Conrad Richter

Conrad Michael Richter (October 13, 1890 – October 30, 1968) was an American novelist whose lyrical work is concerned largely with life on the American frontier in various periods. His novel The Town (1950), the last story of his trilogy The Awakening Land about the Ohio frontier, won the 1951 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.[1] His novel The Waters of Kronos won the 1961 National Book Award for Fiction.[2] Two collections of short stories were published posthumously during the 20th century, and several of his novels have been reissued during the 21st century by academic presses.

Conrad Richter
Conrad Richter
Conrad Michael Richter

October 13, 1890
DiedOctober 30, 1968 (aged 78)
Years active1924–1968
Known forThe Sea of Grass, The Light in the Forest, The Town, The Awakening Land
Spouse(s)Harvena Maria Achenbach (died in 1972)

Early life

Conrad Michael Richter was born in 1890 in Tremont, Pennsylvania, near Pottsville, to John Absalom Richter, a Lutheran minister, and Charlotte Esther (née Henry) Richter. His grandfather, uncle and great-uncle were also Lutheran ministers, and descended from German colonial immigrants. As a child, Richter lived with his family in several small central Pennsylvania mining towns, where he encountered descendants of pioneers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries who shared family stories. These inspired him later to write historical fiction set on changing American frontiers. Attending local public schools, Richter finished his formal education when he graduated at age fifteen from high school.[3]

Early career, marriage and move to New Mexico

At the age of 19, Richter started working as an editor of a local weekly newspaper, the Patton, Pennsylvania Courier. In 1911 Richter relocated to Cleveland, Ohio and worked as the private secretary to a wealthy manufacturing family. Richter married Harvena Maria Achenbach in 1915. They had their only child, Harvena Richter, in 1917. Richter worked subsequently for a small publishing company, initiated a juvenile magazine, and started writing short stories. During the 1930s, he also performed two brief stints as a screenwriter for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios in Hollywood, California.[4]

Richter continued writing and trying to sell short stories.[3] His short story "Brothers of No Kin," published in Forum magazine in 1914,[3] was included in the "Roll of Honor for 1914" of American stories by Edward J. O'Brien, editor of the Best Short Stories of 1915.[5] O'Brien wrote in his "Introduction" that Richter's story was the best of all those published in 1914; the editor was explicitly concerned with the development of an "American literature" and considered Richter as integral to this.[5] This short story was re-issued as the title story of a posthumous collection published in 1973.

In 1928 Richter relocated to Albuquerque, New Mexico, for the sake of his wife's health.[4] During this period, he also collected much material from which he created short stories about the Southwest frontier days. By 1933, Richter and his wife had returned to live in his hometown of Pine Grove, Pennsylvania. They subsequently alternated between Pine Grove, Albuquerque, and Florida.[6]

Writing career

During the early 1930s, Richter had numerous stories published in pulp magazines such as Triple-X, Short Stories, Complete Stories, Ghost Stories, and Blue Book.[7][8] His Early Americana and Other Stories (1936) was considered his first successful book.[6]

He persisted with his work, gradually writing and publishing full-length novels. Richter set his novels in different periods of American history on its changing frontier. He may be best known for The Sea of Grass (1936), set in late nineteenth-century New Mexico, and featuring conflict between ranchers and farmers. It was later adapted as a movie of the same name, directed by Elia Kazan and featuring Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, released in 1947.

Richter's novel The Light in the Forest (1953), set in late eighteenth-century Pennsylvania and Ohio, featured challenges faced by a young white man who had become an assimilated Lenape Amerindian after being taken captive as a child. After the boy was returned as a youth to white culture, he was considered suspicious. This novel also became very popular and had a second life as a movie, released in 1958. Richter returned to the topic of the white child raised in an alien culture in his later novel A Country of Strangers (1966). As noted by Ernest Cady in his review in the Columbus Dispatch, both books were written from the point of view of Indians. He wrote of Richter,

He simply tells how he thinks things were for both Indians and whites, in a hard time of violence and danger and change on a raw frontier. And does it so convincingly that the reader senses that this indeed, is how it must have been.[3]

