The publication of The Collected Stories of Peter Taylor brought general acknowledgment that he was one of the most skillful practitioners of the modern short story in the United States. While his reputation prior to that volume had for the most part been limited to a fairly small circle of enthusiastic readers, the list of his awards indicates the respect in which he was always held by his peers. Taylor was honored twelve different times by inclusion in the annual volume of The Best American Short Stories and was included six times in the O. Henry Award Stories.
He was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (1950), a National Institute of Arts and Letters grant (1952), a Fulbright Fellowship (1955), first prize from the O. Henry Memorial Awards (1959), an Ohioana Book Award (1960), a Ford Foundation Fellowship (1961), a Rockefeller Foundation grant (1964), second prize from the Partisan Review-Dial and a National Institute of Arts and Letters gold medal (1979), a Ritz Paris Hemingway Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award (1986), and a Pulitzer Prize (1987).
While acknowledging his admiration for the work of Anton Chekhov, Ivan Turgenev, and Henry James, Taylor has put his own unique mark on the short story. Much of his fiction is set in the South, recalling the work of William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor, but he is less concerned with violence and moral themes than either of those writers, concentrating instead on social relationships and the inevitability of betrayal in the interactions between men and women.