Tar: A Midwest Childhood

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Tar: A Midwest Childhood
Tar A Midwest Childhood Cover.jpg
AuthorSherwood Anderson
CountryUnited States
PublisherBoni & Liveright, New York
Publication date
20 November 1926
Media typePrint (hardback)

Tar: A Midwest Childhood is a 1926 fictionalized memoir by American author Sherwood Anderson. It was originally published by Boni & Liveright and has since been republished several times including a 1969 critical edition.[1] The book is made up of episodes in the childhood of Edgar Moorehead (nicknamed Tar-heel, or Tar, because of his father's North Carolina origin). The fictional location of Tar: A Midwest Childhood bears a resemblance to Camden, Ohio where Sherwood Anderson was born, despite him having spent only his first year there.[2] An episode from the book later appeared, in a revised form, as the short story "Death in the Woods" (1933).[3]

Composition and publication[edit]

According to Sherwood Anderson scholar Ray Lewis White, it was 1919 when the author first mentioned in a letter to his publisher at the time, B.W. Huebsch, that he was interested in composing a series of stories based on "...country life at the edge of a middle-western small town."[4] Nothing came of the idea, however, until around February 1925, when the popular monthly magazine The Woman's Home Companion expressed interest.[4] Over that year, including the summer during which Anderson boarded with a family in Troutdale, Virginia and wrote in a log cabin, Tar: A Midwest Childhood was drafted.[5] Though progress on the book was slower than expected over the summer, Anderson reported to his agent Otto Liveright in September 1925, that roughly two-thirds of the book was finished. This was enough that in February 1926, the installments for The Woman's Home Companian were sent off.[6] They were published in the following order:

Story Title Volume and Publication Date[6]
"Tar Moorhead's Father" LIII (June, 1926) pgs. 19-20, 154-55
"A Small Boy Looks at His World" LIII (July, 1926) pgs. 19-20, 42, 45
"Worlds of Fancy and of Facts" LIII (September, 1926) pgs. 27-28, 79
"Tar's Day of Bravery" LIII (October, 1926) pgs. 25-26, 184-185
"Tar's Wonderful Sunday" LIII (November, 1926) pgs. 29-30, 50
"What Makes a Boy Afraid" LIV (January, 1927) pgs. 19-20, 96

That initial task done, Anderson set to finish the rest of the book, sending the completed manuscript to Boni & Liveright in June or July 1926.[6] By September of that year, proofs mailed to Anderson by his publisher were returned with corrections and, by the beginning of November, bound copies of Tar: A Midwest Childhood were posted to the author. The book was released on November 20, 1926.[7] The book has also been published under the title " A Story Teller's Story, Tar: A Midwest Childhood".[8]


  1. ^ See White (1969)
  2. ^ Rideout (2006), 16
  3. ^ Burbank (1964), 126-127
  4. ^ a b White (1969), xii
  5. ^ White (1969), xiii
  6. ^ a b c White (1969), xiv
  7. ^ White (1969), xv
  8. ^ Stouck,David."Sherwood Anderson and the Postmodern Novel."Contemporary Literature26.3(Fall 1985):302-316.Rpt.in Literature Resource Center.Detroit:Gale,2015. Literature Resource Center. Web 7. Apr.2015.


  • Burbank, Rex J. (1964). Twayne's United States Authors Series 65: Sherwood Anderson. New York: Twayne.
  • Rideout, Walter B. (2006). Sherwood Anderson: A Writer in America, Volume 1. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 978-0-299-21530-9
  • White, Ray Lewis (1969). "Introduction". In Anderson, Sherwood. Tar: A Midwest Childhood. Cleveland, OH: Case Western Reserve University. ISBN 0-8295-0159-2

External links[edit]