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Erskine Caldwell

Biography

Erskine Caldwell was born in 1902 (though he later claimed 1903) in Newnan, Georgia, the son of a minister and a teacher. In 1906 the family went to Wrens, Georgia, where Caldwell’s father served till his death in 1944 and where Tobacco Road is located. Caldwell attended Erskine College before attending the University of Virginia and the University of Pennsylvania. He did not graduate from any of these institutions. In 1925 he married Helen Lannegan. They had three children. Caldwell was doing odd jobs and writing, getting many rejections.

He first published in little magazines, where his writing caught the attention of Maxwell Perkins who published his stories and went on to publish his early novels. As well as writing novels and stories, Caldwell worked as a Hollywood scriptwriter and journalist, including as a foreign correspondent, covering the Spanish Civil War. In 1938 he divorced his first wife and, the following year, married the photographer, Margaret Bourke-White. He continued his travels, visiting Russia in 1941 when the Germans invaded and, while sympathetic to Russia, claimed he was no Communist. In 1942 he divorced Margaret Bourke-White and married June Johnson whom he later divorced to marry Virginia Moffett Fletcher. He died in 1987.

Caldwell is not much read today, except for Tobacco Road, not least because the social realism he espoused is unfashionable. However, he had considerable success in his day and holds the distinction of being widely censored for his realistic approach to sex and violence.

Books about Erskine Caldwell

Edwin T. Arnold: Erskine Caldwell Reconsidered
James E. Devlin: Erskine Caldwell
Harvey L. Klevar: Erskine Caldwell: A Biography (standard biography)
James Korges: Erskine Caldwell
Stanley W. Lindberg: The Legacy of Erskine Caldwell
Dan B. Miller: Erskine Caldwell: The Journey from Tobacco Road
Wayne Mixon: The People’s Writer: Erskine Caldwell and the South

Other links

Erskine Caldwell
Erskine Caldwell
Erskine Caldwell
Erskine Caldwell (1903-1987)
Caldwell, Erskine 1903-1987
The Erskine Caldwell Birthplace and Museum
Interview

Bibliography

1929 The Bastard
1930 Poor Fool
1931 American Earth
1932 Tobacco Road
1933 God’s Little Acre
1933 We Are The Living
1935 Journeyman
1935 Kneel to the Rising Sun
1935 Some American People
1935 Tenant Farmers
1936 The Sacrilege of Alan Kent
1937 You Have Seen Their Faces
1938 Southways
1939 North of the Danube
1940 Trouble In July
1940 Jackpot
1941 Say! Is This the U.S.A.?
1941 Complete Stories
1942 All-out on the Road to Smolensk
1942 Moscow Under Fire
1942 All Night Long, a Bovel of Guerrilla Warfare in Russia
1943 Georgia Boy
1944 A Day’s Wooing
1944 Tragic Ground
1945 Stories
1945 Where The Girls Were Different
1946 A House in the Uplands
1947 The Sure Hand of God
1948 This Very Earth
1948 Midsummer Passion
1949 A Place Called Estherville
1949 A Woman in the House
1950 Episode In Palmetto
1951 Call It Experience
1951 The Humorous Side of Erskine Caldwell
1952 A Lamp for Nightfall
1952 The Courting of Suzie Brown
1953 The Complete Stories of Erskine Caldwell
1954 Love and Money
1955 Gretta
1956 Gulf Coast Stories
1957 Certain Women
1958 Molly Cottontail
1958 Claudelle Inglish
1959 When You Think Of Me
1961 Men and Women
1961 Jenny by Nature
1961 Wordsmanship : the Theory, Practice and Rewards of
1962 Close to Home
1963 The Last Night of Summer
1964 Around About America
1965 In Search of Bisco
1966 The Deer At Our Home
1967 Miss Mama Aimee
1967 Writing in America
1967 In the Shadow of the Steeple (republished as : Deep South)
1968 Summertime Island
1969 The Weather Shelter
1971 The Earnshaw Neighborhood
1973 Annette
1976 Afternoons in Mid-America
1983 Stories of Life North & South
1984 The Black and White Stories
1987 With All My Might
1988 Conversations with Erskine Caldwell
1990 Midsummer Passion & Other Tales of Maine Cussedness