Authors, Writers, Playwright and Journalist Graves

Mark Twain. Author, Humorist. He is remembered not only for authoring many books but also for his humorist maxims, quotations and opinions. Similar to many authors of his day, he had little formal education. His family moved from his birthplace Florida, Missouri to nearby Hannibal on the Mississippi where he grew up experiencing life on the waterfront. His came from the print shops and newspaper offices where he worked as a youth, and became a licensed Mississippi riverboat pilot navigating the river for some five years. Roaming the west, with an unsuccessful attempt at gold and silver mining, he became a newspaper man in Virginia City, Nevada acquiring the pen name Mark Twain (a riverboat term). His first popular story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” appeared and while traveling as a correspondent in Europe, he authored a book, “The Innocents Abroad” which cast him into the role of a noted author. Married, he settled in Hartford, Connecticut becoming most productive as a writer penning seven major books. His most memorable were stories about the Mississippi based on his experiences, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”. Samuel Clemens troubled by bad investments, the loss of most of his family by death, spent his final days in deep depression. A heavy smoker all his life, with his health failing, he sought the warmer climate of Bermuda. His condition improved and he returned to his principal residence in Hartford, but soon became bedridden and sunk into a deep coma. Angina Pectoris took his life during the night. Because of his years of presence in New York City, it was decided his funeral would be held at the Presbyterian Brick Church. His body was transported to Elmira, New York, hometown of his wife and where the family maintained a summer home. He was buried next to his wife and children who preceded him in death in historic Woodlawn Cemetery.

Ernest Hemingway. Author. He was born at Oak Park, Illinois, grew-up in the Chicago suburbs while spending summers at the family’s waterfront home on Bear Lake. Ernest Hemingway was one of six children of a strict doctor, who gave him a passion for fishing and hunting, and a music teacher mother who cultivated a cultural knowledge of music and literature. He spoke often of his ideal, happy childhood. After his high school graduation, he began his writing career as a reporter followed by a dangerous lifestyle which bordered on the hair raising. At nineteen, he was almost killed by shrapnel while driving an ambulance in Italy. A wild-game safari in Africa saw him surviving two plane crashes in the African jungle, and during the Spanish Civil War, he joined the Republic forces as an ambulance driver surviving many close calls. His adventurous life provided him with material for many of his novels: “A Farewell to Arms,” “Death in the Afternoon,” “The Green Hills of Africa” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” deemed to be his greatest novel. Hemingway is also the author of a remarkable collection of short stories. His book, “The Old Man and the Sea” became a motion picture. The plane crashes, drinking, hard work and play finally took its toll. He settled in Ketchum, Idaho, his favorite hunting area, already suffering from severe depression because of health issues, finances and even the fear of losing his home in Cuba now controlled by the Castro regime. His worries here were groundless, as the Cuban government has preserved everything from his residence and even his fishing boat while constructing a memorial in Cojimar. The Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winner followed in his father’s suicide footsteps imitating him by taking his own life after attending a dinner at a Ketchum restaurant at the age of sixty one. His funeral was a scaled down Catholic service because of his many marriages. His body was transported from the funeral home in nearby Hailey to a small waiting group of his immediate family and about fifty invited friends at the Ketchum Cemetery. Father Robert J. Waldmann, the local priest conducted a brief graveside committal service and the prolific writer was interred. His legacy is probably the best preserved of all American authors. His homes in Key West, Florida, Cojimar, Cuba and Ketchum, Idaho have been saved becoming popular tourist destinations. 

Robert Frost. Poet, Author. Born in San Francisco, California, his family moved to Massachusetts after the death of his father. He attended Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, but stayed for less than one term. He returned to Massachusetts and taught school, worked in a factory, and was a journalist. His first poem, “Butterfly: An Elegy” was published in 1894. He entered Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1897, and stayed just short of two years. He became a farmer and wrote much of his early work during this time. Unsuccessful at farming, he turned to teaching again and published two of his most accomplished early poems, “The Tuft of Flowers” and “The Trial by Existence” in 1906. He moved his family to England in 1912, and published “A Boy’s Will” in 1913. Returning to the United States in 1915, he published “North of Boston”, which was lauded by editors and critics in New York City, New York and Boston, Massachusetts. Robert Frost went on to to be awarded four Pulitzer Prizes: 1924 for “New Hampshire”, 1931 for” Collected Poems”, 1937 for “A Further Range”, and in 1943 for “A Witness Tree”. His last reading before a large audience was in December of 1962. He was hospitalized the next day for a prostate operation, and suffered a heart attack while convalescing. After a series of embolisms, he died in January 1963. In the modern day, his best-known works are “Mending Wall”, “The Road Not Taken”, and “Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening”.

Edgar Allan Poe. Author, Poet. Most remembered for his influence on other writers and poets through his imaginative use of literary style and for his near flawless use of rhythm and sound in his poetry. He is considered the father of the modern detective story and the psychological thriller. Born in Boston, the son of touring actors David Poe Jr. and Elizabeth Arnold Poe. When he was three years old, his parents died, and he was taken into the home of John Allan, a wealthy merchant in Richmond, Virginia, who renamed him Edgar Allan Poe. In 1826 he entered the University of Virginia, staying only one year, and running up large gambling debts that John Allan refused to pay. Allan pulled him from college and broke up his engagement to Elmira Royster. Lacking means of support, Poe enlisted in the Army, but had his first book, “Tamerlane and Other Poems”, published at his expense, and was able to pay off his debts. Reconciled with Allan, his adoptive father paid for his release from the Army and secured an appointment to West Point for Poe (USMA Class of 1834), but he dropped out after six months. His fellow cadets paid for a publishing of his book, “Poems” (1831), which contained his famous poem “To Helen.” Taking up residence with his aunt, Maria Clemm, in Baltimore, he supported himself with writing stories, which he sold to the Philadelphia Saturday Courier and other newspapers. In 1835, he married his cousin, Virginia Clemm, who was 13 years old, and moved to Richmond, where he became the editor of the Southern Literary Messenger. He was highly praised for his reviews of contemporary writers, but this also brought him criticism from those offended, who complained to the magazine’s owners. In January 1837, the owners fired him as editor, but continued to publish his poems and stories. He moved to New York City, then to Philadelphia and back to New York, each time looking to establish himself in the literary world, but with only moderate success. In January 1847, Virginia died, and he became a heavy drinker. In 1849, he revisited Richmond, and was able to become engaged to his first love, Elmira Royster. Returning to Baltimore, he was found unconscious on a Baltimore street, and died “of congestion of the brain” according to the local newspapers. Popular lore states that he died of alcoholism, however, some claim that he died from exposure or from encephalitis. In 1875, a group of local school children donated a grave stone for him. In 1949, he was honored on a 3 cent US postage stamp.

