Vincent Sheean

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Vincent Sheean in 1958

James Vincent Sheean (December 5, 1899, Pana, Illinois – March 16, 1975,[1] Arolo, Frz. of Leggiuno, Italy) was an American journalist and novelist.


Sheean's most famous work was Personal History (New York: Doubleday, 1935). It won one of the inaugural National Book Awards: the Most Distinguished Biography of 1935.[2][3][a] Film producer Walter Wanger acquired the political memoir and made it the basis for his 1940 film production Foreign Correspondent, directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Sheean served as a reporter for the New York Herald Tribune during the Spanish Civil War.[4]

Sheean wrote the narration for the feature-length documentary Crisis (1939) directed by Alexander Hammid and Herbert Kline. He translated Ève Curie's biography of her mother, Madame Curie (1939), into English. Sheean wrote Oscar Hammerstein I: Life and Exploits of an Impresario (1955) as well as a controversial biography of Dorothy Thompson and Sinclair Lewis, Dorothy and Red (1963).

He studied at the University of Chicago, becoming part of a literary circle which included Glenway Wescott, Yvor Winters, Elizabeth Madox Roberts and Janet Lewis while he was there.[5]

Vincent and Diana Forbes-Robertson Sheean were friends of Edna St. Vincent Millay and her husband, Eugen; they spent time together on Ragged Island off the coast of Maine during the summer of 1945.


Partial list

  • New Persia (1927) - Iran
  • Anatomy of Virtue - (1927) - Psychological romance novel of an American girl who marries an English nobleman.
  • American Among the Riffi (1926)
  • Gog and Magog
  • The Tide (1933) - "If a Messiah Came to Your Town Today, What Would You Think? What Would You Do?".
  • Personal History: Youth and Revolution: the Story of One Person's Relationship to Living History (1935)
  • Sanfelice (1936) - Historical novel set in Naples
  • The Pieces of a Fan (1937)
  • A Day of Battle (1938) - Historical novel based on the French victory at Fontenoy in Flanders on May 11, 1745
  • Not Peace but a Sword (1939) - Europe. Personal account of events in Prague, Madrid, London, Paris and Berlin during the 12 fateful months between March 1938 and March 1939.[6]
  • Lead, Kindly Light: Gandhi & the Way to Peace, Random House (1949). Can Gandhi's non-violent approach lead the world away from violence as the way to settle disputes?
  • Between the Thunder and the Sun (1943) Account of being in England during the Battle of Britain.


  1. ^ Biography was separately recognized in 1935 and 1936, then subsumed in general Nonfiction.


  1. ^ Vincent Sheean Dies; Author, Traveler (The Washington Post pay per view)
  2. ^ "Books and Authors", The New York Times, 1936-04-12, page BR12. ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851-2007).
  3. ^ "Lewis is Scornful of Radio Culture: ...", The New York Times, 1936-05-12, page 25. ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851-2007).
  4. ^ Cecil Eby, Between the Bullet and the Lie: American Volunteers and the Spanish Civil War (New York: Holt, Rineheart and Winston, 1969), p. 237
  5. ^
  6. ^ Book list from first edition of "Not Peace but a Sword"

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