Caldwell wrote numerous short stories: collections include Jackpot (1940) and The Courting of Susie Brown (1952). Essays on his travels throughout the United States appeared in Around About America (1964) and Afternoons in Mid-America (1976).

Erskine Caldwell died in Arizona on 11th April, 1987.

Clinton, Louisiana: There are no landlords striding over their Mississippi Delta plantations cracking ten-foot braided-leather whips at their Negro sharecroppers' heels. At least there are only a few. Peonage, like lynching, is not condoned in theory; but conditions, usually best described as local, are sometimes called upon to justify it in practice. And when a plantation-owner feels the urge tp beat and whip and maul a Negro, there are generally several within sight or sound to chose from. Keeping a Negro constantly in physical bondage would be an unnecessary expense and chore; the threat of physical violence is enough.

Magee, Mississippi: The white farmer has not always been the lazy, slipshod, good-for-nothing person that he is frequently described as being. Somewhere in his span of life he became frustrated. He felt defeated. He felt the despair and dejection that comes from defeat. He was made aware of the limitations of life imposed upon those unfortunate enough to be made slaves of sharecropping. Out of his predicament grew desperation, out of desperation grew resentment. His bitterness was a taste his tongue would always know.

In a land that has long been glorified in the supremacy of the white race, he directed his resentment against the black man. His normal instincts became perverted. He became wasteful and careless. He became bestial. He released his pent-up emotions by lynching the black man in order to witness the mental and physical suffering of another human being. He became cruel and inhuman in everyday life as his resentment and bitterness increased. He released his energy from day to day by beating mules and dogs, by whipping and kicking an animal into insensibility or to death. When his own suffering was more than he could stand, he could live only by witnessing the suffering of others.

Peterson: Alabama: The house was dirty and disheveled. He and his wife no longer had any pride in their home or in their appearance. They went unwashed. He sat in the shade, his hat pulled over his eyes, and watched the spring come, the summers go. The older children struggled with cotton. It did not matter much to him then. He found a shack several miles away. He got the owner's permission to live in it on the promise of making the children work out the rent in the cottonfield.

The children, old and young, worked for the landlord to pay the rent on the shack. After that, one of them would find a day's work occasionally, and earn enough to buy cornmeal and molasses, sometimes meat. The shack was without a floor. There was only one bed. They lived in two rooms, the eight of them. The youngest child died of pneumonia. The two oldest boys left home one day and did not come back again.

We've been here most of our lives, my husband and me, and I feel like I'm done for, and my husband looks it. If it wasn't for our boy, we just couldn't get any cotton raised to pay the rent. My husband is just no account. He sits there on the porch all day looking out across the road and don't pretend to move. My daughter is only half-bright, and can't do nothing much more than sweep a room, and she's not good at that. I've got body sickness and can't stand working in the fields any more, and it's all I can do to drag myself around the house and cook a little food. All I feel like doing most of the time is finding me a nice place to lay myself down in and die.

Don't ask me whose fault it is. I don't know. I don't even know anybody who thinks he knows. All I know is that one man out of ten makes a living, and more, out of cotton, and the other nine poor devils get the short end of the stick. It's my business to sit here in the bank and make it a rule to be in when that one farmer shows up to borrow money, and to be out when the other nine show up. Some nights I can't sleep at all for lying awake wondering what's going to happen to all those losing tenant farmers. A lot of them are hungry, ragged, and sick. Everybody knows about it, but nobody does anything about it. If the government doesn't do something about the losing cotton farmers, we'd be doing them a favor to go out and shot them out of their misery.


The Little Manse - Erskine Caldwell Museum

The nineteenth century farmhouse features art, memorabilia and press about the famous, edge cutting twentieth century novelist, Erskine Caldwell. His books, such as "Tobacco Road" and "God's Little Acre," inspired the love of Hollywood, the respect of readers of fine literature, the wrath of those who didn't appreciate his portrayal of poverty-stricken reality in the South, and recently the honor of his hometown.

The Little Manse: Erskine Caldwell Birthplace and Museum, c. 1879 is located on the Town Square across from Historic Moreland Mill. Open Thurs. - Saturday, from 10 a.m-3 p.m. by appointment.

