Glenway Wescott, born in Kewaskum, Wisconsin, on April 11, 1901, was a midwesterner by birth and education. He attended public schools in various Wisconsin towns and spent two years (1917-1919) at the University of Chicago. His family had hoped he would enter the ministry, while he entertained some hope of becoming a professional musician. After World War I he spent a year in Germany, then returned to live for a short time in New Mexico. His first book was a volume of poetry, The Bitterns, published in 1920; this was followed by a second book of verse, Natives of Rock, in 1925. His first novel, The Apple of the Eye, was completed during a period of several months that Wescott spent in New York City. Set in rural Wisconsin, the novel relates the conflicts and forces involved in a boy’s search for an understanding of the world and sex, a series of problems similar to those probed by many contemporary novelists, who seemed to be fascinated by the problems of the adolescent in the modern world. After the publication of his novel Wescott went again to Europe, and during the next eight years he was one of a large colony of American writers who lived abroad in the 1920’s.
While in Europe he wrote The Grandmothers, which has received more acclaim from readers and critics than any of his other novels. It earned for Wescott the Harper Prize Novel Award for the year of publication. The novel, a saga of pioneer life in early Wisconsin, unfolds as it appears to Alwyn Tower, a young man who is very much like the author and who comes across an old family photograph album. His curiosity, awakened by the album,...
(The entire section is 673 words.)