White, William Allen

White, William Allen,

1868–1944, American author, b. Emporia, Kans., studied (1886–90) at Kansas State Univ. As owner and editor of the Emporia Gazette from 1895 until his death, he represented grass roots political opinion throughout the nation. In 1896 his famous editorial, "What's the Matter with Kansas?," attacked the Populists and helped elect McKinley, the Republican candidate. A spokesman for small town life and a liberal Republican, White feared the results of excessive industrialization. His fiction reflects his social and political views. In 1923. he won a Pulitzer Prize for his editorials. His writings include short stories, the novel A Certain Rich Man (1909), a biography of Woodrow Wilson (1924), two biographies of Calvin Coolidge (1925, 1938), and two collections of his newspaper writings, The Editor and His People (1924) and Forty Years on Main Street (1937).


See his autobiography (1946; Pulitzer Prize) and selected letters (ed. by W. Johnson, 1947).

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White, William Allen

(1868–1944) journalist, author; born in Emporia, Kans. He quit college to become business manager of the El Dorado Republican and, later, an editorial writer for the Kansas City Star. In 1895, borrowing $3,000, he bought the small, rural Emporia Gazette, which he published and edited for the rest of his life, besides contributing articles and short stories to many other publications. His 1896 editorial attacking populism was widely circulated by Republicans during that year's presidential campaign and made him famous; he came to be regarded as an independent-minded, commonsensical spokesman for small-town America. A 1921 essay on his daughter's death in a riding accident became a classic, and a 1922 editorial supporting striking railroad workers brought him a Pulitzer Prize. He also wrote novels and biographies of Woodrow Wilson (1921) and Calvin Coolidge (1925, 1938). His autobiography, published in 1946, won a posthumous Pulitzer Prize.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.