Sherwood Anderson was an American writer born in Camden, Ohio, in 1876. After a childhood characterized by a succession of geographical moves, he settled in Chicago and became part of a literary group which included such august authors as Theodore Dreiser, Carl Sandburg, and Ben Hecht. Anderson published his first novel in 1916, but is was not until 1919 that he became recognized as a significant voice in literature with the publication of Winesburg, Ohio. In this book, which is a "loosely structured series of episodes dealing with life and character in a small, Midwestern town," Anderson pioneered an innovative form of writing which was much admired by a number of twentieth century writers, including Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner. Anderson was among the first writers to explore the inner psyches of his characters, gently capturing the realities of their secret longings. He called his characters "grotesques," and in presenting them, pinpointed the essence of the human condition, in which the individual, because of some flaw within his makeup, lives in isolation, longing for, but prevented from, establishing connection with the others around him.
William Saroyan, who, during the 1930s and 1940s, was "one of the best-known, most critically admired, and most popular American writers," was another author who was much influenced by Sherwood Anderson. His popular play, The Time of Your Life, is peopled with eccentric characters similar to those in Winesburg, Ohio, and in My Name is Aram, he uses the loose short story collection format pioneered in Anderson's signature work to create a sense of time and place in relating the story of his own growing up.