During this period, Richter also published the novels of his trilogy The Awakening Land, about the Ohio frontier: The Trees (1940), The Fields (1946), and The Town (1950). In 1947 he won the Ohioana Book Award for The Fields.[3] The Town was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1951.[1] In a review of the last novel, Louis Bromfield, also an Ohio writer and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, wrote of the trilogy:

the three books are not only concerned with Sayward and her family but the growth and the astonishingly rapid development of a whole area which has played a key role in the nation’s history… Mr. Richter has reproduced the quality and the speech of these people so well that a thousand years from now, one may read his books and know exactly what these people were like and what it was like to have lived in an era when within three or four generations a frontier wilderness turned into one of the great industrial areas of the earth…. ‘The Town’ stands on its own as an entity and may be read on its own as a full, rich and comprehensive novel based upon the lives of ordinary people, brave and ever heroic in their own small way...[3]

The trilogy was first published in one volume in 1966 by Alfred A. Knopf. It was adapted as a TV miniseries of the same name in 1978, in which several plot changes were made as a result of the changing social culture of the time, especially concerning race and sexuality. When the trilogy was reissued in 1991 by Ohio University Press, it was a revised edition that incorporated some of these changes.

Richter's short story, "Doctor Hanray's Second Chance", first published in the magazine The Saturday Evening Post in 1950 (June 10),[9] has a theme of reconciling with the past. Richter returned to this theme in his autobiographical novel, The Waters of Kronos (Chronos)(1960). (Chronos was the ancient Greek personification of Time.) This novel won the U.S. National Book Award in 1961.[2]

The short story "Doctor Hanray" was republished in the anthology, The Saturday Evening Post Fantasy Stories (1951) and in several later speculative fiction anthologies published by the Post and others.[9] The Internet Speculative Fiction Database catalogs five of Richter's stories, including a very early one, "The Head of His House", from a 1917 anthology, The Grim Thirteen (Dodd, Mead).[9]

After Richter's death, two short story collections were published posthumously. Additionally, several of his novels have been reissued by academic presses. When The Waters of Kronos was reissued in paperback format in 2003, one reviewer wrote,

To celebrate the reappearance of such a worthy novel may be an expression of regional patriotism, but it should also be an opportunity to think about our own small towns, our own haunted memories, and our own quest for the meaning of the past.

— Jeffrey S. Wood, Cumberland County History[6]


  • Early Americana (short stories) (1936)
  • The Sea of Grass (1936)
  • The Trees (1940)
  • Tacey Cromwell (1942)
  • The Free Man (1943)
  • The Fields (1946)
  • Always Young and Fair (1947)
  • The Town (1950)
  • The Light in the Forest (1953)
  • The Mountain on the Desert (1955)
  • The Lady (1957)
  • The Waters of Kronos (1960/2003)
  • A Simple Honorable Man (1962)
  • The Grandfathers (1964)
  • A Country of Strangers (1966)
  • The Awakening Land (trilogy in single volume, 1966/1991 revised paperback edition/2017 trade paperback editions reprinted from original Knopf editions)
  • The Aristocrat (1968)
  • Brothers of No Kin and Other Stories (posthumous short story collection, 1973)
  • The Rawhide Knot and Other Stories (posthumous short story collection, 1985)

Legacy and honors

Richter received national and regional literary awards, and several honorary doctorates.


  1. ^ a b "Fiction", Past winners & finalists by category. The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2012-03-28.
  2. ^ a b "National Book Awards – 1961". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-28. (With essay by Harold Augenbraum from the Awards 60-year anniversary blog.)
  3. ^ a b c d e f Conrad Richter. Ohioana Authors
  4. ^ a b David R. Johnson, Conrad Richter Archived 2008-07-20 at the Wayback Machine, Penn State Press, 2001
  5. ^ a b Edward J. O'Brien (editor), "Introduction", Best Short Stories of 1915, Boston: Small, Maynard & Company, 1915, e-text online at Gutenberg Project
  6. ^ a b c Overview, Paperback version of The Waters of Kronos, Pennsylvania State University Press, 2003 Archived 2014-05-08 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Conrad Richter (American Society of Authors and Writers)
  8. ^ Conrad Richter author spotlight(Random House, Inc.)
  9. ^ a b c Conrad Richter at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB). Retrieved 2013-11-19. Select a title to see its linked publication history and general information. Select a particular edition (title) for more data at that level, such as a front cover image or linked contents.

