Cambridge Encyclopedia » Cambridge Encyclopedia Vol. 67

Sherwood (Berton) Anderson - Biography, Quotations

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Writer, born in Camden, Ohio, USA. He was raised in the small town of Clyde, Ohio. From age 14 his education was erratic, and after a succession of jobs he moved to Chicago. He served in the Spanish-American War (1898–9), then attended an academy in Springfield, OH. In 1900 he began working as a copywriter, then established his own mail-order company in Cleveland (1906). From his early years he despised business ethics and resented his dependence on business earnings. 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), and 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. Later works include his finest novel, Poor White (1920), a further 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), and private patronage after 1922 enabled him to move to a farm in Marion, VA, where he bought and edited two local newspapers (1927–9). Although his standing among 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, and his roving reportage on the Depression was collected in Puzzled America (1935).

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