Featured Author: Erskine Preston Caldwell January 13, 2016 13:24
Erskine Preston Caldwell (December 17, 1903 – April 11, 1987) was an American author. His writings about poverty, racism and social problems in his native South in novels such as Tobacco Road and God's Little Acre won him critical acclaim, but also made him controversial among Southerners of the time who felt he was deprecating the people of the region.
His first and second published works were The Bastard (1929) and Poor Fool (1930) but the works for which he is most famous are his novels Tobacco Road (1932) and God's Little Acre (1933). Maxim Lieber was his literary agent during (parts of) the 1930s and 40s. His first book was banned and copies were seized by authorities. With the publication of God's Little Acre, the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice instigated legal action against him in New York. Caldwell was arrested when he attended a book-signing there but was exonerated in trial.
Through the 1930s Caldwell and his first wife Helen managed a bookstore in Maine. Following their divorce Caldwell married photographer Margaret Bourke-White, collaborating with her on three photo-documentaries: You Have Seen Their Faces (1937), North of the Danube (1939), and Say, Is This The USA (1941) during their three years together from 1939–42. Disillusionment with the anti-revisionist socialist government had led him to compose an eleven-page short story, "Message for Genevieve". published in 1933. In this story, a woman journalist is executed by a firing squad after being tried in a secret court on charges of espionage. During World War II, Caldwell obtained papers from the USSR that allowed him to travel to Ukraine and work as a foreign correspondent documenting the war effort there.