  • Free Parking
  • Self-guided Tours
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  • All Ages
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Collection inventory

Erskine Caldwell (1903-1987) was an American author known for writing about the American South. Caldwell grew up in the South (Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, and North and South Carolina) and his novels -- the most famous of which are Tobacco Road and God's Little Acre -- deal with problems faced by Southerners in the mid-twentieth century including poverty and racism. His second wife was the noted photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Erskine Caldwell Papers comprise 16 boxes of correspondence-subject files, writings, financial materials, and memorabilia documenting the 7 year span of the author's professional and intense personal relationship with photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White. Acquired as part of the Margaret Bourke-White Papers, there are few materials in the collection either before 1936 or after 1942, the year the couple divorced.

Correspondence-subject files are arranged alphabetically in 7 archival boxes and include business and professional files as well as personal and biographical materials. Correspondence which is of the greatest depth and duration includes that of Margaret Bourke-White, parents Ira and Caroline Caldwell, former wife Helen Caldwell Cushman, publishers Duell, Sloan & Pearce, Inc., agent Maxim Lieber, Life, artist Alfred Morang, PM, attorney Julius Weiss, and Caldwell and Bourke-White secretaries Margaret Salter and Margaret Smith, both of whom presided over the couple's often long-distance correspondences.

Writings comprise articles about the Russian front, typescript manuscripts and/or production records of books, short stories, production records, scripts, including untitled radio scripts from Moscow miscellaneous drafts, typescript manuscripts, and notes on trips press wireless releases Caldwell sent from Moscow while covering the German invasion of Russia for Life and PM and printed short stories. They are arranged by type in 2 archival boxes and are almost solely works by Caldwell. Box 8 contains articles about the Russian front typescript manuscripts and/or production records of books (God's Little Acre, Southways, Tobacco Road) production records of You Have Seen Their Faces (in collaboration with Bourke-White) scripts, including untitled radio scripts from Moscow and typescript manuscripts of short stories. Box 9 contains miscellaneous drafts, typescript manuscripts, and notes on trips as well as press wireless releases Caldwell sent from Moscow while covering the German invasion of Russia for Life and PM, and printed short stories.

Financial materials (Boxes 9-15) include 3 years of cancelled checks, various household receipts (from grocery, utility and landscaping bills to car information and poll tax receipts), 4 years of royalty statements from the London, New York, and road company productions of Tobacco Road, and stocks and bonds information.

Memorabilia comprises addresses, clippings, contracts, publicity flyers, recipes, Caldwell's wallet and contents, a 1939 will, and miscellaneous printed material. Box 16 contains mostly personal photos of Caldwell and Bourke-White at their home, with their pets, or traveling and working together, some or which were taken by Bourke-White. There are some publicity photos and a few pre-1936 pictures of Caldwell's first wife and children.

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The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

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Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Erskine Caldwell Papers,
Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Library

Finding Aid Information

Created by: SEHG
Date: Apr 1990
Revision history: 25 Sep 2006 - converted to EAD (AMCon) 20 Mar 2013 - press release xrefs added (MRC) 8 Apr 2013 - Lewis, John corrected (MRC) 4 Feb 2016 - oversize box corrected, bioghist added (MRC)


Erskine Caldwell (1903-1987)

Colin Campbell, "Hall of Fame Panel Sorts Out Best of Georgia Literature," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, April 2, 2000.

Sylvia Jenkins Cook, Erskine Caldwell and the Fiction of Poverty: The Flesh and the Spirit (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1991).

Sylvia Jenkins Cook, From Tobacco Road to Route 66: The Southern Poor White in Fiction (1976 Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012).

Harvey L. Klevar, Erskine Caldwell: A Biography (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1993).

James Korges, Erskine Caldwell (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1969).

Scott MacDonald, ed., Critical Essays on Erskine Caldwell (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1981).

Robert L. McDonald, ed., The Critical Response to Erskine Caldwell (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1997).

Shields McIlwaine, The Southern Poor-White from Lubberland to Tobacco Road (1939 New York: Cooper Square, 1970).

