Harriette Simpson Arnow

Harriette Simpson Arnow

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Harriette Simpson Arnow (1908-1986)

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hall of honor harriette arnow

Harriette Simpson Arnow was born in Wayne County and raised in Pulaski County, in the town of Burnside, Kentucky. She spent two years at Berea College (1924-1926), but felt that the rules were too rigid. To acquire a few more of the freedoms afforded to women at the time, she transferred to the University of Louisville. Before coming to UofL, Ms. Arnow had few opportunities to share her writing with others. For that reason, Ms, Arnow was especially proud when one of her teachers at UofL encouraged her to apply for membership in Chi Delta Phi, a national literary sorority, and she was accepted.

tom arnow accepts medallion for mother

Tom Arnow accepts the Hall of Honor medallion on behalf of his late mother.

An A&S alumna, Ms. Arnow received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1931. After teaching for two years after graduation, Ms. Arnow moved to Cincinnati at age 26. There in 1934, she began her writing career and published her first short stories. Indicative of the times, in an attempt to be published in Esquire, at one point Ms. Arnow sent in a story under the moniker H. L. Simpson along with a photo of her brother-in-law. The story was published in Esquire in July 1942.

In 1944, Ms. Arnow and her family moved to Detroit, a setting that would act as the inspiration for her best known work The Dollmaker. In 1950 the family made Ann Arbor, Michigan home and Ms. Arnow’s career soared to new levels.

Among her many honors as a writer, Ms. Arnow won the Saturday Review “Best Novel” award for Hunter’s Horn in 1949, beating out George Orwell’s classic 1984. The Dollmaker was runner up for the 1955 National Book Award, second to William Faulkner’s A Fable.


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