Anderson in Central Park, New York

     Sherwood Anderson was born on September 13, 1876, in Camden, Ohio. As a child, Anderson was forced to work at odd jobs to help alleviate the family's financial stress. Because of this and other interests, Anderson left high school before graduating.

      After serving in the Spanish-American War, he worked with his brother as an artist for the the Crowell Publishing Company in Springfield, Ohio. By means of the connections he made while working at Crowell, Anderson was able to secure a job as a copywriter in Chicago.

      In 1904 he married Cornelia Lane and in 1906 he left Chicago for a mail-order business in Cleveland and then two paint maufacturing companies. On November 27, 1912, Anderson disappeared from his office and reappeared, disoriented and disheveled, four days later. Anderson referred to his mental breakdown as a concious break from his materialistic existence.

      He returned to Chicago and wrote feverishly in his spare time. In 1914 he divorced Cornelia and married Tennessee Mitchell. In that same year, his first novel, Windy McPherson's Son, was published. Marching Men, his second novel, was published in 1917 and his collection of tales in Winesburg, Ohio, (begun in 1915) was published in 1919.

      On a roll, Anderson's Poor White was published in 1920, The Triumph of the Egg in 1921, Horses and Men in 1923, and A Story Teller's Story in 1924. He personally helped Hemingway and Faulkner publish their first books, although they would later turn on him.

      Anderson separated from Mitchell in 1922 and in 1924 he married Elizabeth Prall. The novel Many Marriages was published in 1923 and Dark Laughter in 1925.

     After his marriage to Prall failed, Anderson married Eleanor Copenhaver, and together they studied the social and economic conditions in America in their many travels across the nation. He published their findings through the Marion Publishing Company, which he had bought in 1927. Death in the Woods, Other Stories of 1933, Puzzled America, and Kit Brandon were a few of his publications through Marion.

      He died in 1941.

From Winesburg, Ohio:

"It was his notion that the moment one of the people took one of the truths to himself, called it his truth, and tried to live his life by it, he became a grotesque and the truth he embraced became a falsehood."

"The idea is very simple, so simple that if you are not careful you will forget it. It is this--that everyone in the world is Christ and they are all crucified."
" Before him in the moonlight the tiny stream ran down over stones, and he began to think of the men of old times . . ."
"The beauty of the country about Winesburg was too much . . . Of a sudden he forgot all about being a quiet old farm hand and throwing off the torn overcoat began to run across the field. As he ran he shouted a protest against his life, against all life, against everything that makes life ugly."

Anderson, Sherwood. Winesburg, Ohio. New York: Dover. 1995.


Photo courtesy Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division,
Carl Van Vechten Collection