Dan B. Miller, Erskine Caldwell: The Journey from Tobacco Road (New York: Knopf, 1994).

Wayne Mixon, The People's Writer: Erskine Caldwell and the South (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1995).


FOR ERSKINE CALDWELL, 50 YEARS OF SUCCESSES

FIFTY years ago they emerged from the backwoods of Georgia, shiftless and uneducated poor whites bearing such unfamiliar names as Jeeter, Ellie May, Sister Bessie, Ty Ty and Darling Jill. Underfed and oversexed, their public passions, petty jealousies and frequent fits of anger stunned an American public that had barely been aware of their existence.

Today, long after the conditions that spawned them have largely disappeared, their names remain etched in the American consciousness. For they are characters from ''Tobacco Road'' and ''God's Little Acre,'' Erskine Caldwell's novels of deprivation and depravity in the Deep South.

Praised for calling attention to deplorable conditions in the rural South and damned for having exaggerated those conditions, the books were widely commented upon but rarely ignored. Together they have sold more than 17 million copies, making them two of the biggest sellers of all time. Moreover, an adaptation of ''Tobacco Road'' ran for a record seven-and-a-half consecutive years on Broadway, and the movie version still turns up on television.

But the books' appeal stemmed as much from shock as from sociology. Few books of the Depression, other than those that came in plain brown wrappers, contained the earthy language or explicit sex offered up by Mr. Caldwell, a native of Wrens, Ga., and the son of a Presbyterian minister. Many Protests Registered

The author was denounced from pulpits, a number of cities banned the books, and libraries removed them from their shelves.

To this day, Mr. Caldwell professes surprise at the reaction. ''I was not trying to prove anything,'' he said in a recent interview. ''I was writing about the people I knew. I lived in the same neighborhood as the Tobacco Road fraternity and I went to school in the area. I knew very little about life outside the South. I was only trying to tell a story.''

With more than 50 books of fiction and nonfiction to his credit, Mr. Caldwell, who will be 79 years old on Dec. 17, has told many stories. ''More than 100 million copies of his books have been printed around the world, and his short stories continue to be included in anthologies,'' said Patricia S. Myrer, his literary agent.

But those first two books, ''Tobacco Road'' published in 1932 and ''God's Little Acre'' in 1933, are the ones that established his reputation. Ranking as Southern Writer

In the 1930's Mr. Caldwell was hailed as America's premiere proletarian novelist. And a few years ago an admiring Calder Willingham, another Southern novelist, said, 'ɺ good case can be made that the inventor of 'Tobacco Road' - far more than William Faulkner, Thomas Wolfe, Carson McCullers, Flannery Oɼonnor, Eudora Welty, Robert Penn Warren, or any other Southern writer one can think of - is the true mythmaker of post-bellum Southern literature.''

Mr. Caldwell himself professes unconcern about his ultimate literary standing. ''Maybe my two novels will stand up as artifacts for people who are interested in what it was like during the Great Depression,'' he said. ''It's hard for people today to think of life without Social Security and food stamps, but they didn't exist at the time I wrote those books.''

''Tobacco Road'' was Mr. Caldwell's third novel but his first financial success. Until then, after leaving his $25-a-week job as a reporter on The Atlanta Journal in 1926, he spent seven lean years on a Maine farm trying to make it as a fulltime writer. Success as Book Reviewer

''I was sort of a caretaker, so I didn't have to pay rent,'' he recalled. ''I raised potatoes so I always had something to eat and I cut wood to keep warm. I had the good fortune to persuade a woman on The Charlotte Observer to let me review books. It didn't pay anything, but when I finished the reviews Iɽ sell the books for 25 cents to second-hand bookstores.''

In his autobiography, '⟊ll It Experience,'' Mr. Caldwell recounts how he sent one story a day for a week to Maxwell Perkins, the Scribner's book editor who doubled as editor of Scribner's Magazine.

Mr. Perkins rejected them all (although most were subsequently published without payment in the smaller literary magazines). So Mr. Caldwell sent Mr. Perkins two stories a week. The editor finally accepted two of them to run in the same issue of the magazine.

