Hicks, Granville


The leftist novelist, literary critic, educator and editor on a lesbian novel and a lesbian novelist



Autograph ID: 6979
Condition: Very good
Description: “(1901-1982) American Marxist and later anti-Marxist novelist, literary critic, educator, and editor. He earned a Harvard AB & MA and taught at Smith College 1925-28 as an instructor in biblical literature. He was an assistant professor of English at RPA 1929-35 and a counselor in American civilization at Harvard 1938-39. Hicks was a highly influential Marxist literary critic during the 1930s, well known for his involvement in a number of celebrated causes (incl. his well-publicized 1939 resignation from the Communist Party). He established his reputation as an important literary critic with the publication of “The Great Tradition: An Interpretation of American Literature since the Civil War” (1933), a systematic history of American literature from a Marxist perspective. In 1932 he voted for the Communist Party ticket and joined almost all significant 1930s Communist front groups. In 1934 he joined the Party itself and became editor of its cultural magazine, The New Masses. In 1936 Hicks was asked to co-write “John Reed: The Making of a Revolutionary”, a biography of radical journalist John Reed. Party chairman Earl Browder pressured Hicks to remove several passages that reflected negatively on the USSR, but in the end the book was praised for its even-handed and unbiased presentation. In 1939, in protest against the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact, he resigned from the Communist Party. By 1940 he had entirely renounced Communism and termed himself a democratic socialist; that same year he wrote an essay, “The Blind Alley of Marxism” for The Nation. During the 1950s Hicks testified twice before the House Un-American Activities Committee. His seminal work, “Small Town”, based on his experiences in Grafton, New York, was published in 1946. He taught novel writing 1955-58 at the New School for Social Research and was a visiting professor at NYU (1959), Syracuse University (1960), and Ohio University 1967-68. He was director of the Yaddo artists’ community beginning in 1942 and later was its acting executive director. He was literary advisor to Macmillan Publishers 1930-65. In addition to his books, Hicks wrote a number of articles for various publications including American Mercury, Harper’s, New Republic, Esquire, and Nation. He also wrote the introduction to John Reed’s “Ten Days That Shook the World” (New York: Modern Library, 1935). He wrote his autobiography, “Part of the Truth” (1965) and 4 works of fiction: “The First to Awaken”, 1940; “Only One Storm” (1942); “Behold Trouble) (1944); and, “There was a Man in our Town” (1952).

TLS on 8 ½ x 5 ½ personal letterhead, Grafton, New York, March 20 1969, to Ralph Block, Washington. Hicks writes that “Dusty Answers” deals “delicately as I remember” with lesbianism and created “much less of a commotion” than Radclyffe Hall’s “The Well of Loneliness” which appeared the next year. He says that Lehmann wrote other novels and he best remembers “The Weather in the Streets”, noting that Lehmann is still alive and believes she recently published a memoir. With envelope.

RALPH J. BLOCK (1889-1974) was an American film producer in the 1920s and became a full-time screenwriter in 1930. He is famous for being President of the Screen Writers Guild 1934-35. In 1940 he received an Honorary Academy Award for his dedicated work for the Motion Picture Relief Fund. ROSAMOND LEHMANN CBE (1901-1990) English novelist and translator. Her 1st novel, “Dusty Answer” (1927) was a scandalous success; she soon became established in the literary world and intimate with members of the Bloomsbury Set. Her novel “The Ballad and the Source” received particular critical acclaim. In “Dusty Answer”, the heroine interacts with fairly openly gay and lesbian characters during her years at Cambridge. Her novels include “The Weather in the Streets” (1936), made into a 1983 film. She was appointed a CBE in 1982.

MARGUERITE RADCLYFFE HALL (1880-1943) English poet and author best known for her novel “The Well of Loneliness” (1928), a groundbreaking work in lesbian literature, the only one of her 8 novels to have overt lesbian themes. Although not sexually explicit, it was the subject of a UK obscenity trial which resulted in all copies of the novel ordered destroyed. The US allowed its publication only after a long court battle. ”
Type: Letter

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