T.S. Stribling

A Life of the Tennessee Novelist

  • Author(s): Vickers, Kenneth W.
  • Series:
  • Imprint: Univ Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 2003-12-09
  • Status: Active
  • Available in Hardcover - Cloth: Price $38.00 | Buy Now

“Building on previous scholarship, and drawing on fresh sources, Dr. Vickers’ biography of T. S. Stribling makes accessible one of the most important, and hitherto neglected, figures in our national literature. The reader will find that here, at last, is a Stribling biography anchored in fact and uncluttered by personal bias.” —Howard Bahr, Author, The Black Flower: A Novel of the Civil War

“Kenneth Vickers has produced a remarkable book, one long overdue. I know of no other work that even approaches its thoroughness and accuracy. The author has captured the essence of T. S. Stribling: his motivations, his biases, his humor, his contributions to the American literary canon. And he has done so with the skill and grace and precision of a gifted writer.” —Randy K. Cross, Editor, Laughing Stock: The Posthumous Autobiography of T. S. Stribling

A pioneer figure in the Southern Renaissance, Thomas Sigismund Stribling (1881–1965) was the first Tennessean to receive the Pulitzer Prize for literature (for his 1932 novel, The Store). Yet because his work defied easy categorization, it has not received the lasting appreciation it deserves.

In this biography, Kenneth W. Vickers provides the first book-length evaluation of Stribling and his legacy. Vickers explores the many faces of T. S. Stribling—the storyteller, the historian, the philosopher, the humanitarian—providing a detailed account of the prolific writer’s life from his youth in Clifton, Tennessee, and Gravelly Springs, Alabama, through his marriage and adulthood to his death in a Florence, Alabama, nursing home. This account shows how the various aspects of his life contributed to the making of the man the Boston Evening Transcript would call “the Novelist of the South.”

Stribling’s work ranged from southern literary fiction to detective stories, from religious and moral tales to science fiction and adventure. He often wrote about strong social issues that affected America during the first half of the twentieth century. In Birthright, for example, he demonstrates the ways the system of Jim Crow segregation kept African Americans from achieving racial and social equality, while Teeftallow and Bright Metal detail the stagnation of closed-mindedness and poor white mentality in a rural community. And Stribling’s literary trilogy, which includes The Forge, The Store, and Unfinished Cathedral, concentrates on the destructive influence of rampant materialism upon a southern family and community. Between novels, Stribling wrote numerous short stories for such diverse publications as Adventure, Saturday Evening Post, and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, for which he penned a popular series featuring Dr. Henry Poggioli, a psychologist and amateur detective who often solved the case just a little too late.

Vickers’s long overdue biography places T. S. Stribling firmly in the vanguard of the Southern Renaissance, asserting his importance as a precursor to those who followed him in southern letters—notably Thomas Wolfe and William Faulkner.

Kenneth W. Vickers is assistant professor of history at the Mississippi University for Women.