When Mr. Perkins said he would pay ''two-fifty'' for both of them, Mr. Caldwell replied: 'Two-fifty? I don't know. I thought maybe Iɽ receive a little more than that.'' So Mr. Perkins upped the payment to three-fifty. ''I guess that'll be all right,'' Mr. Caldwell replied. ''Iɽ thought Iɽ get a little more than three dollars and a half, though, for both of them.'' Big Difference in Figures

Said a mystified Maxwell Perkins: ''Three dollars and fifty cents? Oh, no! I must have given you the wrong impression, Caldwell. Not three dollars and a half. No, I meant $350.''

The astonished author replied that $350 would be just fine, and not long afterward he sold ''Tobacco Road'' to Mr. Perkins. Soon after that, Mr. Caldwell moved to Easy Street: At one point during the Broadway run, he wrote in his autobiography, he was earning about $2,000 a week in royalties from the play and about $1,000 a month in royalties from the book.

He also earned a lot of money from Darryl Zanuck's movie version of ''Tobacco Road,'' but he would just as soon forget that he describes the result as ''one of the most conspicuous failures in cinematic history'' because of its falsified happy ending.

Jack Kirkland wrote the stage version of ''Tobacco Road'' and it made theatrical history when it opened in 1933. Advantage of Obscenity

''The immediate success of 'Tobacco Road' probably derived from the scandal value of its foul language and its reputation for obscenity -both in short supply in 1933,'' wrote Brooks Atkinson in his book 'ɻroadway.'' But Mr. Atkinson added that the work was 'ɺ genuine folk play that substituted brutal truth for the bucolic charm of the genre.''

Mr. Caldwell's writing career has been more versatile than most. He wrote Hollywood scripts for about five years. In 1941 he reported from Russia for Life magazine, CBS radio and the newspaper PM. He wrote articles from Mexico and Czechoslovakia for the North American Newspaper Alliance. And his books consist of two dozen novels, 10 short story collections, an autobiography and a dozen works of nonfiction ranging from ''Tenant Farmers'' (1935) to ''In Search of Bisco,'' (1965), an evocative account of a visit to the scenes of his childhood.

He also collaborated with the photographer Margaret Bourke-White, the second of his four wives, on text-picture books about prewar Czechoslovakia, wartime Russia and the American South. Sales Called ɾxtraordinary'

''His sales have been simply extraordinary, even for books you don't think of in connection with Erskine Caldwell,'' said William R. Grose, editor in chief of New American Library.

The library has printed in paperback more than 48 million copies of various Caldwell titles. ''God's Little Acre'' alone has sold 8.2 million copies in 65 printings while ''Tobacco Road'' has sold some 3.8 million copies in 46 printings. Meanwhile, the library has just reissued special 50th anniversary editions of both books.

Mr. Caldwell and Virginia, his wife of 25 years, have lived in Scottsdale, Ariz., for the last five years. The Governor of Arizona, Bruce Babbitt, had proclaimed November 'ɾrskine Caldwell Month,'' and the Phoenix Little Theater recently revived ''Tobacco Road.''

Mr. Caldwell said that to the best of his knowledge there has not been a week in last 49 years that the play had not been performed somewhere in the world Working on Travel Diary

Mr. Caldwell is now writing a travel diary. He has traveled extensively most of his life, even revisiting his native state. ''There's been great economic and social change in Georgia, as elsewhere in the South,'' he said. ''With all the Federal and state money, there is not the dire poverty that I saw. The remnants of Tobacco Road are still there, back in the ravines and hollows of the mountains, but the sharecropper existence has disappeared and people can apply for food stamps.''

Asked whether his books had helped accelerate that change, Mr. Caldwell thought for a moment and replied, ''It's been said that they allowed people to see with their own eyes what they couldn't see from calculated ignorance or blindness. But remember, I didn't try to change or reform the world I only wanted to report on it.''


ERSKINE CALDWELL, 83, IS DEAD WROTE STARK NOVELS OF SOUTH

Erskine Caldwell, the prolific novelist whose accounts of deprivation and depravity in the Depression-era Deep South brought him instant fame and instant notoriety, died of lung cancer Saturday in Paradise Valley, Ariz. He was 83 years old and lived in Paradise Valley.

