Anderson, Sherwood

Anderson, Sherwood

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).

Margaret Caroline Anderson (November 24, 1886 - October 18, 1973) was founder and editor of the celebrated literary magazine The Little Review, which published an extraordinary collection of modern American, English and Irish writers between 1914 and 1929.

Early life

Anderson was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, the eldest of three daughters of Arthur Aubrey Anderson and Jessie (Shortridge) Anderson. She graduated from high school in Anderson, Indiana in 1903, and then entered a two-year junior preparatory class at Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio.

She left Western in 1906, at the end of her freshman year, to pursue a career as a pianist. In the fall of 1908 she left home for Chicago, where she reviewed books for a religious weekly (The Continent) before joining The Dial. By 1913 she was a book critic for the Chicago Evening Post.

Writing career

In March 1914 she founded The Little Review during Chicago’s literary renaissance. "An organ of two interests, art and good talk about art," the monthly's first issue featured articles on Nietzsche, feminism and psychoanalysis. Early funding was intermittent, and for six months in 1914, she was forced out of her Chicago residence at 837 West Ainslie Street, and the magazine's offices at Chicago Fine Arts Building at 410 S. Michigan Avenue, and camped with family and staff members on the shores of Lake Michigan.

In 1916, Anderson met Jane Heap (1883-1964), a spirited intellectual and artist immersed in the Chicago Arts and Crafts Movement, and a former lesbian lover to novelist Djuna Barnes. The two became lovers, and Anderson convinced her to become co-editor of the Little Review. Heap maintained a low profile, signing her contributions simply "jh," but she had a major impact on the success of the journal through its bold and radical content.

In 1917 Anderson and Heap moved The Little Review to New York, and with the help of critic Ezra Pound, who acted as her foreign editor in London, The Little Review published some of the most influential new writers in the English language, including Hart Crane, T. S. Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Pound himself, and William Butler Yeats. Other notable contributors included Sherwood Anderson, Andre Breton, Jean Cocteau, Malcolm Cowley, Marcel Duchamp, Ford Madox Ford, Emma Goldman, Vachel Lindsay, Amy Lowell, Francis Picabia, Carl Sandburg, Gertrude Stein, Wallace Stevens, Arthur Waley, and William Carlos Williams. Even so, however, she once issued 64 blank pages between covers to protest the temporary lack of exciting new works.

In 1918, as Anderson began serializing James Joyce's Ulysses, the U.S. Post Office seized and burned four issues of the magazine and convicted Anderson and her companion and associate editor, Jane Heap, on obscenity charges. Each was fined $50. In 1923 Anderson moved to Le Cannet (on the French Riviera) to live with the French singer Georgette Leblanc, and the final issue of The Little Review was edited at Hotel St. Germain-Des-Pres, 36 rue Bonaparte, Paris.

Anderson published a three-volume autobiography: My Thirty Years' War, The Fiery Fountains, and The Strange Necessity. In her last years in Le Cannet, she wrote her final book, part novel and part memoir, Forbidden Fires.


The teachings of George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff played an important role in Anderson's life. Anderson met Gurdjieff in Paris and along with Leblanc began studies with him, focusing on his original teaching called The Fourth Way. From 1935 to 1939, Anderson and Leblanc studied with Gurdjieff as part of a group of women known as The Rope. Anderson studied with Gurdjieff until his death in October 1949, writing about him and his teachings in most of her books, most extensively in her memoir The Unknowable Gurdjieff.

Late life

By 1942 her relationship with Heap had cooled, and, evacuating from the war in France, Anderson sailed for the United States. With her passage paid by Ernest Hemingway, Anderson met on the voyage Dorothy Caruso, widow of the singer and famous tenor Enrico Caruso. The two began a romantic relationship, and lived together until Caruso's death in 1955. Anderson returned to Le Cannet after Caruso's death, and there she died of emphysema on October 18, 1973. She is buried beside Georgette Leblanc in the Notre Dame des Agnes Cemetery.

Selected works

  • 1930 My Thirty Years' War, memoir, ISBN 0-8180-0210-7
  • 1951 The Fiery Fountains, memoir, ISBN 0-8180-0211-5
  • 1962 The Strange Necessity, memoir
  • 1962 The Unknowable Gurdjieff, memoir, dedicated to Jane Heap. 1962, Arkana. ISBN 0140191399.
  • 1996 Forbidden Fires, part memoir, part novel, published through the efforts of Mathilda Hills.


  • Baggett, Holly A. (ed.) (2000), Dear Tiny Heart: The Letters of Jane Heap and Florence Reynolds, New York University Press

External links

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