Richard Hooker (author)

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Richard Hooker
Richard Hornberger at the original Swamp.jpg
Hooker at the original "Swamp" tent at the 8055th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in South Korea during the Korean War.
Hiester Richard Hornberger Jr.

(1924-02-01)February 1, 1924
Trenton, New Jersey, United States
DiedNovember 4, 1997(1997-11-04) (aged 73)
Resting placeHillside Cemetery, Bremen, Maine
Other namesRichard Hooker
EducationPeddie School
Alma materBowdoin College
Weill Cornell Medical School
Known forM*A*S*H
Spouse(s)Priscilla Storer
Military career
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Unit8055th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital
Battles/warsKorean War

Hiester Richard Hornberger Jr. (February 1, 1924 – November 4, 1997) was an American writer and surgeon who wrote under the pseudonym Richard Hooker. Hornberger's best-known work was his novel MASH (1968), based on his harrowing drama and comedic experiences as a wartime army surgeon doctor during the Korean War (1950–1953) and written in collaboration with W. C. Heinz. It was used as the basis for an award-winning, critically and commercially successful movie – M*A*S*H (1970) and two years later in an acclaimed long running television series (1972–1983) of the same name.

Education and military experience[edit]

Born in Trenton, New Jersey, Hornberger attended the Peddie School in Hightstown.[1] He graduated from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, where he was an active member of the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity. He went to Cornell Medical School in New York City of Cornell University of Ithaca, New York and after graduation served as a physician surgeon in the United States Army Medical Corps during the Korean War (1950–1953).

After the war, Hornberger worked for the U.S. Veterans Administration, qualified for his surgical boards, and went into private practice. He settled into practice at Broad Cove in Bremen, Maine.

Writing career[edit]

His experiences at the 8055th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital were the background for his novel MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors (1968), which he worked on for eleven years. MASH was rejected by many publishers. He worked with the famed sportswriter, W. C. Heinz, to revise it. A year later, the book was acquired by William Morrow and Company.[2] Published under Hornberger's pseudonym, Richard Hooker, the novel was highly successful.[citation needed]


MASH was adapted as a film by the same name, directed by Robert Altman and released in 1970. It was nominated for five Academy Awards and won for Best Adapted Screenplay.

A TV series was developed, that debuted in 1972 and ran for eleven seasons. Hornberger reportedly did not like Alan Alda's portrayal of Hawkeye in the TV series, favoring the Robert Altman film, in which Pierce was played by Donald Sutherland.[3]

According to John Baxter in A Pound of Paper: Confessions of a Book Addict, Hornberger "was so furious at having sold the film rights for only a few hundred dollars that he never again signed a copy of the book."


Hornberger wrote the sequels to MASH, M*A*S*H Goes to Maine (1972) and M*A*S*H Mania (1977), neither of which enjoyed the commercial success of the original. While MASH was a fairly faithful reflection of Hornberger's service in Korea, his sequels were diverse representations of the "Swamp Gang's" post-Korea activities in the fictional town of Spruce Harbor, Maine, from 1953 to the 1970s. Attempts to adapt M*A*S*H Goes to Maine into a film met with failure, perhaps because the characters in the latter books were independent of those developed on screen.

The sequels are characterised by gentle humour, stereotypical local characters, and a nostalgic look at Maine and its people through Hornberger's eyes. Throughout, the "Swamp Gang" prospers, gets its own way most of the time, and generally become more conservative as the years pass. The men play golf and are sometimes thorns in the side of "the summer complaints" (tourists) and local bigwigs.

Hornberger's departure from the franchise[edit]

A series of books based on the franchise were published in between M*A*S*H Goes to Maine and M*A*S*H Mania. They were credited to "Richard Hooker and William E. Butterworth", although they were written entirely by Butterworth. The characters travel to Moscow, New Orleans, San Francisco, Paris, etc. These were hastily written to capitalize on the TV show's popularity and were of dubious literary merit. The action was transposed to the 1970s so that people such as Henry Kissinger could be lampooned, but this would have made some of the characters quite old, if the descriptions in the first book were to be believed. For instance, Hot Lips would have been in her 60s, having been described as "fortyish" in the first novel.[4]

After the success of his book and its screen adaptations, Hornberger continued to practice as a surgeon in Waterville until his retirement in 1988. He died at the age of 73 on November 4, 1997, of leukemia.[5]

Published works[edit]

  • 01. MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors (1968)
  • 02. M*A*S*H Goes to Maine (Jun 1971)
  • 03. M*A*S*H Goes to New Orleans (with William E Butterworth) (Jan 1975)
  • 04. M*A*S*H Goes to Paris (with William E Butterworth) (Jan 1975)
  • 05. M*A*S*H Goes to London (with William E Butterworth) (June 1975)
  • 06. M*A*S*H Goes to Morocco (with William E Butterworth) (Jan 1976)
  • 07. M*A*S*H Goes to Las Vegas (with William E Butterworth) (Jan 1976)
  • 08. M*A*S*H Goes to Hollywood (with William E Butterworth) (April 1976)
  • 09. M*A*S*H Goes to Miami (with William E Butterworth) (Sep 1976)
  • 10. M*A*S*H Goes to San Francisco (with William E Butterworth) (Nov 1976)
  • 11. M*A*S*H Goes to Vienna (with William E Butterworth) (June 1976)
  • 12. M*A*S*H Goes to Montreal (with William E Butterworth) (1977)
  • 13. M*A*S*H Goes to Texas (with William E Butterworth) (Feb 1977)
  • 14. M*A*S*H Goes to Moscow (with William E Butterworth) (Sep 1977)
  • 15. M*A*S*H Mania (1977)


  1. ^ Staff. Richard Hornberger (Obituary), Variety (magazine), November 20, 1997, accessed February 27, 2011. "But in an interview last year with the Peddie News, the student newspaper of his prep secondary school in New Jersey, Hornberger said he couldn't understand why the Robert Altman-directed film and the TV series were assailed for anti-war themes during the Vietnam War."
  2. ^ "H. Richard Hornberger, 73, Surgeon Behind 'M*A*S*H". The New York Times. November 7, 1997.
  3. ^ Literary Encyclopedia
  4. ^ Obituary, Times, 7 November 1997.
  5. ^ Obituary, Times, 7 November 1997.

External links[edit]