Mr. Caldwell wrote more than 50 books, including ''Tobacco Road'' (1932) and ''God's Little Acre'' (1933), which were two of the biggest sellers of all time but made Mr. Caldwell one of the most controversial writers in the United States. On Faulkner's List

William Faulkner named Mr. Caldwell one of the five best contemporary American writers, along with himself, Thomas Wolfe, Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos.

Mr. Caldwell received generally warm reviews for such novels as ''Journeyman'' (1933), ''Trouble in July'' (1940) and ''Tragic Ground'' (1944), each of which was part of a 10-novel ''Southern cyclorama'' that included ''Tobacco Road'' and ''God's Little Acre.'' Many critics also hailed ''Georgia Boy'' (1944) and ''In Search of Bisco'' (1965), the latter an evocative account of the author's unsuccessful search for a boyhood friend.

Yet in recent years, while Mr. Caldwell remained popular in foreign countries, he lapsed into relative obscurity in the United States. It had been years since he wrote a big seller, and for the last 20 years or so he generally shunned interviews and public appearances. Moreover, his spare, direct prose style, which so captivated critics in the 1930's and 40's, eventually fell out of fashion and favor. An Anniversary Revival

Mr. Caldwell enjoyed a brief revival in 1982, the 50th anniversary of the publication of ''Tobacco Road.'' New American Library marked the occasion by reissuing new paperback editions of ''Tobacco Road'' and ''God's Little Acre,'' which together had sold 17 million copies.

The initial success of both those novels owed much to their shock value. Mr. Caldwell's direct style was never more evident than in the unadorned descriptions of Jeeter, Ellie May, Ty Ty, Darling Jill and a galaxy of other poor Southern whites publicly parading their fiery passions, erotic appetites, petty jealousies and frequent fits of anger. Their language would cause little stir today, but 50 years ago it was considered so obscene that the books were banned in a number of cities and removed from the shelves of many libraries.

Mr. Caldwell took the controversy over his 'ɽirty'' books in stride, yet he never resigned himself to attempts to force him into a literary or political mold. Because many of his books dealt with the Deep South, some critics tried to link him with the so-called ''Southern tradition,'' despite his insistence that he belonged to no literary school and that many of his books were about other areas of the country and other parts of the world.

Because his early books called attention to the plight of the sharecroppers, he was hailed as America's premier proletarian novelist. That distinction won him a large following in the Soviet Union, where for years he was one of the most popular American authors, but during the cold war it also won him the enmity of some American conservatives, who denounced him as a tool of Moscow.

Through it all, Mr. Caldwell insisted that his purpose had never been to change the world but only to report on it.

''I was not trying to prove anything,'' he said in 1982. ''I was writing about the people I knew. I lived in the same neighborhood as the Tobacco Road fraternity and I went to school in the area. I knew very little about life outside the South. I was only trying to tell a story.''

That attitude typified Mr. Caldwell's views generally. Asked in an interview in The Georgia Review in 1982 whether he had become involved in the civil-rights movement of the 1960's and 70's, Mr. Caldwell replied that he had not.

''Naturally, I approved of the attempt to desegregate the South because my sympathy has long been that segregation is wrong and should be terminated,'' he said. ''So I watched with interest what went on. But I'm a writer, not a crusader. I leave the crusading to others.'' Father a Clergyman

Mr. Caldwell was born Dec. 17, 1903, on what he described as 'ɺn isolated farm deep in the piney-woods country of the red clay hills of Coweta County, in middle Georgia.'' He traveled the region's many tobacco roads with his clergyman father, during which he observed the habits and speech patterns that he would later incorporate into his writing.

He briefly attended the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Virginia, but he left to become a reporter on The Atlanta Journal, at a salary of $25 a week.

In 1925 he married Helen Lannegan, with whom he later had three children and from whom he was later divorced, and the following year he settled on a farm in Maine where for the next seven years he tried to succeed as full-time writer.