Ingalls Family Graves in De Smet, South Dakota

Charles Phillip Ingalls. Literary Figure. His daughter Laura Ingalls Wilder immortalized him and the rest of her family in the popular ‘Little House’ series of books. Born the fourth of eleven children in Cuba, New York, when he was 12 his family moved to Illinois, and then to Wisconsin. He married Caroline Lake Quiner in February of 1860 and with her, headed west in what would become a long string of moves which indulged his wanderlust, his dislike of large towns, and the prevailing job opportunities. The young family moved from Wisconsin, to Kansas, back to Wisconsin, to Minnesota, to Iowa, back to Minnesota, and finally to Dakota Territory in 1879 where, among other occupations, he was appointed Justice of the Peace of De Smet. The Ingalls’ had five children; Mary, Laura, Carrie, Charles Frederick, and Grace. Ingalls died in his home at the age of 66 after an illness of several weeks led to heart failure.

Caroline Lake Quiner Ingalls. Folk and literary figure. Born the fifth of seven children of Henry and Charlotte Tucker Quiner in Brookfield, Wisconsin. At sixteen, she started as a teacher, but married Charles Ingalls in February of 1860 effectively ending her career. She followed her husband through numerous moves and settled in more than half a dozen homes before she extracted a promise from her husband that their next move would be their last. The family settled in Dakota Territory on Silver Lake outside what would become the town of De Smet, South Dakota. She and her husband had five children Mary, Laura, Carrie, Charles Frederick, and Grace. It was daughter Laura who immortalized her family in the popular ‘Little House’ series of books. She died unexpectedly at her home after a short illness at age 84.

Mary Amelia Ingalls. Literary Figure. Born the eldest child of Charles and Caroline Ingalls in Pepin County, Wisconsin on her father’s birthday. At the age of 14 she fell ill with what was then described as brain fever. Although she recovered, the illness robbed her of her sight. In 1881, Mary enrolled in the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School in Vinton, Iowa. Mary’s academic achievements were considered exceptionally high, in addition to academic subjects she excelled in music sewing, beadwork, knitting, hammock and fly net tying. Mary graduated in June 1889, one of eight in her graduating class. After graduation she returned to De Smet where she lived with her parents. After her father’s death, she made fly nets in order to supplement the family income. She was active in the church, and taught Sunday school classes. With the death of her mother in 1924, Mary moved in with her sister, Grace, before settling in with her sister Carrie, at Keystone, South Dakota. She never married. At the age of 63, she succumbed to pneumonia, and was interred in the family plot at De Smet. Her sister, Laura, would later immortalize the family in the popular ‘Little House’ series of books.

Caroline Celestia “Carrie” Ingalls Swanzey. Folk and literary figure. Born in Montgomery County, Kansas. the third child of Charles and Caroline Ingalls, she was known throughout her life as Carrie. After finishing school, she became a typesetter for the De Smet News, then The Keystone Recorder and The Hill City Star. Like her father, she was afflicted with a wanderlust that led her to visit Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Missouri before settling briefly in Boulder, Colorado. Though unusual for a single woman, she then filed on a homestead claim in Top Bar, South Dakota. She met and married mine owner David N. Swanzey, a widower with two children in 1912. Her husband was one of the committee that recommended Mount Rushmore to sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, her stepson would be one of the many excavators on the project. She was an enthusiastic supporter of her sister, Laura’s efforts to write her ‘Little House’ series of books, and helped by sharing memories of their childhood. She died in Pennington County, South Dakota at the age of 75, and was interred in the family plot in De Smet.

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder. Pioneer, Author. Born Laura Elizabeth Ingalls in Pepin, Wisconsin, the second daughter of Charles and Caroline Quiner Ingalls. The Ingalls family traveled by covered wagon to short residences in Iowa, Minnesota, and Kansas, before settling in DeSmet, South Dakota, one of two families who founded the town. To help her sister, Mary , receive an education at a college for the blind, Laura obtained her teaching certificate at age 15. In 1885, Laura married Almanzo James Wilder in DeSmet, and their daughter, Rose, was born the following year. In 1894, the young family relocated to Mansfield in the Missouri Ozark Mountains, where Laura and Almanzo built the prosperous Rocky Ridge Farm. During World War I, Laura became a columnist for The Missouri Ruralist , with the popular and thoughtful weekly, “As A Farm Wife Thinks”. In 1932, she began writing the “Little House” books, an 8-part series, hand-written over 11 years, and delightfully illustrated by Garth Williams, based on her pioneer childhood and youth. In her books, Laura stressed the importance of family, faith, simple values, and self-sufficiency. The books have remained enduringly popular, continuing to be published and read worldwide today. After 63 years of marriage, Almanzo died in 1949, Laura continued to live at Rocky Ridge Farm until her passing in 1957, at the age of 90. In 1954, Garth Williams designed the bronze Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal for presentation to Laura as the first recipient. The medal, administered by the Association for Library Service to Children, is an annual award presented to “an author or illustrator whose books, written in the United States, have made, over the years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.” There are museums across the United States at the sites where the Ingalls and Wilder families lived, including the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum at Rocky Ridge Farm, where the home that Laura and Almanzo built by hand has been preserved just as when the Wilders’ were in residence. Laura and Almanzo’s daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, became a noted novelist and political writer.

Rose Wilder Lane. Author. Known for her short stories, novels, and political essays during the early twentieth century. Daughter of author Laura Ingalls Wilder.

L.M. Montgomery. Author. Born the only daughter of Hugh John Montgomery and Clara Woolner McNeill at Clifton, Prince Edward Island, Canada, she was known to her family as Maud. After the early death of her mother, she was sent to live with her maternal grandparents Alexander and Lucy McNeill who maintained the Post Office for the town of Cavendish on Prince Edward Island. She attended the Cavendish Schoolhouse and proved an exemplary student. Her earliest writing included hymns, poems, and sketches of her imaginary friends and her pets. Her fist publication came when she was 15, the Saskatchewan newspaper the Patriot, printed one of her poems. In 1893 she earned a teacher’s certificate from Prince of Wales College in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and started teaching at the Number 6 one-room school in Bideford. She continued to take teaching positions even as she continued to write. She retired from teaching after five years in order to care for her widowed grandmother. Her first, and possibly most famous novel, Anne of Green Gables, was published in 1908. In 1911 she married the Reverend Ewan Macdonald and moved to Ontario where he had been assigned minister of St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, Leaskdale. The couple would have three sons. Montgomery initially resisted the idea of a sequel to Anne of Green Gables but ultimately, between 1909 and 1939, she wrote a series of five more books about the orphan: Anne of Avonlea; Anne of the Island; Anne of Windy Poplars; Anne’s House of Dreams; and Anne of Ingleside. In 1923 she became the first Canadian woman to join the Royal Society of Arts in Britain. In 1935 she became a member of the Literary and Artistic Institute of France and was awarded Officer of the Order of the British Empire. She died of congestive heart failure in Toronto at the age of 67. Her body lay in state at her girlhood home; the inspiration for Green Gables, which had become part of the Prince Edward Island Provincial Park, established in 1937. In 1943 Canada declared Montgomery a person of national historic significance. 

