Evan S. Connell

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Evan S. Connell
BornEvan Shelby Connell Jr.
(1924-08-17)August 17, 1924
Kansas City, Missouri
DiedJanuary 10, 2013(2013-01-10) (aged 88)
Santa Fe, New Mexico
GenreFiction, non-fiction
Notable worksMrs. Bridge, Mr. Bridge, Son of the Morning Star

Evan Shelby Connell Jr. (August 17, 1924 – January 10, 2013) was a U.S. novelist, short-story writer, essayist and author of epic historical works. He also published under the name Evan S. Connell Jr.

In 2009, Connell was nominated for the Man Booker International Prize, for lifetime achievement.[1] On April 23, 2010, he was awarded a Los Angeles Times Book Prize: the Robert Kirsch Award, for "a living author with a substantial connection to the American West, whose contribution to American letters deserves special recognition."[2]


Connell was born in Kansas City, Missouri, the only son of Evan S. Connell, Sr. (1890–1974), a physician, and Ruth Elton Connell. He had a sister, Barbara (Mrs. Matthew Zimmermann), to whom he dedicated his novel Mrs. Bridge (1959). He graduated from Southwest High School in Kansas City in 1941. He started undergraduate work at Dartmouth College but joined the Navy in 1943 and became a pilot. After the end of World War II, he graduated from the University of Kansas in 1947, with a B.A. in English. He studied creative writing at Columbia University in New York and Stanford University in California.[3] He never married, and lived and worked in San Francisco and Sausalito, California from 1954 to 1989, when he moved to Santa Fe, N.M.

Connell was found dead on January 10, 2013, at an assisted-living facility in Santa Fe, New Mexico.[4]


Connell's novels Mrs. Bridge (1959) and Mr. Bridge (1969) are bittersweet, gently satirical portraits of a conventional, unimaginative upper middle-class couple living in Kansas City from the 1920s to the 1940s. The couple tries to live up to societal expectations and to be good parents, but they are sadly incapable of bridging the emotional distance between themselves and their children, and between each other.[citation needed]

The pair of novels was adapted as a 1990 Merchant-Ivory motion picture, Mr. and Mrs. Bridge, starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Critics gave the film mostly positive reviews.[5]

Connell's 1960 novel, The Patriot, is the story of Melvin Isaacs, aged 17, and his experiences in naval aviation school during the Second World War. Melvin faces the terrifying reality of training and the likelihood of his "washing out" (failing). Melvin's attempts to communicate the realities of his experience to his father are rebuffed. The characters of Melvin and his father Jacob are similar in many respects to those of Douglas and Mr. Bridge.[citation needed] Though not well reviewed, The Patriot contains some rewarding social satire and impressive scenes of aviation.

Connell's 1984 sweeping account of George Armstrong Custer and the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Son of the Morning Star, earned critical acclaim, was a bestseller, and was adapted as a television film/miniseries in 1991. The film won four Emmy Awards.

Dorothy Parker described Connell as "a writer of fine style and amazing variety".[6]

Legacy and honors[edit]



  • Mrs. Bridge (1959)
  • The Patriot (1960)
  • The Diary of a Rapist (1966)
  • Mr. Bridge (1969)
  • The Connoisseur (1974)
  • Double Honeymoon (1976)

Short Fiction

  • "I'll Take You To Tennessee," in Stanford Short Stories Nineteen Forty-Nine. Edited by Wallace Stegner. (1949)
  • The Anatomy Lesson (1957)
  • At The Crossroads (1965)
  • "Here it is", in Why Work Series, editor Gordon Lish (1966)
  • Saint Augustine's Pigeon: The Selected Stories of Evan S. Connell (1982)
  • The Collected Stories of Evan S. Connell (1995)


  • A Long Desire: Essays (1979)
  • White Lantern: Essays (1981)
  • Son of the Morning Star: Custer and the Little Bighorn (1985, ISBN 0-88394-088-4)
  • The Alchymist's Journal (1991, republished in 2006 as Alchymic Journals)
  • Deus Lo Volt!: A Chronicle of the Crusades (2000, ISBN 1-58243-140-X)
  • The Aztec Treasure House: New and Selected Essays (2001, ISBN 1-58243-253-8)(non-fiction)
  • Francisco Goya: A Life (2004, ISBN 1-58243-307-0)
  • Lost in Uttar Pradesh (2008, ISBN 978-1-59376-175-2)


  • Notes From A Bottle Found on the Beach at Carmel (1962)
  • Points for A Compass Rose (1973)

Further reading[edit]

  • Literary Alchemist: The Writing Life of Evan S. Connell, by Steve Paul (2021, ISBN 9780826222466) (biography)


  1. ^ Carlson, Michael (January 14, 2013). "Evan S Connell obituary". The Guardian. London. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
  2. ^ Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, home page
  3. ^ Lawrence M. Bensky, "Meet Evan Connell, Friend of Mr. and Mrs. Bridge", The New York Times, April 20, 1969; retrieved on June 8, 2009
  4. ^ Yardley, William (January 10, 2013). "Evan Connell, 88, Novelist in Multiple Genres". The New York Times.
  5. ^ "Mr. & MRS. Bridge". Rotten Tomatoes.
  6. ^ Oppenheimer, Mark (February 2005). "An Era of Awkward Repression". The Believer. Retrieved April 10, 2013.

External links[edit]