Author: Erika Howsare

a writer and editor living near Charlottesville, Virginia

Eleanor Ross Taylor (1920–2011)

Eleanor Ross Taylor was a poet, short-fiction author, and literary critic. An award-winning writer, she was born in North Carolina but has spent the last several decades working and publishing from her homes in Gainesville, Florida, and Charlottesville, Virginia. Widow of the noted short-fiction author and novelist Peter Taylor (1917–1994), Taylor is associated with a literary circle that includes figures such as Randall Jarrell, Robert Lowell, and Robert Penn Warren. She died in 2011.



Shenandoah is a literary journal published three times a year by Washington and Lee University in Lexington. Founded in 1950 by J. J. Donovan, D. C. G. Kerry, and Tom Wolfe, the journal publishes fiction, poetry, essays, and reviews. Although originally conceived as a forum for undergraduate work, the magazine soon began to publish regional, national, and international writers, traditionally featuring unknown authors alongside such literary heavyweights as James Dickey, Ezra Pound, e.e. cummings, W. H. Auden, Flannery O’Connor, and William Faulkner. The journal has a subscriber list of approximately 1,800. In 2008, Shenandoah was awarded the Governor’s Award for the Arts by Virginia governor Tim Kaine.


John Dos Passos (1896–1970)

John Dos Passos was a novelist, poet, critic, and painter whose mother was born in Virginia. He came of age traveling through Europe and, after graduating from Harvard University in 1916, served as an ambulance driver during World War I (1914–1918). Amid the destruction of Victorian Europe, Dos Passos developed left-leaning politics that set him against war and in support of workers’ rights. As a modernist writer, he became connected with the so-called Lost Generation of F. Scott Fitzgerald, his Harvard classmate E. E. Cummings, and his longtime friend Ernest Hemingway. Dos Passos is most recognized for his three novels known as the U.S.A. trilogy (1930–1936), which critique American culture from the left. In the 1940s, however, when Dos Passos moved to a farm on the Northern Neck in Westmoreland County, Virginia, his politics turned sharply to the right, ending his relationship with Hemingway and deeply affecting his legacy among critics. Dos Passos, who died in 1970, is buried in Westmoreland County and his papers are at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. The John Dos Passos Prize for Literature has been awarded since 1980 by Longwood University in Farmville.


Willa Cather (1873–1947)

Willa Cather was a Virginia-born modernist writer who is best known for O Pioneers! (1913) and My Ántonia (1918), two novels about Nebraska, where she attended school and spent much of her childhood. Her re-creation of what is now the Midwest is rooted in her own family’s experience moving west from the Shenandoah Valley in 1883, and her writing is preoccupied with the larger American experiment of uprooting and then re-establishing civilization. Cather won the Pulitzer Prize in 1923 for her novel One of Ours, about a Nebraska farmer’s son, but her settings are not limited to the Great Plains. Cather wrote memorably about New York City, where she worked as a writer and as managing editor for McClure’s magazine. Her masterpiece, Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927), is set in both New Mexico and France. And her final novel, Sapphira and the Slave Girl (1940), takes place around her native Winchester, Virginia. Sapphira is considered to be in part autobiographical—the novel’s slave-owning family and their abolitionist daughter were all based on Cather’s maternal relatives—and her writing required a return to Virginia near the end of her life.


Ben Belitt (1911–2003)

Ben Belitt was an American poet and translator born in New York City and educated at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He was a professor of comparative literature for fifty years at Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont. In his long life, he published eight books of poems, two books of essays, and numerous translations, notably of the Spanish-language poets Jorge Luis Borges, Federico García Lorca, and Pablo Neruda. This Scribe, My Hand, his complete poems, was published in 1998. Belitt’s reputation is that of a vital and gifted poet who was somewhat under-recognized in comparison to his peers.


Robert Bausch (1945–2018)

Robert Bausch was a novelist and short-story writer who earned particular notice for A Hole in the Earth (a New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 2001) and for Almighty Me! (1991). Though he said that his childhood was happy and stable, his work often investigated family relationships that were painful, strained, or flawed. Born at Fort Benning, Georgia, and raised near Washington, D.C., Bausch taught writing at a number of colleges and universities, including at Northern Virginia Community College near Washington, D.C. His identical twin brother is the novelist Richard Bausch.