Wallace Stegner

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Wallace Stegner
Wallace Stegner.jpg
Wallace Stegner, c. 1969
Born Wallace Earle Stegner
(1909-02-18)February 18, 1909
Lake Mills, Iowa, USA
Died April 13, 1993(1993-04-13) (aged 84)
Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
Occupation Historian, novelist, short story writer, environmentalist
Language English
Nationality American
Period 1937–1993
Notable award(s) Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
(1972, Angle of Repose)
National Book Award for Fiction
(1977, The Spectator Bird)
Spouse(s) Mary Stuart Page (1911–2010)
Children Page Stegner

Wallace Earle Stegner (February 18, 1909 – April 13, 1993) was an American historian, novelist, short story writer, and environmentalist, often called "The Dean of Western Writers".[1] He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1972[2] and the U.S. National Book Award in 1977.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Stegner was born in Lake Mills, Iowa, and grew up in Great Falls, Montana; Salt Lake City, Utah; and in the village of Eastend, Saskatchewan, which he wrote about in his autobiography Wolf Willow. Stegner says he "lived in twenty places in eight states and Canada".[4] He was the son of Hilda (née Paulson) and George Stegner.[5][6][7] Stegner summered in Greensboro, Vermont. While living in Utah, he joined a Boy Scout troop at an LDS Church (although he himself was a Presbyterian) and earned the Eagle Scout award. He received a B.A. at the University of Utah in 1930. He also studied at the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa, where he received a master's degree in 1932 and a doctorate in 1935.[8]

In 1934, Stegner married Mary Stuart Page. For 59 years they shared a 'personal literary partnership of singular facility,' in the words of Arthur Schlesinger Jr.[9] Stegner died in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on April 13, 1993, from a car accident on March 28, 1993.[10]

Stegner's son, Page Stegner, is a novelist, essayist nature writer and professor emeritus at University of California, Santa Cruz. Page is married to Lynn Stegner, a novelist.[11][12] Page co-authored "American Places" and edited the 2008 Collected Letters of Wallace Stegner.[13]

Career[edit]

Stegner taught at the University of Wisconsin and Harvard University. Eventually he settled at Stanford University, where he founded the creative writing program. His students included Sandra Day O'Connor, Edward Abbey, Wendell Berry, Simin Daneshvar, Andrew Glaze, George V. Higgins, Thomas McGuane, Robert Stone, Ken Kesey, Gordon Lish, Ernest Gaines, and Larry McMurtry. He served as a special assistant to Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall and was elected to the Sierra Club's board of directors for a term that lasted 1964–1966. He also moved into a house near Matadero Creek on Three Forks Road in nearby Los Altos Hills and became one of the town's most prominent residents. In 1962, he co-founded the Committee for Green Foothills, an environmental organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the hills, forests, creeks, wetlands and coastal lands of the San Francisco Peninsula.[14]

Stegner's novel Angle of Repose (first published by Doubleday in early 1971) won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1972.[2] Yet it was based on the letters of Mary Hallock Foote (first published in 1972 by Huntington Library Press as the memoir A Victorian Gentlewoman in the Far West). Stegner explained his use of unpublished archival letters briefly at the beginning of Angle of Repose but his use of uncredited passages taken directly from Foote's letters caused a continuing controversy.[15][16]

Stegner also won the National Book Award for The Spectator Bird in 1977.[3] In the late 1980s, he refused a National Medal from the National Endowment for the Arts because he believed the NEA had become too politicized. Stegner's semi-autobiographical novel Crossing to Safety (1987) gained broad literary acclaim and commercial popularity.

Stegner's non-fiction works include Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West (1954), a biography of John Wesley Powell, who was the first man to explore the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon and later served as a government scientist and advocate of water conservation in the American West. Stegner wrote the foreword and edited "This Is Dinosaur," with photographs by Philip Hyde, a Sierra Club book that was used in the campaign to prevent dams in Dinosaur National Monument and helped launch the modern environmental movement. A substantial number of his works are set in and around Greensboro, Vermont, where he lived part-time. Some of his character representations (particularly in Second Growth) were sufficiently unflattering that residents took offense, and he did not visit Greensboro for several years after its publication.[17]

Legacy[edit]

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Stegner's birth, Timothy Egan reflected in The New York Times on the writer's legacy, including his perhaps troubled relationship with the newspaper itself. Over 100 readers including Jane Smiley offered comments on the subject.[18]

In recognition of Stegner's legacy at the University of Utah, The Wallace Stegner Prize in Environmental or American Western History was established in 2010 and is administered by the University of Utah Press. This book publication prize is awarded to the best monograph the Press receives on the topic of American western or environmental history within a predetermined time period.[19]

Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho has a history of presenting an annual lecture titled after Stegner. The Wallace Stegner Lecture has long been a literary-cultural highlight for the LCSC community. Named in honor of Western writer Wallace Stegner, the annual lecture features discussions about the writer’s relationship with the physical and psychological territories in which he or she resides.

