|Born||Robert Emmett Cantwell
January 31, 1908
Little Falls (now Vader), Washington
|Died||December 8, 1978
New York City
|Notable work||The Land of Plenty (1934)|
|Spouse(s)||Mary Elizabeth Chambers|
|Children||Joan McNiece Cantwell, Betsy Ann Cantwell, and Mary Elizabeth Emmett Cantwell|
|Parent(s)||Charles James Cantwell, Nina Adelia Hanson|
Robert Emmett Cantwell (January 31, 1908 – December 8, 1978) was a novelist and critic. His most notable work, The Land of Plenty, focuses on a lumber mill in a thinly disguised version of his hometown in Washington State.
In 1929, after selling a short story to The American Caravan, he moved to New York City, where he started work on his first novel, Laugh and Lie Down (1931). From 1930 to 1935 he wrote a second novel, The Land of Plenty (1934) and began work on a biography of Bostonian E. A. Filene, in collaboration with Lincoln Steffens. This work was never completed.
From 1949 to 1954 he worked as the literary editor of Newsweek. In 1954, he took up freelancing again until 1956 when he began an association with Sports Illustrated. He worked for the magazine from 1956 until his death in 1978. He worked on a number of articles, three of which became books: Alexander Wilson: Naturalist and Pioneer (1961), The Real McCoy (1971), and The Hidden Northwest (1972). Subjects of his articles include chess, ornithology, sports in the movies and literary figures in sports.
Personal life and death
Cantwell married Mary Elizabeth Chambers, a teacher, on February 2, 1931. They had three children: Joan McNiece (Mrs. George Stolz, Jr.), Betsy Ann (Mrs. Walter Pusey III), and Mary Elizabeth Emmett (Mrs. Lars-Erik Nelson).
In his obituary, Sports Illustrated wrote:
Bob Cantwell was with us during the last 22 years of his life, in which he wrote dozens of memorable articles, among them a portrayal of Cecil Smith, the Texas cowboy who became perhaps the greatest polo player the world has ever seen. When Cantwell wrote of Banjo Paterson, the virtually unknown author of Waltzing Matilda, he made sure that a colorful footnote to history was not going to be lost, at least not to SI readers. As he once said, "History is a natural resource, just as much as fossil fuel. It's what is there. We should not ignore it." Bob Cantwell was a unique intellectual resource and a friend. We shall miss him.
Cantwell's correspondence includes: James T. Farrell, John Dos Passos, Van Wyck Brooks, Erskine Caldwell, Malcolm Cowley, Henry Luce, Clare Luce Booth, Marianne Moore, T. S. Matthews, and Edmund Wilson.
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote of Cantwell's first short story, "Hanging by My Thumbs": "Mark it well, for my guess is that he's learned a better lesson from Proust than Thornton Wilder did and has a destiny of no mean star."
Cantwell helped get Whittaker Chambers a job at TIME magazine, as Chambers recounted in his memoirs:
The morning mail brought a letter from my friend, Robert Cantwell, the author of Laugh and Lie Down, and later, the biographer of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Cantwell was then one of the editors of Time magazine... But his letter... urged me to go to New York at once. As sometimes happens at Time, several jobs were suddenly open. Cantwell thought that I might get one of them... Cantwell thought I should try for a book reviewer's job. I wrote several trial reviews. A few days later, Time hired me.
Chambers had used the alias "Lloyd Cantwell" during his time in the Soviet underground, including the formation of the American Feature Writers Syndicate with comrade John Loomis Sherman (using the alias Charles Francis Chase) and literary agent Maxim Lieber.
- Laugh and Lie Down (1931)
- Land of Plenty (1934, 1971)
- Nathaniel Hawthorne: The American Years (1948)
- American Men of Letters, illustrated by Gerald McCann (1956)
- Alexander Wilson: Naturalist and Pioneer: A Biography, decorated by Robert Ball (1961)
- Real McCoy: The Life and Times of Norman Selby (1971)
- Hidden Northwest (1972)
- Charterhouse of Parma, by Marie-Henri Beyle (Stendhal, translated by Lady Mary Loyd, revised by Robert Cantwell, preface by Honoré de Balzac, illustrated by Rafaello Busoni (1955)
- Far from the Madding Crowd, by Thomas Hardy, introduced by Robert Cantwell, engraved by Agnes Miller Parker (1958)
- Biography of E. A. Filene with Lincoln Steffens (1934)
- Autobiography of James B. McNamara, convicted labor dynamiter
- Small Boston, projected novel from the early 1970s
- The FBI, privacy, and Cantwell’s involvement with politics and Whittaker Chambers
- Four Novelists on William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, James T. Farrell and Erskine Caldwell
- Lewis, Merrill (1985). Robert Cantwell. Boise State University. ISBN 0-88430-044-7
- Seyersted, Per (2004). Robert Cantwell: An American 1930s Radical Writer and His Apostasy. Novus Press. ISBN 82-7099-397-2
- "Literary Editor And Writer at 2 Magazines". Washington Post. 1978-12-10. p. B12.
- Agapito, Aggie; Kihunrwa, Aika-Maria (c. 2004). "Guide to the Robert Cantwell Papers 1926−1978". NWDA (Northwest Digital Archives). Retrieved May 24, 2010.
- "Robert E. Cantwell, 70, A Journalist and Author Robert Emmett Cantwell". new york times.com. New York Time. 10 December 1978. p. 44. Retrieved 2014-09-30. (subscription required (. ))
- Sutton, Kelso F. (18 December 1978). "Letter From The Publisher". Sports Illustrated.
- Baker, ed., Carlos (1981). Ernest Hemingway, Selected Letters, 1917−1961. Charles Scribner's Sons. p. 709. ISBN 0-684-16765-4.
- Chambers, Whittaker (1952). Witness. New York: Random House. pp. 85–86 (Robert Cantwell), 365–366 (Lloyd Cantwell).