Erskine Caldwell

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Related to Erskine Caldwell: Erskine Preston Caldwell

Caldwell, Erskine

(kôld`wəl), 1903–87, American author, b. White Oak, Ga. His realistic and earthy novels of the rural South include Tobacco Road (1933), God's Little Acre (1933), This Very Earth (1948), and Summertime Island (1969). Among his volumes of short stories are Jackpot (1940) and Gulf Coast Stories (1956). With his second wife, Margaret Bourke-WhiteBourke-White, Margaret
, 1904–71, American photo-journalist, b. New York City. One of the original staff photographers at Fortune, Life, and Time magazines, Bourke-White was noted for her coverage of World War II, particularly of the invasion of Russia and
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, he published You Have Seen Their Faces (1937), about Southern sharecroppers.


See E. T. Arnold, ed., Conversations with Erskine Caldwell (1988); biography by D. B. Miller (1995); study by J. E. Devlin (1984).

Caldwell, Erskine


Born Dec. 17, 1903, in White Oak, Ga. American writer. Son of a minister.

Caldwell tried several professions in his youth. He made his writing debut with the short-story collection American Earth (1931). The theme of the provincial US South, with its racism, cruelty, and violence, was intensified in Caldwell’s subsequent short-story collections and the novels Tobacco Road (1932; Russian translation, 1938) and God’s Little Acre (1933).

From June to September, 1941, Caldwell was a correspondent in Moscow. He wrote journalistic accounts (Moscow Under Fire, 1942, and All-out on the Road to Smolensk, 1942) and the novel All Night Long (1942) about guerrilla warfare during the Great Patriotic War (1941–45). He visited the USSR again in 1959 and in 1963.

Caldwell’s writing was revitalized in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s—for example, the antiracist passion of the novels Jenny by Nature (1961) and Close to Home (1962). In the second half of the 1960’s, Caldwell began working in a journalistic documentary genre: both Writing in America (1967) and Deep South: Reminiscences and Reflections (1968) were concerned with the growth of self-knowledge among the “colored” in the most backward corners of the South. Caldwell’s realistic writing style is marked by humor, a sense of the grotesque, and the use of folklore.


The Complete Stories. Toronto, 1953.
The Weather Shelter. London, 1970.
In Russian translation:
Povesti i rasskazy. Moscow, 1956.
Dzhenni, Blizhe k domu. Moscow, 1963.
“Vdol’ i poperek Ameriki.” Neva, 1965, no. 6.


Iatsenko, V. I. Erskin Kolduell. Irkutsk, 1967.
Kashkin, I. Dlia chitatelia-sovremennika. Moscow, 1968. Pages 127–39.


Caldwell, Erskine (Preston)

(1903–87) writer; born in Moreland, Ga. In his early years he was a Hollywood screenwriter and foreign correspondent. His first novels, Tobacco Road (1932) and God's Little Acre (1933), were widely banned for obscenity, but they created an enduring portrait of "white trash" and stimulated others to write frankly about the South they knew. He produced 50 volumes of fiction, travel writing, and memoirs, but his literary reputation declined with later works. He collaborated on several books with his wife, photographer Margaret Bourke-White.
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Erskine Caldwell and the Fiction of Poverty: The Flesh and the Spirit.
This is a welcome book--the best single authored, comprehensive study to date of Erskine Caldwell, a significant and neglected author.
From Moberly, Missouri, he edited a leftist magazine, The Anvil (1933-37), following it with a Chicago magazine edited with <IR> NELSON ALGREN </IR> , The New Anvil (1939-41); contributors included Erskine Caldwell, James T.
There was Woody Guthrie with his ballads about the injustices suffered by the poor folk, the sharecroppers and dirt-scratchers, which seemed to strum through the stories of John Steinbeck and Erskine Caldwell.
Keneth Kinnamon observes that, in addition to these novels, "several reviewers likened Wright to the socially conscious novelists Erskine Caldwell, Charles Dickens, James T.
The Critical Response to Erskine Caldwell, edited by Robert L.
The Tents of Wickedness is in part a parody of other writers, including Faulkner, Erskine Caldwell, and Graham Greene.
His 1979 Pembroke Magazine essay, "Reasons for Reading, Studying, and Teaching Erskine Caldwell," sharply protests Caldwell's exclusion from the canon of modern American literature, calling it "one of the major embarrassments of recent literary history" (p.
Other writers whom Perkins discovered or assisted in their early careers included Erskine Caldwell, Edmund Wilson, John P.
Wilson, Dreiser, and Sherwood Anderson reported on the plight of the Kentucky mining towns, and others wrote about textile workers in Gastonia, North Carolina; Erskine Caldwell wrote about the misery of Southern sharecroppers, and Meridel LeSueur chronicled the lives of desperately poor women during the 1930s.
Georgia Boys: The Redclay Satyrs of Erskine Caldwell and Harry Crews," Virginia Quaterly Review, 56 (1986), 619.