Sherwood Anderson

Sherwood Anderson (September 13, 1876March 8, 1941) was an American novelist and short story writer. His work was a major influence on many members of the Lost Generation, including Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner. He is most well known for his story collection Winesburg, Ohio.1

The third of seven children, Anderson was born in Camden, Ohio. His father’s work painting signs and houses caused the family to move often. The time he spent growing up in Clyde, Ohio, would greatly influenced his writing about small-town life. From 1896-1898 he worked in Chicago as a laborer before going on to serve in the Spanish-American War. After attending Wittenberg Academy in Springfield, Ohio, Anderson returned to Chicago and became an advertising writer.2

In 1904, Anderson moved to Elyria, Ohio, where he married Cornelia Lane and served as president of two companies. Being a workaholic, and writing in his free time, led to a strained relationship with his wife and psychological breakdown. On November 28, 1912, at 36 years old, he walked out of his office to start a writing career. Moving back to Chicago, he divorced Cornelia to marry his mistress, Tennessee Mitchell in 1916. That same year his first novel, Windy McPhersons Son was published. His most famous work, the story collection Winesburg, Ohio, came out in 1919, cementing him as a writer of popular fiction.3

Traveling to Europe in 1921, he became part of the ex-pat community in Paris, joining the likes of Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, and Ernest Hemingway. (While a protégé of Anderson, Hemingway’s first novel, The Torrents of Spring, was a parody of his work.) In 1924, he divorced his second wife to marry Elizabeth Prall and moved to New Orleans, where he became friends with the then-unknown William Faulkner. The following year, while on vacation in Virginia, Anderson fell in love with the area and purchased farmland beside Ripshin Creek, where he would build a home that he named Ripshin.4

In 1928, Anderson and Elizabeth separated. He would marry his fourth wife Eleanor Copenhaver, in 1933. While summers were spent at Ripshin the rest of the year saw the two of them travel extensively.

Anderson died of peritonitis caused by swallowing a toothpick, in Colón, Panama, on March 8, 1941. He is buried at Round Hill Cemetery in Marion, Virginia, where his epitaph states, “Life, Not Death, Is the Great Adventure.”5



  • Windy McPherson’s Son (1916)
  • Marching Men (1917)
  • Poor White (1920)
  • Many Marriages (1923)
  • Dark Laughter (1925)
  • Tar: A Midwest Childhood (1926)
  • Beyond Desire (1932)
  • Kit Brandon: A Portrait (1936)

Story collections

  • Winesburg, Ohio (1919)
  • The Triumph of the Egg: A Book of Impressions From American Life in Tales and Poems (1921)
  • Horses and Men (1923)
  • Death in the Woods and Other Stories (1933)


  • Mid-American Chants (1918)
  • A New Testament (1927)


  • A Story Teller’s Story (1922)
  • The Modern Writer (1925)
  • Sherwood Anderson’s Notebook (1926)
  • Alice and The Lost Novel (1929)
  • Hello Towns! (1929)
  • Nearer the Grass Roots (1929)
  • The American County Fair (1930)
  • Perhaps Women (1931)
  • No Swank (1934)
  • Puzzled America (1935)
  • A Writer’s Conception of Realism (1939)
  • Home Town (1940)

See also

External Links


1. “Sherwood Anderson.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed July 22, 2020.
2. “Sherwood Anderson.” Ohio Reading Road Trip. Accessed November 23, 2020.
3. “Sherwood Anderson Biography.” CliffsNotes. Accessed November 23, 2020
4. Dunne, Robert. “Sherwood Anderson (1876–1941).” Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, 28 Oct. 2015. Web. 23 Nov. 2020.
5. “Sherwood Anderson.” Find A Grave. Accessed November 23, 2020.

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