Ellen Glasgow

Franklin Library Ellen Glasgow books

In This Our Life - Library of Pulitzer Prize Classics - 1976


Author Ellen Glasgow

Ellen Anderson Gholson Glasgow, born on April 22, 1873, in Richmond, Virginia, was an American novelist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author known for her insightful explorations of the social and cultural changes in the American South during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Growing up in a prominent Virginia family, Glasgow was exposed to the complexities of Southern society and the challenges faced by women in that era. She began writing at a young age, with her first novel, "The Descendant," published when she was just 24 years old in 1897. However, it was her fifth novel, The Wheel of Life (1906), that garnered widespread attention and established her reputation as a writer.

Glasgow's novels often delved into the evolving dynamics of the South, tackling issues such as class, gender roles, and racial tensions. Her works displayed a keen understanding of the intricacies of Southern culture and an insightful examination of the changing social landscape. "Virginia" (1913), one of her most celebrated novels, explored the life of a Southern woman caught between tradition and the changing times. In 1942, Ellen Glasgow was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her novel In This Our Life (1941). The novel, adapted into a film in 1942, delves into the complexities of racial injustice, family dynamics, and the moral choices faced by its characters.

Throughout her career, Glasgow authored a total of 20 novels, as well as numerous short stories and essays. Her writing evolved over time, reflecting her own intellectual growth and changing perspectives. Her later works, such as Barren Ground (1925) and The Sheltered Life (1932), continued to explore themes of social change and the impact of modernity on traditional Southern values.

In addition to her literary achievements, Glasgow was known for her strong-willed personality and commitment to social reform. She championed women's rights, education, and various social causes. Glasgow's contributions to American literature and her insightful commentary on Southern culture earned her a lasting place in literary history. Ellen Glasgow passed away on November 21, 1945, leaving behind a body of work that continues to be studied and appreciated for its nuanced portrayal of the American South during a period of significant transformation. Her legacy as a pioneering Southern writer endures, and her novels remain valuable contributions to the exploration of Southern identity and the complexities of the human condition.


In This Our Life

This novel is an analytical study of the feeling of kinship as it is manifested in the Timberlake family, decayed aristocrats living in a southern city. The story of how two marriages are wrecked and a great wrong done to an innocent Negro boy, is told largely as it is viewed by Asa Timberlake, sixty years of age, husband of a hypochondriac wife, father of two daughters, one utterly selfish and feminine, the other courageous and gailant but confused and unhappy.

In this Our Life is a novel of major importance. It tells the four-stories-in-one of the Timberlake family:

Of Lavinia, the mother, bedridden and domineering, who tried to control the lives of everyone about her...

Of Asa, her husband, who hoped for happiness with another woman...

Of Stanley, their lovely, willful daughter, who had a taste for exciting men and a talent for destroying them...

Of Roy, the older daughter, who believed in kindness and charity towards others,but could not cope with her own torment.

Around these four characters Ellen Glasgow has woven a majestic, richly diverse picture of the South its aristocracy and poverty, its calm and violence, its pride and shame.

This is a fascinating work and it eventually became a Hollywood movie starring Bette Davies. Many of the earliest books, particularly those dating back to the 1900s and before, are now extremely scarce.

Pulitzer Prize winning Novel in 1942.


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