The Stegner Fellowship program at Stanford University is a two-year creative writing fellowship. The house Stegner lived in from age 7 to 12 in Eastend, Saskatchewan, Canada was restored by the Eastend Arts Council in 1990 and established as a Residence for Artists; the Wallace Stegner Grant For The Arts offers a grant of $500 and free residency at the house for the month of October for published Canadian writers.[20] In 2003, indie rock trio Mambo Sons released the Stegner-influenced song "Little Live Thing / Cross to Safety" written by Scott Lawson and Tom Guerra, which resulted in an invitation for Lawson to serve as Artist-in-Residency for March 2009.

In May 2011, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Stegner's Los Altos Hills home, which was sold in 2005, is scheduled to be demolished by the current owners. Lynn Stegner said the family attempted to sell the home to Stanford University in an attempt to preserve it, but the university said the home would be sold at market value, customary for real estate donated to Stanford. Wallace Stegner's wife, Mary, said that Wallace would disapprove of the fuss surrounding the issue.[21] Wallace initially opposed the creation of a hiking path near his home but Mary Stegner confided that her husband later came to enjoy walking on it, and the path was eventually named for him posthumously, in 2008.[22]

Bibliography[edit]

Novels
  • Remembering Laughter (1937)
  • The Potter's House (1938)
  • On a Darkling Plain (1940)
  • Fire and Ice (1941)
  • The Big Rock Candy Mountain (1943), semi-autobiographical
  • Second Growth (1947)
  • The Preacher and the Slave (1950), reissued as Joe Hill: A Biographical Novel
  • A Shooting Star (1961)
  • All the Little Live Things (1967)
  • Angle of Repose (1971), winner of the Pulitzer Prize[2]
  • The Spectator Bird (1976), winner of the National Book Award[3]
  • Recapitulation (1979)
  • Crossing to Safety (1987)
Collections
  • The Women on the Wall (1950)
  • The City of the Living: And Other Stories (1957)
  • Writer's Art: A Collection of Short Stories (1972)
  • The American West as Living Space (1987)[23]
  • Collected Stories of Wallace Stegner (1990)
  • Late Harvest: Rural American Writing (1996), with Bobbie Ann Mason
Chapbooks
  • Genesis: A Story from Wolf Willow (1994)
Nonfiction
  • Mormon Country (1942, American Folkways series)
  • One Nation (1945), with the editors of Look magazine
  • Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West (1954)
  • Wolf Willow: A History, a Story, and a Memory of the Last Plains Frontier (1962), autobiography
  • Wilderness Letter (1960) [Note 1]
  • The Gathering of Zion: The Story of the Mormon Trail (1964)
  • Teaching the Short Story (1966)
  • The Sound of Mountain Water (1969)
  • Discovery! The Search for Arabian Oil (1971)
  • The Uneasy Chair: A Biography of Bernard Devoto (1974)
  • Writer in America (1982)
  • Conversations with Wallace Stegner on Western History and Literature (1983)
  • This Is Dinosaur: Echo Park Country and its Magic Rivers (1985)
  • American Places (1985)
  • On the Teaching of Creative Writing (1988)
  • Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs: Living and Writing in the West (1992), autobiographical
Short Stories

Awards[edit]