'I was sort of a caretaker, so I didn't have to pay rent,'' he recalled. ''I raised potatoes so I always had something to eat and I cut wood to keep warm. I had the good fortune to persuade a woman on The Charlotte Observer to let me review books. It didn't pay anything, but when I finished the reviews Iɽ sell the books for 25 cents to secondhand bookstores.''

In an autobiography, '⟊ll It Experience'' (1951), Mr. Caldwell recounted how he sent one story a day for a week to Maxwell Perkins, the Scribner's book editor who doubled as editor of Scribner's Magazine. Mr. Perkins rejected them all, so Mr. Caldwell sent him two stories a week until the editor finally accepted two of them to run in the same issue of the magazine. Wrong Impression on Offer

When Mr. Perkins said he would pay ''two-fifty'' for both of them, Mr. Caldwell replied: ''Two-fifty? I don't know. I thought maybe Iɽ receive a little more than that.'' So Mr. Perkins upped the payment to three-fifty. ''I guess that'll be all right,'' Mr. Caldwell replied. ''Iɽ thought Iɽ get a little more than three dollars and a half, though, for both of them.''

A mystified Mr. Perkins replied: ''Three dollars and fifty cents? Oh, no! I must have given you the wrong impression, Caldwell. Not three dollars and a half. No. I meant $350.''

By then Mr. Caldwell had already written the novels ''The Bastard'' (1929) and ''Poor Fool'' (1930) as well as 'ɺmerican Earth'' (1930), a collection of stories.

Soon afterward he sold ''Tobacco Road'' to Mr. Perkins, and he never again had to worry about succeeding as a full-time writer. Jack Kirkland's stage adaptation of the novel ran for seven and a half consecutive years on Broadway, beginning in 1933, bringing the author $2,000 a week in royalties. Hollywood also bought the book, but Mr. Caldwell described Darryl Zanuck's 1941 movie version as ''one of the most conspicuous failures in cinematic history'' because of its falsified happy ending.

Mr. Caldwell wrote two dozen novels, 10 short-story collections, an autobiography, a dozen works of nonfiction, plus four books with the photographer Margaret Bourke-White. They married in 1939, two years after collaborating on ''You Have Seen Their Faces,'' a text-picture book about the South, and subsequently collaborated on books about prewar Czechoslovakia and wartime Russia.

Mr. Caldwell reported from the Soviet Union in 1941 for Life magazine, CBS radio and the newspaper PM. He wrote Hollywood scripts for about five years, and he also wrote articles from Mexico and Czechoslovakia for the North American Newspaper Alliance. Home-State Honors in 1980's

In 1942, after a divorce, Mr. Caldwell married June Johnson, with whom he had a son, Jay. In 1957, after they divorced, he married Virginia Fletcher, who drew the illustrations for several of his more recent books. They lived for many years in San Francisco, until moving to Scottsdale, Ariz., in 1977.

In 1984, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1985, as part of a program organized by the Georgia Endowment for the Humanities, Mr. Caldwell was invited back to Georgia, which he fled in the 1920's, and there were teas and lectures and even a Sunday picnic in his honor.

Mr. Caldwell said that even then, so many years after the publication of the two novels that brought him fame, there was a woman at the county library who wanted nothing to do with him. ''She wouldn't talk to me - she avoided me whenever I came by,'' Mr. Caldwell said during his visit. ''Whenever I walked through the library, I could feel her cold stare.''

''There's been great economic and social change in Georgia, as elsewhere in the South,'' Mr. Caldwell said in an interview in The New York Times in 1982. ''With all the Federal and state money, there is not the dire poverty that I saw. The remnants of Tobacco Road are still there, back in the ravines and hollows of the mountains, but the sharecropper existence has disappeared and people can apply for food stamps.''

As to whether his books had helped accelerate that change, Mr. Caldwell replied: ''It's been said that they allowed people to see with their own eyes what they couldn't see from calculated ignorance or blindness. But remember, I didn't try to change or reform the world I only wanted to report on it.''

A heavy smoker since 1918, Mr. Caldwell had twice undergone operations for removal of portions of his lungs.