Katharine Lee Bates. Poetess, Author, Educator. The author of the lyrics to “America the Beautiful”. She was an esteemed academic and writer of stories, articles, poems as well as even children’s plays and verses. “America the Beautiful” first appeared In print in “The Congregationalist,” a weekly journal, on July 4, 1895. It is considered by some to be America’s unofficial second national anthem and those four stanzas, hastily scribbled into a notebook on a trip to the Western Plains in 1893, would attain great fame. At the apex of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, Colorado, she was so moved by the beauty that was her country, that she wrote what later became “America the Beautiful.” While lecturing at the summer session at Colorado College, sahe joined an expedition to the summit of Pikes Peak In a prairie wagon. She wrote, “It was then and there, as I was looking out over the sea-like expanse…” and found her ultimate inspiration. After some revision, the new version was published in “The Boston Evening Transcript” on November 19, 1904. Much criticism of the lyric poem centered on her use of the word “beautiful,” which some called hackneyed, but she refused to change that word, for she claimed it best described America. Following the 1904 publication, part of the third stanza was altered, thereafter, the poem stayed the same and Bates retained the copyright, protecting it from misprints and further changes. The only payment she ever received for her efforts was a small check from “The Congregationalist” when the poem was first published. In 1926, the National Federation of Music Clubs held a contest to put the poem to music, but none of the entries were judged to be adequate. The poem has been sung to a variety of music, and she never chose a preferred tune. Today, the song sung to Samuel A. Ward’s “Materna”. Also in 1926, a strong push was made to adopt the hymn as the national anthem. The “Star-Spangled Banner” won instead on March 3, 1931, President Herbert Hoover signed a bill proclaiming it the official National Anthem.

Walt Whitman. Poet. Considered one of America’s foremost men of letters, he was born on Long Island, New York. His mother was barely literate, and his father was a friend of Revolutionary War patriot Thomas Paine. Walt Whitman was taken out of school at the age of 11 to help support the large family, and he learned the printer’s trade, which began a life-long love affair with reading and the written word. He was mostly self-taught, but knew the Bible thoroughly, and was fond of the works of William Shakespeare, Homer and Dante Alighieri. He became a teacher in 1836 at the age of 17, and continued to teach until 1841, when he turned to journalism as a full-time career. While briefly serving as editor of the “New Orleans Crescent” in 1848, he witnessed the cruelty of slavery at the New Orleans, Louisiana slave markets. He became an abolitionist, and upon returning to New York founded the free-soil newspaper the “Brooklyn Freeman”. He wrote “Leaves of Grass” in July of 1855 and so astonished Ralph Waldo Emerson that he wrote to Whitman to say “I had to rub my eyes to see if the sunbeam was no illusion.” Two of Whitman’s more famous poems are “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed” and “O Captain! My Captain!”. During the Civil War he served as a volunteer nurse. Whitman continued to edit, revise, and reissue “Leaves of Grass” throughout his life.

Ralph Waldo Emerson. Author, Poet. His family was a repository where the Unitarians obtained their ministers. Most of his forefathers and even his own father and finally he became a Clergyman. However, the death of his first wife soon after their marriage soured his faith and he resigned emerging as the leader of the Transcendental movement. (stressed a life style of a personal nature over rational or dogmatic-It favored trusting one’s instincts over the guidance of authority} This philosophy was the basis of his writings, essays and poems. Emerson started and edited “The Dial,” a Transcendental journal. Ralph Waldo Emerson lectured often and his subjects and messages resulted in publication of “Essays” and finally the most famous, “Self Reliance.” He was productive for forty years, publishing his thoughts and philosophy in the forms of Essays, journals and poems and sayings. 

Henry David Thoreau. Author. A transcendental believer, he lived his theory of civil disobedience. He was born in the city of Concord, Massachusetts. His brother, an ornithologist, had a great influence on his life. Thoreau developed an interest in nature, spending much of his youth exploring the region’s ponds and woods. His formal education started at the Concord Academy and then went on at Harvard College. Upon graduation returned to Concord and taught school. A lifelong friendship and association with Ralph Waldo Emerson began with introductions to other writers: Bronson Alcott, Ellery Channing, Margaret Fuller and Nathaniel Hawthorn. Emerson invited Thoreau to live at his residence with his family then offered him the use of his woodlot at Walden Pond. He constructed a one room house. He studied natural history, gardened, wrote in his journal, read, and drafted his first book, “A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers.” The highlight of his second year was a day in prison for refusal to pay a poll tax and led to the writing of “Resistance to Civil Government.”

Nathaniel Hawthorne. Renowned Author. He was a descendent of prominent early New England settlers. His most famous work was “The Scarlet Letter,” published in 1850. His other novels were, “Fanshawe,” “The House of the Seven Gables,” “The Blithedale Romance,” and “The Marble Faun.” His short stories were, “Twice-Told Tales,” “Mosses From An Old Manse,” and “Tanglewood Tales.”

E. E. Cummings. Poet and writer. Born Edward Estlin Cummings in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he began writing poetry at age ten, and continued while studying at Cambridge Latin High School. He attended Harvard College, where his father was a professor, and received a BA Degree in 1915 and his MA Degree the following year. His studies provided him access to such writers as Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound, whose influence could be seen in his later writings. He published his first book of poetry in 1917, in the anthology “Eight Harvard Poets.” After a short stint working for a mail order publishing company, in 1917 he volunteered for ambulance duty with the Norton-Harjes Ambulance Company in France during World War I. Because of his outspoken antiwar attitude, he was detained by French authorities on the suspicion of being a spy; after three months, he was cleared of espionage charges and freed. His experience in a French prison was described in his subsequent novel “The Enormous Room” (1922); it would be the first of his literary attacks on the evils of excessive government authority. His later book, “Eimi” (1933), would focus on the excesses of Soviet communism. At the end of World War I, Cummings traveled to Paris, where he studied art. Upon his return to the United States in 1924, he discovered he was something of a celebrity, for both his books, “The Enormous Room” and “Tulips and Chimneys” (1923), were widely read. Over the remainder of his life, he alternated among his house in rural New Hampshire, Greenwich Village and Paris, France, where he would meet with fellow poets, writers and artists. In his early years of writing, he experimented with different forms of writing poetry, changing punctuation, spelling and syntax, while discarding the traditional means of writing poetry and creating his own style of poetic -expression. This gained him great popularity with the reading public, especially for his simplicity and playfulness in the word form. In 1926, a job with Vanity Fair magazine gave him the means to travel and allowed him the freedom to pursue his avocation of painting in the afternoons and writing at night. His third marriage to photographer Marion Morehouse was considered his happiest, and he would often collaborate with her in books, of which “Adventures in Value” (1962), is considered their best work together. He received many awards during his lifetime, including being a Fellow in the Academy of American Poets, two Guggenheim Fellowships, the Bollingen Prize in Poetry and the Charles Eliot Norton Professorship at his alma mater, Harvard. At the time of his death in 1962, he was the second most widely read American poet, after Robert Frost.

