Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Ellen Glasgow (1873-1945) Pulitzer prize winning author

Ellen Glasgow was born in Richmond, Virginia, just 8 years after the American Civil War. Her father, Francis Thomas Glasgow, was a Presbyterian who had been raised in the Shenandoah Valley. Ellen wrote 20 books, winning the Pulitzer prize for her novel In This Our Life. Her autobiography The Woman Within was published posthumously in 1954. She is credited for having ‘helped direct Southern literature away from sentimentality and nostalgia’.

She seems to have had a strained relationship with her old-fashioned father who was the manager of Tredegar Iron Works; the family were members of Second Presbyterian Church in Richmond. It is said that she inherited his ‘iron will and philosophy irrevocably tied to his Calvinistic beliefs’ - it was said that he ‘never committed a pleasure’.

Her Civil War novel Barren Ground (1902) was focussed around Scotch-Irish mountain communities, a setting where this review observes there were no slaves or plantations. She regarded her 1935 novel Vein of Iron as her best work - a story set in rural Presbyterian Virginia about the significantly-named Fincastle family.