Peter Taylor Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

In addition to his short fiction, Peter Taylor published the novels A Woman of Means (1950), A Summons to Memphis (1986), and In the Tennessee Country (1994), as well as plays. Several of his plays were performed at Kenyon College, and three of them have been published separately; a collection of seven dramas was also published in 1973. Taylor was one of three editors of a memorial volume, Randall Jarrell, 1914-1965 (1967).


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

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.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Baumbach, Jonathan. Modern and Contemporaries: New Masters of the Short Story. New York: Random House, 1968. Includes a brief analysis of Taylor’s place in the development of the post-World War II short story.

Graham, Catherine Clark. Southern Accents: The Fiction of Peter Taylor. New York: P. Lang, 1994. An insightful study. Includes bibliographical references.

Griffith, Albert J. Peter Taylor. Rev. ed. Boston: Twayne, 1990. An excellent introductory study.

Kramer, Victor A., Patricia A. Bailey, Carol G. Dana, and Carl H. Griffin. Andrew Lytle, Walker Percy, Peter Taylor: A Reference Guide. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1983. One of the later and most complete bibliographies of Taylor’s work and the reviews and criticism.

McAlexander, Hubert H. Peter Taylor: A Writer’s Life. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2001. A biography written with the close cooperation of its subject. In fact, McAlexander, who edited Conversations with Peter Taylor and a collection of essays on the writer, was hand-picked by Taylor, and his portrait is admiring.

Oates, Joyce Carol. “Realism of Distance, Realism of Immediacy.” The Southern Review 7 (Winter, 1971): 295-313. A novelist’s sensitive appreciation of other writers, including...

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