Today is a big day here at Buckeyemuse. In addition to being the first day of the month when spring arrives in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s also William Dean Howells’ birthday. Howells is one of the most important of Ohio’s literary lights. Novelist, editor, poet, short story writer, dramatist, promoter of realism in literature, Howells occupies an important place in American writing. A profile of him will be on the site this month–and I’m still working on Erma Bombeck and Toni Morrison as well!
Another thing about Howells–he wrote a lot about his time here in Ohio, especially in a number of memoirs, and the northwestern Ohio gas boom of the 19th century also figures in one of his novels–A Hazard of New Fortunes. He also wrote a novel late in his life called The Leatherwood God based on a real-life eccentric religious figure who was active in Ohio during the 1820s. Howells lived not only in Martin’s Ferry, but also Dayton, Hamilton, Cincinnati, Columbus, Jefferson, and rural Greene County.
I would also like to recognize another important birthday. Today is the centenary of the birth of Ralph Ellison, one of the most powerful American writers of the 20th century. His novel Invisible Man is one of the masterworks of American literature.