F. Scott Fitzgerald. Author. One of the most celebrated of American writers, famed for his evocative stories of the 1920s. He is usually credited with coining the term “The Jazz Age” to describe that era, which he defined as “a new generation grown up to find all Gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man shaken”. The implications of this simmer beneath the alluring surfaces of his fiction, where hedonistic youth and the idle rich party relentlessly to escape the moral and spiritual emptiness of their lives. And it found its most eloquent expression in “The Great Gatsby” (1925), frequently cited as among the finest novels of 20th Century literature. Fitzgerald was both a flamboyant participant and a detached observer of the high life he wrote about, giving his work its unique perspective. Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, a namesake and distant cousin of the author of “The Star-Spangled Banner”. He studied at Princeton without earning a degree, and served in the US Army during World War I but was not sent overseas. He spent much of this time working on his first novel, “This Side of Paradise” (1920), which made him immediately famous. That same year he married Zelda Sayre, the daughter of a prominent Alabama judge; their daughter Frances Scott, nicknamed “Scottie”, was born in 1921. Fitzgerald solidified his reputation with his second novel, “The Beautiful and Damned” (1922), and the short story collections “Flappers and Philosophers” (1920) and “Tales of the Jazz Age” (1922), in which he chronicled the mood and manners of the time. Although he preferred writing novels, stories provided his main source of income and he produced over 150 tales for such fashionable magazines as The Saturday Evening Post, Vanity Fair, and The Smart Set. Some have survived as classics, including “Bernice Bobs Her Hair”, “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz”, “The Rich Boy”, “Benediction”, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, and “Babylon Revisited”. Following the failure of his play “The Vegetable” (1923), Fitzgerald made a conscious effort to do his best with “The Great Gatsby”. The title character, the mysterious Jay Gatsby, has amassed a fortune through bootlegging and throws spectacular parties at his Long Island estate in hopes of winning the love of Daisy Buchanan, a scion of old money with whom he’d had an affair before the war. The book’s various plot strands are observed at a distance by the narrator, Nick Carraway (a Midwesterner like Fitzgerald), and as he recounts the events which lead to Gatsby’s tragic end, wealthy society is exposed in all its shallowness and false glamor. “The Great Gatsby” was not what Fitzgerald fans were expecting from him. T.S. Eliot hailed it as “The first step American fiction has taken since Henry James”, but its otherwise disappointing reviews and sales were a serious blow to the author’s aspirations. After the publication of the story collection “All the Sad Young Men” (1926), another Fitzgerald book would not appear for eight years, a period which saw the gradual decline of his personal and professional life. From the start of their marriage Fitzgerald and Zelda had plunged into a frenetic life of lavish spending and hellraising, cutting a swath through New York, Long Island, Washington, D.C., and the French Riviera, spurred on by their celebrity and view of themselves as “Jazz Age” representatives. But by the close of the 1920s Fitzgerald’s severe alcoholism and Zelda’s increasingly erratic behavior brought the party to an end. In 1930 Zelda was diagnosed as schizophrenic and after 1932 she would spend the rest of her life in East Coast sanitariums. The traumatic dissolution of their relationship is reflected in Fitzgerald’s most ambitious novel, “Tender Is the Night” (1934), about a psychiatrist’s destructive marriage to one of his patients, set among bored, wealthy expatriates in postwar Europe. It was poorly received in Depression-era America, as was the volume of stories “Taps at Reveille” (1935), triggering an emotional breakdown Fitzgerald candidly described in his long essay “The Crack-Up” (1936). Deeply in debt, he went to Hollywood in 1937 to work as a screenwriter, though not very successfully. (He received only one screen credit, for the 1938 MGM film “Three Comrades”, and was among the legion of scribes who tinkered with the script for “Gone With the Wind”). His last series of stories centered on the misadventures of a drunken has-been screenwriter named Pat Hobby, which are viewed as a mocking caricature of the author himself on the loose in the Tinseltown he loathed. He found some fleeting happiness with his lover, gossip columnist Sheilah Graham, and managed to stay sober in his final year, though this came too late to restore his failing health. When Fitzgerald died of a heart attack (his second) at the age of 44, he was written off as a relic of the Roaring Twenties who had squandered his early promise on personal excess. He left behind a 40,000-word draft of a Hollywood novel that was published as “The Last Tycoon” (1941); even in its unfinished state it showed that his creative powers had not diminished, and some present day critics rate it higher than “Gatsby”. Thanks in part to the efforts of his friend Edmund Wilson, who edited “The Last Tycoon” and lobbied to get his remaindered works back into print, Fitzgerald’s posthumous fame virtually exploded after World War II. The first major biography, Arthur Mizener’s “The Far Side of Paradise” (1951), was followed by Sheilah Graham’s bestselling memoir “Beloved Infidel” (1958), which in turn became a 1959 Hollywood movie (with Gregory Peck playing Fitzgerald). His writings have long since won him the acclaim he had yearned for when he was alive.

Washington Irving. Author. A short story writer, essayist, poet, travel book writer, biographer, attorney, and columnist, he was born in New York City as the youngest of 11 children. He has been called the “Father of the American Short Story”, and is best known for works ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,’ in which the schoolmaster Ichabod Crane meets with a headless horseman, and ‘Rip Van Winkle,’ about a man who falls asleep for 20 years. He wrote under the pseudonyms Dietrich Knickerbocker, Jonathan Oldstyle, and Geoffrey Crayon. From 1836 to 1842 Irving lived at Sunnyside manor house, Tarrytown, New York, where he died. In the 1990s the village of North Tarrytown was renamed Sleepy Hollow.

