Wright Morris

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Wright Morris

Wright Marion Morris (January 6, 1910 – April 25, 1998) was an American novelist, photographer, and essayist. He is known for his portrayals of the people and artifacts of the Great Plains in words and pictures, as well as for experimenting with narrative forms. Wright Morris died April 25, 1998 at the age of 88 years. He is buried in the Chapman Cemetery.[1]

Early life[edit]

Morris was born in Central City, Nebraska; his boyhood home is on the National Register of Historic Places.[2] His mother, Grace Osborn Morris, died six days after he was born. His father, William Henry Morris, worked for the Union Pacific Railroad. After Grace's death, Wright was cared for by a nanny, until his father made a trip to Omaha and returned with a young wife, Gertrude. In Will's Boy, Morris states, "Gertrude was closer to my age than to my father's".[3] Gertrude hated small-town life, but got along famously with Wright, as they shared many of the same childish tastes (both loved games, movies, and ice cream). In 1919, the family moved to Omaha, where they resided until 1924.

During that interlude, Morris spent two summers on his uncle's farm near Norfolk, Nebraska.[4] Photographs of the farm, as well as the real-life characters of Uncle Harry and Aunt Clara, appear in Morris's books.


Selected works[edit]

Awards and honors[edit]

Morris received numerous honors in addition to the National Book Awards for The Field of Vision[6] and Plains Song.[9][a] He was granted Guggenheim Fellowships[11] in 1942, 1946, and 1954. In 1975, he won the Mari Sandoz Award recognizing "significant, enduring contribution to the Nebraska book world".[12] In 1979, he received the Western Literature Association's Distinguished Achievement Award. In 1981, he won the Los Angeles Times' Book Prize Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement.[13] In 1982, a jury of Modern Language Association members selected him for the Common Wealth Award for distinguished service in literature.[14] In 1986, he was honored with a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.[15]


The full archive of Wright Morris photographs is located at the Center for Creative Photography (CCP) at the University of Arizona in Tucson, which also manages the copyright of these photographs.[16]

The Lincoln City Libraries of Lincoln, NE, houses some Morris correspondence and taped interviews in The Gale E. Christianson Collection of Eiseley Research Materials and The Wright Morris-Victor Musselman Correspondence collection.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries houses a collection of Wright Morris papers, including material donated by Josephine Morris (1927-2002), widow of Wright Morris.

Historical places in the life of Wright Morris[edit]

Wright Morris wrote about the places and lives he knew.[17] Here are a few of the most historic.


  1. ^ a b Plains Song won the 1981 award for hardcover Fiction.
    From 1980 to 1983 in National Book Awards history there were dual hardcover and paperback awards in most categories. Most of the paperback award-winners were reprints, including the 1981 Fiction.


  1. ^ "Who Is Wright Morris". Lone Tree Literary Society www.wrightmorris.org
  2. ^ "Nebraska National Register Sites in Merrick County". Nebraska State Historical Society. Retrieved 2009-11-06.
  3. ^ Morris, Wright (1981). Will's Boy. New York: Harper & Row. 
  4. ^ "Wright Morris Biography". Center for Great Plains Studies. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Retrieved 2007-03-15. 
  5. ^ "National Book Awards – 1955". NBF. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
  6. ^ a b "National Book Awards - 1957". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
    (With essay by Harold Augenbraum from the Awards 60-year anniversary blog.)
  7. ^ "National Book Awards – 1958". NBF. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
  8. ^ "National Book Awards – 1961". NBF. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
  9. ^ a b "National Book Awards - 1981". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
    (With essay by Patricia Smith from the Awards 60-year anniversary blog.)
  10. ^ a b "The O. Henry Prize Stories". Random House Publishing. Retrieved 2007-03-15. 
  11. ^ "John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation". Archived from the original on 2007-02-05. Retrieved 2007-03-15. 
  12. ^ "Nebraska Library Association Handbook". Retrieved 2007-03-15. 
  13. ^ "Los Angeles Times Book Prizes". Retrieved 2007-03-15. 
  14. ^ "Wright Morris Honored on Service in Literature". NY Times. 1982-10-03. Retrieved 2007-03-15. 
  15. ^ "National Endowment for the Arts". Retrieved 2007-03-15. 
  16. ^ CCP's "Conditions for Publication of Photographs by Wright Morris" (PDF file). Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona Libraries.[dead link]
  17. ^ "Historical Buildings in the Life of Wright Morris". Lone Tree Literary Society. 

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Howard, Leon (1968). Wright Morris. University of Minnesota pamphlets on American writers. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. OCLC 170184. 
  • Morris, Wright (1991). "The Art of Fiction No. 125". The Paris Review 120 (Fall).