Wright Morris

Wright Morris
Wright Morris

Wright Marion Morris (January 6, 1910 – April 25, 1998) was an American novelist, photographer, and essayist. He is known for his portrayals of the people and artifacts of the Great Plains in words and pictures, as well as for experimenting with narrative forms. Wright Morris died April 25, 1998 at the age of 88 years. He is buried in the Chapman Cemetery. [1]


Early life

Morris was born in Central City, Nebraska; his boyhood home is on the National Register of Historic Places.[2] His mother, Grace Osborn Morris, died six days after he was born. His father, William Henry Morris, worked for the Union Pacific Railroad. After Grace's death, Wright was cared for by a nanny, until his father made a trip to Omaha and returned with a young wife, Gertrude. In Will's Boy, Morris states, "Gertrude was closer to my age than to my father's".[3] Gertrude hated small-town life, but got along famously with Wright, as they shared many of the same childish tastes (both loved games, movies, and ice cream). In 1919, the family moved to Omaha, where they resided until 1924.

During that interlude, Morris spent two summers on his uncle's farm near Norfolk, Nebraska. [4] Photographs of the farm, as well as the real-life characters of Uncle Harry and Aunt Clara, appear in Morris's books.


Selected works

  • My Uncle Dudley (1942)
  • The Man Who Was There (1945)
  • The Inhabitants (photo-text) (1946)
  • The Home Place (photo-text) (1948)
  • The World in the Attic (1949)
  • Man and Boy (1951)
  • The Works of Love (1952)
  • The Deep Sleep (1953)
  • The Huge Season (1954) (National Book Award finalist)
  • The Field of Vision (1956) (National Book Award winner)
  • Love Among the Cannibals (1957) (National Book Award finalist)
  • Ceremony in Lone Tree (1960) (National Book Award finalist)
  • One Day 1965)
  • A Bill of Rites, a Bill of Wrongs, a Bill of Goods (essays) (1968)
  • God's Country and My People (photo-text) (1968)
  • In Orbit (1971)
  • Fire Sermon (1971)
  • A Life (1973)
  • "Template:Real Losses, Imaginary Gains" (Short Stories) (1976)
  • The Fork River Space Project (1977)
  • Plains Song: For Female Voices (1980) (National Book Award winner)
  • Will's Boy (1981)
  • "Victrola" (1982) (short story in The New Yorker; O. Henry Award third prize)[5]
  • Solo (1983)
  • A Cloak of Light (1985)
  • "Glimpse Into Another Country" (1985) (short story in The New Yorker; O. Henry Award)[5]
  • Time Pieces: Photographs, Writing, and Memory (1989)

Awards and honors

In addition to the National Book Awards for The Field of Vision and Plains Song,[6] Morris received numerous other honors. He was granted Guggenheim Fellowships[7] in 1942, 1946, and 1954. In 1975, he won the Mari Sandoz Award recognizing "significant, enduring contribution to the Nebraska book world".[8] In 1979, he received the Western Literature Association's Distinguished Achievement Award. In 1981, he won the Los Angeles Times' Book Prize Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement.[9] In 1982, a jury of Modern Language Association members selected him for the Common Wealth Award for distinguished service in literature.[10] In 1986, he was honored with a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.[11]


The full archive of Wright Morris photographs is located at the Center for Creative Photography (CCP) at the University of Arizona in Tucson, which also manages the copyright of these photographs.[12]

The Lincoln City Libraries of Lincoln, NE, houses some Morris correspondence and taped interviews in The Gale E. Christianson Collection of Eiseley Research Materials and The Wright Morris-Victor Musselman Correspondence collection.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries houses a collection of Wright Morris papers, including material donated by Josephine Morris (1927-2002), widow of Wright Morris.


  1. ^ http://www.wrightmorris.org/who_is/who_is.html
  2. ^ "Nebraska National Register Sites in Merrick County". Nebraska State Historical Society. Retrieved 2009-11-06.
  3. ^ Morris, Wright (1981). Will's Boy. New York: Harper & Row. 
  4. ^ "Wright Morris Biography". Center for Great Plains Studies. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. http://www.unl.edu/plains/publications/resource/morris.shtml. Retrieved 2007-03-15. 
  5. ^ a b "The O. Henry Prize Stories". Random House Publishing. http://www.randomhouse.com/anchor/ohenry/winners/past.html. Retrieved 2007-03-15. 
  6. ^ "National Book Foundation". Archived from the original on 2007-03-14. http://web.archive.org/web/20070314181140/http://www.nationalbook.org/nbawinners.html. Retrieved 2007-03-15. 
  7. ^ "John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation". Archived from the original on 2007-02-05. http://web.archive.org/web/20070205012934/http://www.gf.org/fellist.html. Retrieved 2007-03-15. 
  8. ^ "Nebraska Library Association Handbook". http://www.nebraskalibraries.org/awards.html. Retrieved 2007-03-15. 
  9. ^ "Los Angeles Times Book Prizes". http://www.latimes.com/extras/bookprizes/winners.html. Retrieved 2007-03-15. 
  10. ^ "Wright Morris Honored on Service in Literature". NY Times. 1982-10-03. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D03E0DA1F38F930A35753C1A964948260. Retrieved 2007-03-15. 
  11. ^ "National Endowment for the Arts". http://www.nea.gov/about/Facts/Litfellows.html. Retrieved 2007-03-15. 
  12. ^ http://www.creativephotography.org/documents/CCP_WM.pdf CCP's "Conditions for Publication of Photographs by Wright Morris" (PDF file)

External links

Further reading

  • Howard, Leon (1968). Wright Morris. University of Minnesota pamphlets on American writers. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. OCLC 170184. 
  • Morris, Wright (1991). "The Art of Fiction No. 125". The Paris Review 120 (Fall). 

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