Anne Sexton. Confessional Poet. She is best known for her highly personal, confessional verse. She won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1967 for her book “Live or Die.” Her poetry goes into detail about her long battles with depression, suicidal tendencies, and intimate details from her private life, including relationships with her husband and children. She suffered from severe bipolar disorder with her first manic episode taking place in 1954. After a second episode in 1955, she met Dr. Martin Orne who became her long-term therapist. It was Dr. Orne who encouraged her to write poetry. She had anxiety about registering for the first workshop and asked a friend to make the phone call and accompany her to the first session. She found early approval with her poetry with some of her work being accepted by The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine and the Saturday Review. She later studied at Boston University alongside poets Sylvia Plath and George Starbuck. She later paid tribute to her friendship with Plath in the 1966 poem “Sylvia’s Death.” Her first volume of poetry, “To Bedlam and Part Way Back,” was published in 1960. In the late 1960s, the manic elements of her illness began to affect her career but she still wrote, published work and gave readings of her poetry. She collaborated with musicians, forming a jazz-rock group called Her Kind that added music to her poetry. Her play “Mercy Street” starring Marian Seldes was produced in 1969 after several years of revisions. She also collaborated with the artist Barbara Swan, who illustrated several of her books. On October 4, 1974, Sexton had lunch with her long-time friend Maxine Kumin to revise galleys for Sexton’s manuscript of “The Awful Rowing Toward God” scheduled for publication in March 1975. On returning home she put on her mother’s old fur coat, removed all her rings, poured herself a glass of vodka, locked herself in her garage, and started the engine of her car, ending her life by carbon monoxide poisoning. In an interview over a year before her death, she explained she had written the first drafts of “The Awful Rowing Toward God” in 20 days with “two days out for despair and three days out in a mental hospital.” She went on to say that she would not allow the poems to be published before her death.

Louisa May Alcott. Author. She is best known as the author of the novel “Little Women”, which was published in 1869. Born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, she grew up in Boston and Concord, Massachusetts, where her father, A. Bronson Alcott, was a noted educator and leader of a philosophical movement called transcendentalism. Her family friends and neighbors included the writers Ralph Waldo EmersonNathaniel HawthorneOliver Wendell Holmes, and Henry David Thoreau, and these figures helped her to form her ideas about politics and social reform. When she was young, she began work to help support the family as a seamstress, a household servant, and later, as a teacher. Her first book, “Flower Fables” (1854), was a series of fairy stories that she would make up to tell children. During the Civil War, she served as a nurse for the Union Army in 1862 to 1863, and would use that experience for her first successful book, “Hospital Sketches” (1863). Her first novel, “Moods” was published the next year, and in 1868, she became editor of “Merry’s Museum,” a magazine for young girls. She then used her life experiences to write “Little Women” which was initially published in two parts, in 1868 and 1869, which provided her with financial security. In this book, her family was represented by the ‘March family’, and the character of ‘Jo March’ representing her. She would continue the story of the March family in later books, “Little Men” (1871) and “Jo’s Boys” (1886).

Francis Scott Key. Lawyer, poet who penned the national anthem of the United States of America. Born at Terra Rubra, his family’s 1,865 acre plantation in Frederick County just north of Keymar which today is in Carroll County, Maryland, the son of judge John Ross Key and his wife Anne Phebe Penn Dagworthy Charlton. He went to St. John’s School in Annapolis and then continued to study law with his uncle’s firm there. He considered the ministry more than once in his life and became a leader in the Sunday school movement. His published works include The Power of Literature and Its Connection with Religion (1834) and the posthumous collection Poems (1857). By 1805 he had his own well established practice in Georgetown, a town of 5,000, just a few miles from the Capitol. The tranquility usually found here had been broken by the British attack and capture of Washington where they had set fire to both the Capitol and the White House, the flames of which could be seen forty miles away in Baltimore. While at war with France they were trying to keep control of world shipping and had entered the Chesapeake Bay both to interrupt trade and to prepare for an assault on Baltimore. Learning that a much loved elderly physician of Upper Marlboro, Dr. William Beanes was hostage on the British flagship Tonnant, Key together with Col. John Skinner, an American agent for prisoner exchange, set sail on a sloop from Baltimore flying a flag of truce approved by President Madison. After much negotiation the release was arranged, but they had seen and heard too much of the preparations for the attack on Baltimore. They were forced to wait under guard behind the British fleet. It was from this position that after a long night of battle where they were assured by the ongoing shelling that Fort McHenry had not surrendered. Long before dawn there was a sudden and mysterious silence and waiting in the darkness that anxiety was finally broken when daylight came, the flag was still there! This led the amateur poet to write on the back of a letter in his pocket the lines that would become central to our national anthem. Later that same month the Baltimore Patriot published the completed verses under the title “Defence of Fort M’Henry” with the added note “Tune: Anacreon in Heaven.” A Baltimore actor sang the new song in a public performance the next month as “The Star-spangled Banner” and it became a popular patriotic song. In 1931 Congress enacted legislation that made this the official national anthem. He was appointed the United States District Attorney and appeared many times before the Supreme Court. Married in 1802 to Mary Tayloe Lloyd, they had six sons and five daughters and continued to live in Georgetown until around 1833. He died in Baltimore from pleurisy while visiting his daughter Elizabeth Howard and was first buried at Saint Paul’s Cemetery there in, but was removed to his family’s lot in Frederick in 1866. The Key Monument Association erected a memorial in 1898 and the remains of both Francis Scott Key and his wife were placed in a crypt in the base of the monument. There are cenotaphs at Fort McHenry, on Eutaw Street in Baltimore and at the Presidio in San Francisco, California. His collateral relative, F. Scott Fitzgerald was named for him.

Mary Murfree. Author. Tennessee’s foremost female writer of fiction. For 30 years she wrote under the male pen name of Charles Egbert Craddock. The subjects of her work included the people who live in the mountains of Tennessee, and the Civil War.

Bio by: kimshockey (reb)

Grave location found on Find A Grave Memorial 

Eugene Gladstone O’Neill. Playwright, Nobel Laureate in Literature. His plays were among the first to include speeches in the American vernacular and involve characters on the fringes of society, struggling to maintain their hopes and aspirations only to slip into disillusionment and despair. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1936 and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1920, 1922, 1928, and 1957. He was born in a hotel room in New York City, New York. His father was an Irish immigrant actor and he was sent to a Catholic boarding school where he became interested in reading as a means to escape his loneliness. After high school, he attended Princeton University but left after only one year. He then spent several years at sea, during which he suffered from depression and bouts with alcoholism. He contracted tuberculosis and in 1912 he was sent to a sanatorium for treatment. After his treatment was completed in 1913, he devoted himself to writing plays. His first published play, “Beyond the Horizon” opened on Broadway in 1920 to great acclaim and was awarded the Pulitzer prize for Drama. His first major hit was “The Emperor Jones” which also ran on Broadway in 1920. His best-known plays include “Anna Christie” (Pulitzer Prize 1922), “Desire Under the Elms” (1924), “Strange Interlude” (Pulitzer Prize 1928), “Mourning Becomes Electra” (1931), his only well-known comedy “Ah, Wilderness” (1933), “The Iceman Cometh’ (1940, first performed in 1946), Long Day’s Journey Into Night” (written 1941, published 1956, Pulitzer Prize 1957). He was married three times and had strained relationships with his children. He disowned his daughter, Oona, in 1943 for marrying the English actor, director, and producer Charlie Chaplain when she was 18 and he was 54. His son, Eugene Jr, was an alcoholic and committed suicide in 1950, and he disowned his other son, Shane, who became addicted to heroin and eventually committed suicide in 1977. Over the course of his life, he wrote 20 one-act plays, 32 full-length plays some of which were published posthumously. During the last 10 years of his life, he suffered from a severe Parkinsons-like tremor in his hands (later diagnosed as a late-onset cerebellar cortical atrophy), which made it impossible for him to write. He died in Boston, Massachusetts, at a Sheraton Hotel. His last words were reported to have been: “I knew it. I knew it. Born in a hotel room and died in a hotel room.” His long-time companion dog Blemie is buried at Tao House in Danville, California.