External links

1951 Pulitzer Prize

The following are the Pulitzer Prizes for 1951.

G. A. Kulkarni

G. A. Kulkarni (Gurunath Abaji Kulkarni) or simply "GA" ( 10 July 1923 - 11 December 1987 ) (Marathi: जी. ए. कुलकर्णी, "जीए"), was a legendary Sahitya Akademi Award winner Marathi writer of short stories.

Kulkarni grew up in Belgaum. After earning his master's degree, he taught English at JSS College in Dharwad for about 30 years. He had very strong liking for Dharwad and Belgaum. For medical treatment of his eyes, he reluctantly moved to Pune in 1985. A major road in the Kothrud area of Pune, where Kulkarni lived for couple of years before his death, has been named after him.

Kulkarni, who bought new strength and vitality to the Marathi short story, is admittedly the most distinguished exponent of that genre. A contemporary of Gangadhar Gadgil, Arvind Gokhale and Vyankatesh Madgulkar, he did not subscribe to the cause of modernism in literature. He charted his own separate course and cultivated new acuity and taste for a class of faithful readers.Kulkarni created a world of his own in his short stories where his characters are in pursuit of the unknowable destiny. A dark mode reflects the inscrutable ways in which destiny shadows his characters. His use of symbolism, allegory and irony provides his stories a unique texture and ethos. His world encompasses a wide diversity of locales, situations, characters and experiences; yet, in his earlier stories, it is demarcated by the region bordering Maharashtra and Karnataka. The mythic, allegorical experiences make it difficult to sort out the realities from the dreams, themes, and meditations. Yet, it is possible for the reader to identify with his characters, places, and experiences because of his keen observation of human, animal, and social worlds in their beauty and deformity.

Critics observe that characters in Kulkarni's world are multifaceted, but they are not independent. They lead their lives as if they are puppets guided by an unseen hand and are unable to change the direction. Why they follow that path to their demise or why they cannot change it by their volition is not known. In that sense, his work is a reversal of direction fostered by the modernist short story in Marathi. GA's earlier short stories depicted the tragic and cruel aspects of the human situation. His later works were almost Kafkaesque, without Kafka-like black humour. Some of his later works were allegorical and reminiscent of Borges.

Some of Kulkarni's short stories have been translated into English, Hindi, and Kannada. He was honoured in 1973 with a Sahitya Akademi Award for his collection of short stories Kajalmaya. Critically acclaimed Marathi movie Kairee, which was directed by Amol Palekar, was based on one of his short stories. Based on GA's short story, Director Kranti Kanade made short film Chaitra that went on to win five National Film Awards in 2002.

Kulkarni was a prolific correspondent. Though he had an obsession to keep his life private, he also longed to reach out through letters to his friends who shared his tastes. Four volumes of his letters were published after his death. He had written many of those letters to "Shri Pu" Bhagwat, Sunita Deshpande, Madhav Achawal, Jaywant Dalvi, Anantrao Kulkarni, and "Ma Da" Hatkanangalekar.Kulkarni translated five novels by Conrad Richter into Marathi in the 1960s for a project which USIS in India had initiated for getting some prominent American writings translated into Indian languages. He also wrote the book Manase Arbhat Ani Chillar, which contains seemingly autobiographical musings.

Helene Wurlitzer Foundation

Helene Wurlitzer Foundation is an artists' colony in Taos, New Mexico. The Foundation, which offers prize fellowships to painters, poets, sculptors, writers, playwrights, composers, photographers and filmmakers, was established in 1954.Artists, who have been awarded residencies at the colony include: David Noon, Harryette Mullen, Philip Gambone, Emily Warn, Robert Chesley, Paul Elwood, Mary Crow, Carol Bergé, Jon Berson, Conrad Richter, Agnes Martin, Judith Arcana, Jonathan Blum, and J. Timothy Hunt.