Erskine Caldwell - History

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Size 62 items
Abstract Letters, 1929-1931, from Erskine Caldwell (1903- ), to Richard Johns (1904-1970), editor of "Pagany," about material submitted by Caldwell to the magazine, the craft of writing, other material in "Pagany," other magazines and writers, and Caldwell's own work and publishing plans. There are a few family letters, 1943, to Margaret Bourke-White, from whom Caldwell had just been divorced clippings about Caldwell a typescript of a chapter from a biography of Caldwell dealing with his marriage to Helen Caldwell Cushman and other items.
Creator Caldwell, Erskine, 1903-1987.
Language English
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Letters, 1929-1931, from Erskine Caldwell (1903- ), to Richard Johns (1904-1970), editor of "Pagany," about material submitted by Caldwell to the magazine, the craft of writing, other material in "Pagany," other magazines and writers, and Caldwell's own work and publishing plans. There are a few family letters, 1943, to Margaret Bourke-White, from whom Caldwell had just been divorced clippings about Caldwell a typescript of a chapter from a biography of Caldwell dealing with his marriage to Helen Caldwell Cushman and other items.


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Erskine Caldwell - History

a.k.a. Erskine Preston Caldwell

Born: Dec. 17, 1903 - Moreland, Georgia, USA

Died: Apr. 11, 1987 - Paradise Valley, Arizona, USA

Caldwell was educated at Erskine College, although he did not receive a degree. During his youth, he had traveled throughout the South with his father, a Presbyterian minister. This experience would form the foundation for much of his later work. In 1929, he published his first book, Bastard, which was banned almost immediately. During the 1930's he managed a bookstore in Maine with his first wife and it was at this time that he produced his two most famous, and controversial, works Tobacco Road (1932) and God's Little Acre. The latter caused much controversy and ended in Caldwell's arrest - so much for free speech in America - and subsequent law suit by him for unlawful arrest. In 1939, he married the photographer Margaret Bourke-White, but was divorced three years later. During World War II, Caldwell spent time in the Ukraine as a foreign correspondent. After the war, he settled in San Francisco. He continued to write until his death from lung cancer in 1987. His other works include Journeyman (1935), You Have Seen Their Faces (1937), Trouble in July (1940), All Night Long (1942), Georgia Boy (1943), A House in the Uplands (1946), A Place Called Estherville (1949), Call It Experience (1951), Jenny By Nature (1951), The Last Night of Summer (1963), Annette (1973) and his autobiography, With All My Might (1987).

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Erskine Caldwell American Novelist

According to our records, Erskine Caldwell is possibly single.

Relationships

Erskine Caldwell was previously married to Virginia Moffett (1957 - 1987) , June Johnson (1942) , Margaret Bourke-White (1939 - 1942) and Helen Lannigan (1925 - 1938) .

About

Erskine Caldwell is a member of the following lists: American novelists, Deaths from lung cancer and American Presbyterians.

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Relationship Statistics

TypeTotalLongestAverageShortest
Married4 79 years, 6 months 31 years, 8 months 3 years, 9 months
Total4 79 years, 6 months 31 years, 8 months 3 years, 9 months

Details

First Name Erskine
Middle Name Preston
Last Name Caldwell
Full Name at Birth Erskine Preston Caldwell
Alternative Name Erskine Preston Caldwell, Erskine Caldwell
Age 83 (age at death) years
Birthday 17th December, 1903
Birthplace Moreland, Coweta County, Georgia, USA
Died 11th April, 1987
Place of Death Paradise Valley, Arizona, USA
Cause of Death (lung Cancer)
Buried Scenic Hills Memorial Park, Ashland, Jackson County, Oregon, USA
Zodiac Sign Sagittarius
Nationality American
Occupation Text Writer | Actor | Soundtrack
Occupation Novelist

Erskine Preston Caldwell (December 17, 1903 – April 11, 1987) was an American novelist and short story writer. His writings about poverty, racism and social problems in his native Southern United States, in novels such as Tobacco Road (1932) and God's Little Acre (1933) won him critical acclaim, but his advocacy of eugenics and the sterilization of Georgia's poor whites became less popular following World War II.


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