Edward Lewis Wallant

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Edward Lewis Wallant (October 19, 1926 - December 5, 1962) was an American writer. He is known for his novel The Pawnbroker (1961). It was adapted into an award-winning film of the same name, starring Rod Steiger. For years he supported himself as an advertising art director at McCanErikson.

Life and career[edit]

Wallant lived most of his life in New Haven, Connecticut. His parents were Anna Henrietta Mendel and Sol Ellis Wallant.[1] He attended local schools.

Wallant served in the Second World War as a gunner's mate. He attended the University of Connecticut and graduated from Pratt Institute, also studying writing at The New School in New York. His years at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, daily commuting to the city, and frequent visits to jazz clubs, inspired some of the New York settings of his books.

He worked as an advertising art director at McCanErikson working on accounts such as Bulova, Chock Full O' Nuts Coffee, and Oreo cookies in the city by day, Wallant wrote at night. Encouraged by his time at the Breadloaf Writers Conference, he won a Guggenheim Award in 1962.

Wallant began to write professionally at age twenty nine. His first works were short stories, published in the New Voices: American Writing Today series volumes I, II and III. These include "When Ben Awakened", "I Held Back My Hand", "The Man Who Made a Nice Appearance". His novels included The Human Season (1960) and The Pawnbroker (1961). This was adapted as an award-winning film starring Rod Steiger.

Two of his novels were published posthumously: The Tenants of Moonbloom (1963) and The Children at the Gate (1964). Wallant has been compared to Jewish-American writers of the postwar period such as Saul Bellow and Philip Roth.

Wallant died of an aneurysm at the age of 36. He was survived by his wife Joyce, who died in 1991, and by his son Scott, and daughters Leslie and Kim. Grandchildren included Nina, Steve, Nora, Eddie, Jon, Esme and Ruthie.


Shortly after Wallant's death in 1962, the Edward Lewis Wallant Award was established at the University of Hartford. It is presented annually to an American writer whose fiction is considered to have significance for American Jews. The first awardee was Norman Fruchter.



  1. ^ [1]

External links[edit]