John Martin's Book

John Martin's Book was a children's magazine aimed at five- to eight-year-olds. Martin Gardner wrote that it was a "pioneering publication" and the "most entertaining magazine" aimed at this age group published in the US. Priced from 10 to 50 cents over its twenty-year run, it was primarily purchased by middle and upper income families due to its cost."John Martin" was the pseudonym of Morgan van Roorbach Shepard (April 8, 1865–May 16, 1947). He was born in Brooklyn, New York but raised on a plantation in Maryland and took his name from the colony of martins that lived there. His mother died when he was nine, a crushing blow, and he was sent to a series of boarding schools where he was frequently bullied. As an adult, he claimed he was caught up in a revolution in Central America. He ended up working a variety of jobs in California, including a streetcar conductor, where he was fired for giving free rides to children, a newspaper reporter, and a bank clerk. He opened a business designing greeting cards in the Crocker Building in San Francisco, California, but it was demolished by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and his leg was badly injured while he was trying to retrieve items from his office safe.While recovering and bedridden he began writing children's stories and verse for publication. He began writing long, illustrated letters to children, which in 1908 became a small publication called John Martin's Letters he was mailing to 2000 children a month. In 1912, it became the magazine John Martin's Book.The magazine included stories, illustrations, and puzzles. John Martin's House also published a series of hardcover John Martin Big Books reprinting material from the magazine. The magazine's puzzles were presented by a character named Peter Puzzlemaker. A collection of these puzzles was published by John Martin's House as Peter Puzzlemaker in 1922 and republished by Martin Gardner in the 1990s.Shephard was assisted by Helen Jane Waldo (1876?–1937), who was associate editor during the entire run of the magazine. Notable writers and artists who contributed to John Martin's Book include Thornton Burgess, Conrad Richter, Grace Adele Pierce, Johnny Gruelle, Justin Gruelle, Jack Yeats, William Wallace Denslow, Frank Verbeck, and Wanda Gag. The most important contributor was illustrator George Carlson, who contributed over fifty covers and most of the puzzles, riddles, and activities to the magazine.After the end of John Martin's Book, Shepard became juvenile director for the National Broadcasting Company.

Pine Grove, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania

Pine Grove is a borough in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, in the United States. As of the 2000 census, the borough population was 2,154.

Pine Grove Area School District, serving students from three municipalities and multiple surrounding townships, is located in the town.

The Awakening Land

For the trilogy of novels of the same name by Conrad Richter on which this miniseries was based, see The Awakening Land trilogy.The Awakening Land is a 1978 television miniseries based on Conrad Richter's trilogy of novels: The Trees; The Fields; and The Town, published from 1940 to 1950. The series originally aired on NBC in three installments from February 19 to February 21, 1978; directed by Boris Sagal, it starred Elizabeth Montgomery and Hal Holbrook.

The Awakening Land trilogy

The Awakening Land trilogy by Conrad Richter is a series of three novels that explore the lives of a white American frontier family in the Ohio Valley from the late 18th century to the middle of the 19th. The series consists of The Trees (1940), The Fields (1946), and The Town (1950); the third novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1951. These works established Richter as a major novelist of historical fiction.

The Awakening Land trilogy was first issued in a single hardcover volume in September 1966, by Alfred A. Knopf. The trilogy was adapted as a United States TV miniseries by the same name, produced in 1978. The three novels were reissued in paperback in 1991 by Ohio University Press, and also in 2017 by Chicago Review Press.

The Fields

The Fields may refer to:

The Fields (film), a horror film starring Cloris Leachman and Tara Reid

The Fields (novel), a 1946 novel by Conrad Richter

The Fields (2013 novel), a 2013 novel by Kevin Maher

The Fields (album), a 1996 album by jazz saxophonist Glenn Spearman

Texas Killing Fields, also known as The Fields, a 2011 crime film

The Fields (novel)

The Fields is a 1946 novel by Conrad Richter and the second work in his trilogy The Awakening Land. It continues the story of the characters Portius and Sayward Luckett Wheeler begun in the novel The Trees.

The Light in the Forest

The Light in the Forest is a novel first published in 1953 by U.S. author Conrad Richter. Though it is a work of fiction and primarily features fictional characters, the novel incorporates historic figures and is based in historical fact related to the late eighteenth century and period of the American Revolutionary War.

A 1958 feature film of the same name was adapted from the novel and produced by Walt Disney Productions. It starred Fess Parker, Joanne Dru, James MacArthur, and Wendell Corey; Lawrence Edward Watkin, Paul J. Smith, and Hazel ("Gil") George composed the title song.