Tennessee Williams. Playwright, Author. He is best known for the plays “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof” and “The Glass Menagerie”. After years of obscurity, at age 33 he became suddenly famous with the success of The Glass Menagerie (1944) in New York City. This play closely reflected his own unhappy family background. It was the first of a string of successes, including A Streetcar Named Desire (1947), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955), Sweet Bird of Youth (1959), and The Night of the Iguana (1961). With his later work, he attempted a new style that did not appeal to audiences. His drama A Streetcar Named Desire is often numbered on short lists of the finest American plays of the 20th century alongside Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night and Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.

Much of Williams’ most acclaimed work has been adapted for the cinema. He also wrote short stories, poetry, essays and a volume of memoirs. In 1979, four years before his death, Williams was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame

Walter Cronkite. Television Broadcast Journalist. Born in St. Joseph, Missouri, he attended two years at the University of Texas from 1933 to 1935 before dropping out in his junior year to take a job as a full time reporter with the Houston Press in Texas. He began his broadcasting career working at several radio stations throughout the Midwestern United States prior to the outbreak of hostilities in Europe. During the Second World War he took a job as a reporter with United Press International covering the war in North Africa and Europe. He was present during the D-Day invasion of France and filed eyewitness reports from United States bombing missions over Germany. Following the surrender of Germany in May 1945 he remained in Europe as a United Press correspondent covering the Nuremberg Wartime Tribunals in Bavaria, Germany against suspected Nazi war criminals. In 1950 he joined the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) News Division, working at the CBS News affiliate in Washington, DC. During the early 1950s he covered the first televised presidential convention and served as host of the popular history reenactment series “You Are There.” In April 1962 he joined the CBS Evening News serving as managing editor and network news anchor for nearly twenty years before his retirement in March 1981. Known by millions of Americans affectionately as “Uncle Walter” he earned the distinction as one of America’s most trusted men for his honesty and objective professionalism in covering domestic and international news events. His notable reporting accomplishments during his nearly two decade career at CBS News include: Coverage of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Apollo 11 moon landing, the Vietnam War and the resignation of President Richard Nixon resulting from the Watergate political scandal. Following his retirement in 1981 he hosted the CBS science and space exploration series “Universe” and “Dinosaur” for the Public Broadcasting Corporation. He continued in the news industry appearing periodically as a news analyst and reporter for CBS, Cable News Network (CNN) and National Public Radio. His notable personal broadcasting awards and achievement include several national Emmy awards, two George Foster Peabody Awards, the George Polk Journalism Award, the Alfred I. duPonte-Columbia University Award, the Edward R. Murrow Lifetime Achievement in Broadcasting Award from Washington State University and the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award. He was also a member and past president of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and was the recipient of several honorary college degrees from Ohio State, Syracuse, Bucknell, American International College and Harvard University.

Irene Williams Smith. Journalist, Country Music Historian. She began her involvement with country music when she served as the booking agent for the “Drifting Cowboy Band,” which was lead by her younger brother Hank Williams. In the very early days, she sometimes served as the band’s back-up singer and ticket-taker. After Hank’s death, she wrote for the magazine Country Song Round-up from 1955 to 1961. Maintaining a vast collection of memorabilia about her brother, she opened a museum in his honor in Nashville for a brief time in the late 1980s. Shortly before her death, she sold much of her collection to singer Marty Stuart who presented it in a large exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame. 

Joseph Campbell. Mythologist, Author. He became fascinated with Native American culture as a child and this lead to a lifelong interest in mythology and religion, in particular the similar themes that were found across various cultures throughout history. A professor at Sarah Lawrence College for thirty-eight years he was the author of several books, including “The Hero With a Thousand Faces,” “Myths to Live By,” and a four-volume series entitled “The Masks of God.” In 1986 he completed the filming of a PBS series with Bill Moyers called The Power of Myth and later co-authored a book of the same title with Moyers. Campbell’s friend, film director George Lucas, is said to have based the Star Wars series on ideas gleaned from Campbell’s books.

Joseph Pulitzer. Journalist, Publisher, US Congressman. He is best known as the founder of the Pulitzer Prizes, the most prestigious awards in American journalism. Along with William Randolph Hearst, Pulitzer created a new and controversial style of American journalism, dedicated to crusading on the side of people and as a spokesman for democracy. Previously the press usually spoke for the establishment and moneyed interests, but this new strain of journalism supported labor, attacked trusts and monopolies, and exposed scandal, fraud and corruption, both public and private. At a time when journalism was not considered a respectable way of earning a living, Pulitzer was committed to raising the standards of the profession. Joseph Pulitzer was born in Mako, Hungary, the eldest son of a prosperous Jewish grain merchant. Pulitzer was educated in private schools in Budapest. After unsuccessful attempts to join the military, in 1864 he emigrated from Hungary to the United States, landing at Castle Garden practically penniless. The Austrian army had rejected him for his weak eyesight, and the French Foreign Legion did not want him, but when he got to America the Union Army was not so choosy. He served as a Private in Company I, 1st New York Volunteer “1st Lincoln” Cavalry from November 1864 until the end of the Civil War. After the war, he settled in St. Louis, where he worked as a mule tender, waiter and hack driver before studying English and law at the Mercantile Library. In 1868 he was recruited by Carl Schurz for his German-language daily, the “Westliche Post” where he excelled as a reporter. He participated in politics and was admitted to the bar, but he practiced only a short time. Pulitzer joined the Republican Party and was elected to the Missouri State Assembly in 1869. In 1872 Pulitzer was able to purchase the “St. Louis Post” for $3,000. This venture was a success and six years later was able to buy the “St. Louis Dispatch” for $2,700. He combined the two newspapers and launched crusades against government corruption, lotteries, gambling, and tax fraud. In 1874, he was admitted to the bar in Washington, D.C., where he also worked as a correspondent for the “New York Sun.” By 1883 Pulitzer was a wealthy man and was able to purchase the “New York World” for $346,000 from financier Jay Gould. The newspaper, which had been losing $40,000 a year, was transformed into the first tabloid-style journal that concentrated on human-interest stories, scandal and sensational material. Pulitzer also promised to use the paper to “expose all fraud and sham, fight all public evils and abuses, and to battle for the people with earnest sincerity.” In 1885 he was elected as a Republican to represent New York’s 9th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives, but he resigned a year later in 1886. Two years later he founded the “Evening World” in New York. At the age of forty, he had become essentially blind, but he still continued to run his press empire for twenty-two more years. In 1890s Pulitzer had a circulation war with William Randolph Hearst. Using strong headlines, sensational news events, cartoons and other means they especially tried to attract working class readers and immigrants. The “World” increased its circulation with a comic supplement and in 1895 the first full-page original ‘Yellow Kid’ cartoon in color appeared, created by the cartoonist R. F. Outcault. Pulitzer continued to promote investigative reporting and in 1909 the “New York World” exposed a fraudulent payment of $40 million by the United States to the French Panama Canal Company. The federal government indicted Pulitzer for criminally libeling President Theodore Roosevelt and the banker John Pierpont “J.P.” Morgan. However, Pulitzer won an important victory for the freedom of the press when the courts dismissed the indictments. Pulitzer died of heart failure aboard his yacht, the “Liberty,” on October 29, 1911. Through his will, he left $2 million to establish the Columbia University School of Journalism, and following the example of Alfred B. Nobel, he established a foundation to award annual Pulitzer Prizes for literature, drama, music, and journalism. Since 1922 Pulitzer Prizes have also been awarded for cartoonists.