Plus: Three O. Henry Awards, twice a Guggenheim Fellow (1949 and 1959[25]), Senior Fellow of the National Institute of Humanities, member of National Institute and American Academy of Arts and Letters, member National Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The Encyclopedia of World Biography reports that the Little Brown prize was for "$2500, which at that time was a fortune. The book became a literary and financial success and helped gain Stegner [the] position ... at Harvard."[25]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ According to Utah Gov. Huntsman in 2009, Wilderness Letter helped win passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964.[24] See also the Timeline of environmental events and the full text of the letter at The Wilderness Society Web site. Retrieved 2-24-09.
Citations
  1. ^ Evelyn Boswell (2006-10-05). "New Stegner professor to hit the ground running". Montana State University News Service. Retrieved 2007-09-09. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Fiction". Past winners & finalists by category. The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2012-03-29.
  3. ^ a b c d "National Book Awards – 1977". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-29.
    (With essay by Harold Augenbraum from the Awards 60-year anniversary blog.)
  4. ^ Stegner, Wallace, "Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs" Random House, 1992, back cover.
  5. ^ Wilson, John (2008-05-18). "That Stegner Fellow". The New York Times. 
  6. ^ http://www.wilderness.net/NWPS/Stegner?print=yes
  7. ^ http://www.enotes.com/wallace-stegner-salem/wallace-stegner-9810000779
  8. ^ William H. Honan, "Wallace Stegner Is Dead at 84; Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author," New York Times, April 15, 1993.
  9. ^ Wallace Stegner Biography. by James R. Hepworth The Quiet Revolutionary. Retrieved 2-24-09.
  10. ^ "Wallace Stegner Is Dead At 84; Pulitzer-Prize Winning Author." Honan, William H., New York Times, 15 April 1993, sec. B, p. 8. Link retrieved 2-19-09.
  11. ^ "Lynn Stegner Interview: Wallace Stegner Documentary" John Howe, interviewer; KUED-TV, n.d. Retrieved 2-19-09
  12. ^ Biography: Lynn Stegner University of Nebraska Press. Retrieved 2-19-09.
  13. ^ "The power of his pen - The Selected Letters of Wallace Stegner" Review by Susan Salter Reynolds, LA Times, Nov. 18, 2007. Retrieved 3-12-09.
  14. ^ "Committee for Green Foothills". Retrieved 2012-07-07. 
  15. ^ Mary Ellen Williams Walsh, 'Angle of Repose and the Writings of Mary Hallock Foote: A Source Study,' in Critical Essays on Wallace Stegner, edited by Anthony Arthur, G. K. Hall & Co., 1982, pp. 184-209.
  16. ^ "A Classic, or A Fraud? Plagiarism allegations aimed at Stegner's Angle of Repose won't be put to rest" by Philip L. Fradkin, Los Angeles Times, 3 February 2008, sec. M, p. 8. Link upgraded 2-19-09.
  17. ^ Joseph Gresser, "Wallace Stegner’s birthday celebrated with a hike and some talk, The Chronicle (Barton, Vermont), September 20, 2009.
  18. ^ "Stegner’s Complaint" by Timothy Egan, "Outpost" blog, The New York Times, Feb. 18, 2009 10:00 pm. Retrieved 2-19-09.
  19. ^ "Stegner Prize". University of Utah Press.  Retrieved 2011-06-29.
  20. ^ Stegner House Web site. Retrieved 2-24-09.
  21. ^ Whiting, Sam (2011-05-14). "Wallace Stegner's studio destined for demolition". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 
  22. ^ L. A. Chung (2011-05-15). "Writer Wallace Stegner's Home Appears Headed for Demolition". Los Altos Patch. Retrieved 2012-07-07. 
  23. ^ Derives from a series of three William W. Cook Lectures delivered at the Law School of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor on October 28,29 an 30, 1986. ISBN 0-472-06375-8
  24. ^ stegner100.com Stegner Centennial Utah Web site. Retrieved 2-24-09.
  25. ^ a b c d e f "Wallace Stegner" Encyclopedia of World Biography. Thomson Gale. 2004. Retrieved 2-24-09.

Further reading[edit]

  • Arthur, Anthony, ed (1982). Critical Essays on Wallace Stegner. G. K. Hall & Co.
  • Benson, Jackson J. (1984). Wallace Stegner: His Life and Work.
  • Fradkin, Philip L. (2007). "Wallace Stegner's Formative Years in Saskatchewan and Montana" in Montana: The Magazine of Western History, Winter 2007, Vol. 57, No. 4, pp. 3–19.
  • Fradkin, Philip L. (2008). Wallace Stegner and the American West.
  • Hepworth, James R. (1998). Stealing Glances: Three Interviews with Wallace Stegner Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. ASIN: B0014JC0I6.
  • Steensma, Robert C. (2007). "A Residual Frontier Town: Wallace Stegner's Salt Lake City" in Montana: The Magazine of Western History, Winter 2007, Vol. 57, No. 4, pp. 20–23)
  • Steensma, Robert C. (2007). Wallace Stegner's Salt Lake City, Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, ISBN 0-87480-898-7, ISBN 978-0-87480-898-8.
  • Stegner, Page, ed (2008). The Selected Letters of Wallace StegnerShoemaker & Hoard, ISBN 1-58243-446-8, ISBN 978-1-58243-446-9.
  • Stegner, Wallace (1983). Conversations with Wallace Stegner on Western History and Literature. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press.
  • Topping, Gary (2003). Utah Historians and the Reconstruction of Western History Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, ISBN 0-8061-3561-1.
  • Willrich, Patricia Rowe (1991). "A Perspective on Wallace Stegner" (1991) in Virginia Quarterly Review, Spring 1991, pp. 240–59.

External links[edit]