Anderson, Sherwood

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Anderson, Sherwood,

1876–1941, American novelist and short-story writer, b. Camden, Ohio. After serving briefly in the Spanish-American War, he became a successful advertising man and later a manager of a paint factory in Elyria, Ohio. Dissatisfied with his life, however, Anderson abandoned both his job and his family and went to Chicago to become a writer. His first novel, Windy McPherson's Son (1916), concerning a boy's life in Iowa, was followed by Marching Men (1917), a chronicle about the plight of the working man in an industrial society. In his best-known work, Winesburg, Ohio (1919), a closely integrated collection of stories, he explores the loneliness and frustration of small-town lives. This work contains perhaps the most successful expression of the theme that dominates all Anderson's works—the conflict between organized industrial society and the subconscious instincts of the individual. In his later novels—Poor White (1920), Many Marriages (1923), and Dark Laughter (1925)—he continues to explore, but generally with less skill, the spiritual and emotional sterility of a success-oriented machine age. Anderson's unique talent, however, found its best expression in his short stories. Such collections as The Triumph of the Egg (1921), Horses and Men (1923), and Death in the Woods (1933) contain some of his most compassionate and penetrating writing. In 1927, Anderson moved to Marion, Va., where he bought and edited two newspapers, one Republican and one Democratic.


See his autobiographical Story Teller's Story (1924) and Tar: A Midwest Childhood (1926); memoirs (1942); letters (ed. by H. M. Jones and W. B. Rideout, 1953); diaries (ed. by H. H. Campbell, 1987); biographies by I. Howe (1966) and K. Townsend (1987); studies by P. P. Appel, ed. (1970) and W. D. Taylor, ed. (1977).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Anderson, Sherwood


Born Sept. 13, 1876, in Camden, Ohio; died Mar. 8, 1941, in Colón, Panama. American writer.

Anderson was a soldier, factory manager, publisher, and editor. In 1916 he published the novel Windy McPherson’s Son. His collections of stories Winesburg, Ohio (1919, Russian translation 1925), The Triumph of the Egg (1921, Russian translation 1925), and Horses and Men (1923, Russian translation 1926) brought him literary fame. In these collections he realistically depicts spiritually impoverished American backwaters. In his novels Many Marriages (1923), Dark Laughter (1925), and Beyond Desire (1932, Russian translation 1933) he expressed sympathy for the working class.


Plays. New York, 1937.
Portable Sherwood Anderson. Edited by Horace Gregory. [New York,] 1949.
In Russian translation: Rasskazy. Moscow-Leningrad, 1959.


Dinamov, S. “Zhiznennyi put’ Shervuda Andersona.” Internatsional’naia lit-ra, 1935, no. 11.
Howe, I. Sherwood Anderson. Stanford, Calif., 1966.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Anderson, Sherwood (Berton)

(1876–1941) writer; born in Camden, Ohio. He was raised in the small town of Clyde, Ohio. After age 14 his schooling was erratic; after a succession of jobs he moved to Chicago. He served in the Spanish-American War (1898–99), then attended an academy in Springfield, Ohio. In 1900 he began working as a copywriter and he established his own mail-order company in Cleveland (1906). From his early years he despised business ethics and resented his dependence on business earnings, and in 1912, suffering from an amnesic nervous breakdown, he walked out on his family and his job managing a paint factory. After his recovery he resumed his Chicago advertising work (1913–22). After publishing two novels (1916, 1917) with the help of Theodore Dreiser and Carl Sandburg, he wrote Winesburg, Ohio (1919), the collection of stories that is considered his masterpiece. Subsequent works included his finest novel, Poor White (1920); another collection of stories, The Triumph of the Egg (1921); and the novels Many Marriages (1923) and Dark Laughter (1925). He won the first Dial literary award (1921). Private patronage after 1922 enabled him to move to a farm in Marion, Va., where he bought and edited two local newspapers (1927–29). Although his standing among his fellow writers remained high, the literary quality of his work declined greatly. Much of his late work, both journalistic and fictional, concerned Southern industrial conditions; roving reportage on the Depression was collected in Puzzled America (1935).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.