Upton Sinclair. Author. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, he came from a privileged background, but his father was an alcoholic and had difficulty paying the bills. Sinclair was quoted as saying that the family went from rags to riches many times over, and his fortunes would continue to rise and fall throughout his life time. He turned to books as a means of escape from his unpredictable life and by the age of 15 was writing dime novels. These novels, ethnic jokes, and other hackwork paid for his tuition at New York City College. He eventually enrolled in Columbia University. During his time at Columbia he produced stories for several boy’s weeklies. They were typically about characters in the Military and had locales such as West Point or Annapolis. Sinclair would maintain a high rate of productivity throughout his lifetime producing nearly 100 books. Upon completing school, Sinclair devoted himself entirely to writing. He also became interested in Socialism and much of his work would take on that bent. An early success was the book “Manassas” about a young soldier in the Union Army who fought in the famous battle. Sinclair had entertained the idea of making the book the first of a trilogy but became sidetracked by another project called “The Jungle.” Exposing the dark underbelly of the meatpacking industry, such an outcry for reform attended it that it ultimately led to the passage of the Meat Inspection Act in 1906. The book was also infamous for what were seen as racist comments. Sinclair would go on to write several more novels along the same political theme including “Mammonart,” “King Coal,” “The Metropolis,” “Oil!,” “Boston, ” and “Jimmie Higgins.” His interest in socialism led him to become more active in politics. In 1934, he ran for governor of the state of California. His platform EPIC (End Poverty in California) spilt the state down party lines. He ultimately lost to Frank F. Merriam, but the race would introduce several new and modern campaign techniques include the use of Motion Picture Propaganda. Along with this detour into politics, Sinclair became interested in psychic phenomenon producing the book “Mental Radio.” The books that possibly garnered Sinclair the most praise was the Lanny Budd Series, a group of 11 books which feature the title character making his way through most of the political history of the Western World through out the first half of the 20th century. The 3rd book of this series, “Dragon’s Teeth,” would become the 1943 Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction. Sinclair spent most of his life in California and Arizona, but in the end he moved to Boundbrook, New Jersey where he died in 1968. Sinclair had one son with his first wife Meta Fuller. He was married three times.

Arunah Shepherdson Abell. Journalist, Newspaper Publisher. Born and raised in Rhode Island, he founded the “Baltimore Sun” newspaper as a penny paper in 1837. Throughout the 19th century, Baltimore, Maryland had a number of newspapers, many of them were overtly partisan, such as the pro-Republican “Baltimore American”. Arunah’s “Sun”, however, despite its origins as a penny paper, had, by the late 19th century developed into the newspaper of Baltimore’s upper class. By 1864, Arunah was sole proprietor of the “Sun” and had sold his share in the “Philadelphia Public Ledger”, another newspaper he had founded. In his efforts to get news as quickly as possible, he made use of pony express, coaches, trains, ships, and even carrier pigeons. He established a new pony express route from New Orleans, Louisiana in conjunction with the publishers of the “New Orleans Daily Picayune”, during the Mexican-American War. Using this advancement, learned of the American victory at Veracruz, Mexico before officials in Washington DC, and he was the one to send the news o President James K. Polk. In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the “Ledger” became the dominant newspaper for decades, but faded and ceased publication in 1942. In Baltimore, the “Sun” is still published seven days a week. Arunah died in Baltimore, Maryland at the age of 81.

Gore Vidal. Author, Screenwriter and Playwright. Born Eugene Luther Gore Vidal, he is known for writing the screenplays of acclaimed films, including “Suddenly, Last Summer” by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and Ben Hur by William Wyler. After the Second World War, he lived for a long time in Italy, where he also acted in films by Federico Fellini. The literary critics consider “The City and the Pillar” (1948) and “Myra Breckinridge” his most polemica novels against the social conformism. However, he has written and published numerous works, including “Williwaw”, “Burr”, “Live from Golgotha: The Gospel According to Gore Vidal”, and the essays, “Reflections Upon a Sinking Ship”, “The Second American Revolution”, “Decline and Fall of the American Empire” and “Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace or How We Came To Be So Hated”. Returning to the U.S. after the death of his dear friend Howard Auster, he lived at his home in Los Angeles, California, where he passed away due to pneumonia.

Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor. Journalist. He was the first full time editor of “National Geographic Magazine”, serving in that capacity from 1899 to 1954, and was President of the National Geographic Society from 1920 to 1954. He is considered the “Father of Modern Photojournalism”. His wife was Alexander Graham Bell’s Daughter.

Charles McDowell. Journalist. Writer of a nationally syndicated column for over 40 years, he will probably be better remembered as a regular panelist on the PBS series “Washington Week in Review”. Raised in Lexington, Virginia, from early childhood, he graduated from Washington and Lee University and received a master’s in journalism from Columbia University before joining the “Richmond Times Dispatch” in 1949. McDowell covered local stories until 1965 when he became his paper’s Washington correspondent; he began writing his popular column in 1954 and was to continue until his 1998 retirement, along the way introducing such fictional characters as Aunt Gertrude and Reliable Source who gave their take on the news of the day. His 18 year run on “Washington Week in Review” began in 1978, though he had been seen on earlier PBS features including “Summer of Judgment: The Watergate Hearings” for which he was both writer and host. McDowell took part in two of Ken Burns’ most noted series, serving as a commentator on both “The Civil War” and “Baseball”, and for “The Civil War” also providing the voice of Army of Tennessee Private Sam Watkins when reading clips from the soldier’s classic “Co. Aytch”. He published three books including “Campaign Fever”, a look at the 1964 election. McDowell died after being ill with dementia for about ten years.