The Light in the Forest (film)

The Light in the Forest is a 1958 film based on a novel of the same name first published in 1953 by U.S. author Conrad Richter. The film was produced by Walt Disney Productions and starred Fess Parker, Joanne Dru, James MacArthur, and Wendell Corey. Though it is a work of fiction and primarily features fictional characters, the novel incorporates several real people and facts from U.S. history.

The Moviegoer

The Moviegoer is the debut novel by Walker Percy, first published in the United States by Vintage in 1961. It won the U.S. National Book Award. Time magazine included the novel in its "Time 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005". In 1998, the Modern Library ranked The Moviegoer sixtieth on its list of the hundred best English-language novels of the twentieth century. It is published in the UK by Methuen.The novel is heavily influenced by the existentialist themes of authors like Søren Kierkegaard, whom Percy read extensively. Unlike many dark didactic existentialist novels (including Percy's later work), The Moviegoer has a light poetic tone. It was Percy's first, most famous, and most widely praised novel, and established him as one of the major voices in Southern literature. The novel also draws on elements of Dante by paralleling the themes of Binx Bolling's life to that of the narrator of the Divine Comedy.

The Sea of Grass

The Sea of Grass is a 1936 novel by Conrad Richter. It is set in New Mexico in the late 19th century, and concerns the clash between rich ranchers, whose cattle run freely on government-owned land, a prairie "sea of grass," and the homesteaders or "nesters," who build fences and try to cultivate the soil for subsistence farming. It is an epic portrayal of the end of the cowboy era in the American Southwest on the Great Plains.

Against this background is set the triangle of cattle rancher Jim Brewton, his wife Lutie Cameron from St. Louis, and Brice Chamberlain, an ambitious local federal judge. Richter casts the story in Homeric terms, with the children caught up in the conflicts of their parents. The novel is narrated through the eyes of Hal, Colonel Brewton's nephew.

The Sea of Grass (film)

The Sea of Grass is a 1947 Western drama film set in the American Southwest. It was directed by Elia Kazan and based on the 1936 novel of the same name by Conrad Richter. The film stars Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, and Melvyn Douglas.

Kazan was reportedly displeased with the resulting film and discouraged people from seeing it.

The Town (Richter novel)

For the novel of the same name by William Faulkner, see The Town (Faulkner).

For the film of the same name and different source see The Town (2010 film).The Town (1950) is a novel written by American author Conrad Richter. It is the third installment of his trilogy The Awakening Land. The Trees (1940) and The Fields (1946) were the earlier portions of the series. The Town was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1951.

In September 1966, his publisher Alfred A. Knopf reissued the trilogy for the first time as a single hardcover volume. According to the edition notice of this all-in-one version—which lists the original publication dates of the three books -- The Town was first published on 24 April 1950.

The Trees (novel)

The Trees, the first novel of Conrad Richter's trilogy The Awakening Land, is set in the wilderness of central Ohio (c. 1795). The simple plot — composed of what are essentially episodes in the life of a pioneer family before the virgin hardwood forest was cut down — is told in a third-person narration rich with folklore and suggestive of early backwoods speech. The central character is Sayward Luckett, the eldest daughter in a family who the narrator says "followed the woods as some families follow the sea." The book was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1940.

The Trees was followed by The Fields (1946) and The Town (1950). A single-volume trilogy was published in 1966.

The Waters of Kronos

The Waters of Kronos is a novel by Conrad Richter published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1960. It won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1961.According to Penn State University, "this is the story of John Donner, an aging writer who has driven from the West Coast back to Unionville, Pennsylvania, where he grew up. He discovers that the town he once knew has been submerged under the Kronos River because of a dam created to supply power for a hydroelectric plant. After viewing where the residents of the town cemeteries have been relocated, Donner finds himself on a road that went through Unionville to coal mines, where he improbably sees a wagon carrying coal and seemingly rides this wagon into the past. Once there, he finds it is the night before his grandfather's funeral, and although he knows the town and its inhabitants, they do not know him."Richter describes the town and its inhabitants in sensual detail:

"The silent shadows of toads hopped in the garden. Occasional townspeople would pass on the street, the girls in light summer dresses, and all the time the drift of voices from front porches where families sat with occasional words between them or to those passing and pausing to chat and tell some news, so that by the time one went from Mill to Maple Street

a social evening could be passed."

Tension builds as Donner longs for his family to know and love him while they show him only distant, courteous hospitality.

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