James Boyd (novelist)

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For the Canadian politician, see James P. Boyd.

James Boyd (July 2, 1888 – February 25, 1944), the son of a wealthy coal and oil family in Pennsylvania, was an American novelist.

Boyd's parents, John Yeomans Boyd and Eleanor Gilmore Herr Boyd, were from North Carolina and he was born in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. He attended Princeton University where he wrote verse and fiction for the Tiger and was its managing editor in his senior year. After graduation in 1910, he studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, and served overseas with the Army Ambulance Service in World War I. After World War I, due to many illnesses, he was forced into retirement and moved to Weymouth, a house his grandfather built in Southern Pines, North Carolina. Boyd's first book, Drums, was set in Edenton, North Carolina, and has been called the best novel written about the American Revolution.[1] He wrote five historical novels, including Bitter Creek, which were thought to have elevated the genre through greater historical accuracy, psychological and sociological awareness, and formal craftsmanship.

In 1940, Boyd organized the Free Company of Players, a group of American writers. This was a coalition of talent that, despite the powerful opposition of right-wing conservative interests, produced a series of original radio plays in response to what they saw as antidemocratic attitudes prevalent in America due to the growing war in Europe. One of his major accomplishments was to bring to his hometown and Weymouth many of the finest writers of the time. Some of the writers who attended were Paul Green, Thomas Wolfe, Sherwood Anderson, William Faulkner, Struthers Burt, and John Galsworthy. In 1941, Boyd bought The Pilot, a regional newspaper.

Boyd died in 1944, at age 55, in Princeton, New Jersey, where he had traveled for a speaking engagement.[2]


  • Drums (1925)
  • Marching On (1927)
  • Long Hunt (1930)
  • Bitter Creek (1939)
  • Roll River (1935)
  • The Free Company Presents
  • Eighteen Poems (1944)
  • Old Pines and Other Stories


  1. ^ Magill, Frank N. (ed.) (1958). "James Boyd". Cyclopedia of World Authors. New York: Harper & Row. pp. 124–5. 
  2. ^ "The Pilot History". The Pilot. Retrieved May 24, 2010. 

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