Tim Russert. Journalist. Born in Buffalo, New York, he is best remembered for hosting NBC television’s “Meet the Press” from 1991 until his death. He concurrently served as political analyst for “NBC Nightly News” and the “Today” Program, and hosted the “Tim Russert” program interviewing prominent guests on MSNBC. Prior to those shows he was the the Washington Bureau Chief for NBC News. He frequently appeared on other NBC News programs and co-hosted the network’s presidential Election Night coverage. In 2005 he was awarded an Emmy for his role in the coverage of the funeral of President Ronald Reagan, and was the recipient of the Golden Plate Award of the Academy of Achievement. His Election 2000 “Meet the Press” interviews with Presidential candidates George W. Bush and Al Gore won the Radio and Television Correspondents’ highest honor, the Joan S. Barone Award and the Annenberg Center’s Walter Cronkite Award. In 2008 he named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. He died of a heart attack at the NBC News Bureau in Washington, DC.

Abigail Van Buren. American Advice Columnist and Radio Show Host. Born Pauline Friedman Phillips, she wrote the long-running ‘Dear Abby’ advice column under the name of Abigail Van Buren that was followed by millions of newspaper readers throughout the world. Her first column appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle on Jan. 9, 1956. She competed for decades with the advice column ‘Dear Ann’ written by her twin sister, Ann Landers. Aside from her column, she conducted a radio version of ‘Dear Abby’ from 1963 to 1975 and wrote best-selling books about her life and advice. Van Buren died after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Mary Welsh Hemingway. Literary Folk Figure. A respected journalist, she is remembered as the last of Ernest Hemingway’s four wives and as literary executor of one of one of the most important estates in history. Raised in rural northern Minnesota, she graduated from Northwestern University and in 1932 joined the staff of the “Chicago Daily News”. She left in 1938 to marry a man named Lawrence Cook, but following the break-up of the brief union returned to the “Daily News” where, in an ironic twist, her boss was the second husband of Hemingway’s first wife Hadley. Mary moved to Paris as a correspondent for “Time” and “Life”, but when Paris fell she relocated to London, worked for the “London Daily Express”, covered Churchill’s press conferences, and married Australian journalist Neil Monks. In 1944 Mary met Ernest Hemingway and the two began a sexual relationship despite the fact that she was still married to Monks and he was still tied, at least on paper, to Martha Gellhorn. Papa had a temper and the sailing wasn’t always smooth, but after both got their divorces the pair married in Cuba on March 14, 1946. Their relationship was complicated and while they were undoubtedly devoted to each other it was understood that Papa could not financially afford another divorce. The couple lived at Hemingway’s Havana home, the Finca Vigia, and in August of 1946 Mary suffered an ectopic pregnancy. Hemingway was never an easy man to live with and by that time he was in decline, aged beyond his years by hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, heavy drinking, and hard living, and the duty of trying to mitigate that decline and hide it from the world fell to Mary. She put up with Papa’s drunkeness, bad manners, and verbal abuse, and, at what cost to her self respect one can only imagine, with his six year long infatuation with pretty Italian teenager Adriana Ivancich. Still, Hemingway wrote, working on a massive novel entitled “The Garden of Eden” which would not be released until 1986, long after his death, and then only with major revisions and condensations, and in 1950 publishing “Across the River and Into the Trees”, a work felt by many authorities to be his nadir and in which Adriana makes an overt appearance as Renata. Stung by criticism of his book, Papa became depressed and Mary had to encourage him as best she could; indeed, as he worked on “The Old Man and the Sea”, “Life” magazine, which had agreed to publish it, secretly hired James Michener to back-check the piece as they feared that what one wag had dubbed “Across the Street and Into the Bar” was now as good as Hemingway could do. Mary had to console her husband thru the October 1, 1951 sudden death of his second wife Pauline, a circumstance made worse by Papa’s guilt over having had a monumental long distance telephone fight with Pauline the night before she died. In the event, no one need have worried about “The Old Man and the Sea” as Hemingway had written a classic for the ages, providing “Life” with a one-day sellout of the relevant issue and Scribner’s with a massive best-seller, as well as earning him his only Pulitzer Prize. As her husband’s spirits were temporarily lifted by his success, Mary accompanied him on an African safari that would be fictionalized in the posthumously published “True at First Light” (1999); in early 1954 the pair survived two small plane crashes in two days with Hemingway sustaining injuries from which he never fully recovered. As he read his premature obituaries, he drank to ease the pain while his mood and manner degenerated from difficult to impossible. When Papa was awarded the 1954 Nobel Prize in Literature, an honor that he felt may have been triggered by the erroneous news of his death, he was too ill to attend the awards ceremony and sent a recorded acceptance speech in his stead. Thru all the difficulties, Hemingway continued to work hard on “A Moveable Feast” and “True at First Light”, and as rumors circulated that the great author was visiting the Mayo Clinic for electro shock therapy Mary managed to keep the facts from the general public. In 1959 she relocated with him to Ketchum, Idaho, and later that year joined him on a trip to Spain where he covered a bullfighting ‘rivalry’ between Luis Miguel Dominguin and Antonio Ordonez for “Life”, the notes to be edited and published in 1985 as “The Dangerous Summer”. Hemingway’s father, Dr. Clarence “Ed” Hemingway, had committed suicide in 1928 and he had written as far back as the 1920s that he would probably one day do the same; on Sunday morning July 2, 1961, shortly after his return from yet another trip to the Mayo Clinic, Ernest Miller Hemingway, sick, depressed, and old before his time, blew his brains out with his favorite 12 gauge Boss shotgun, Mary inexplicably having left the gun cabinet key in plain sight. As she had covered-up his illness, Mary, with help, covered-up his death, partly to protect his reputation and partly to enable him to receive a Catholic burial. The absurdity of a firearms expert killing himself “by accident” while cleaning a double barrel shotgun was obvious and Mary eventually had to confirm the facts to the world. In the aftermath, Mary became Hemingway’s literary executor, and thus was responsible for the publication of “A Moveable Feast” (1964), “Islands in the Stream” (1970) and “The Garden of Eden” (1986), though with help from Papa’s sons Jack (by Hadley) and Patrick (by Pauline). She also retrieved a vast treasure trove of personal papers left behind at the Finca Vigia at the time of the move to Idaho; by the time Mary wanted to get at the material the house had been nationalized and a travel ban to Cuba was in effect, and thus she called on Jackie Kennedy for help. Deals were cut, pushed along by JFK and Castro both being big Hemingway fans, and Mary went to Cuba and brought back what she wanted. Mary’s story is told in her 1976 autobiography, “How It Was”, in Bernice Kert’s 1983 “The Hemingway Women”, and in each of the various Hemingway studies. She lived out her days in Manhattan and died following a protracted illness. Today the Ketchum home is a museum, the Finca Vigia has been more-or-less maintained by the Castro government, the Hemingway papers are preserved in a designated Hemingway Room at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, and Papa’s entire canon is still, and probably forever, in print.

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