Nebraska Authors

Wright Morris

Born 1910-01-06 Central City, NE (USA)

Died 1998-04-25
Mill Valley, CA (USA)

Chapman Cemetery
Image of Wright Morris

Image of Wright Morris

Morris received critical acclaim for his literary work, and many awards, but never achieved the broader kind of fame that would be expected to go with the level of critical interest he received.

Morris traveled extensively through Europe during the early 1930's. He had a major photographic retrospective 'Wright Morris: Origin of a Species' at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He wrote in many different genres and is sometimes credited with the invention of a new genre in his "Photo-Texts." Literary critics sometimes compare him to Sherwood Anderson and Sinclair Lewis; Willa Cather evinced a similar strong sense of place but her writing style was more traditional. He has also been compared to Louise Erdrich, in aspects of his writing style and sense of place.

By chance, in the 1945, Wright Morris and his first wife and Loren Eiseley and his wife Mabel lived in the same apartment building near the University of Pennsylvania, and the two men became friends.

Heritage Room collections at Lincoln City Libraries include page proofs, some corrected manuscript pages, the Wright Morris-Victor Musselman Correspondence, Wright Morris-Gale Christianson letters in our Christianson-Eiseley collection, galley proofs for About Fiction, and A Life. Correspondence between Jane Geske and Wright's widow about the appraisal and sale of his book collection are in our vertical files. See also Magazines in gray flat archival box, Heritage Room office. There are signed materials, e.g. the pamphlet The Writing of My Uncle Dudley in the Wright vertical files, and many additional magazines.

There are two major collections of Wright Morris materials. The University of California, Berkeley's Bancroft Library has 22 linear feet of materials dated 1934-1980, and there is an on-line finding aid. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Archives & Special Collections has many linear feet of manuscripts, letters and other archival materials. For details, please contact the Archives as the finding aid for the main collection is not yet public. UNL also holds Wright Morris's heavily annotated personal library.

Many of Morris's books were autobiographical:
Wright Morris, Solo: An American Dreamer in Europe 1933-1934. 1983. In HR
Wright Morris, Writing My Life: An Autobiography(First published as "A Cloak of Light"), 1985, 1993. In HR

There are several biographies, among them:
Jackson J. Benson, Haunted: The Strange and Profound Art of Wright Morris. 2013. In HR
David Madden, Wright Morris. 1964. In HR


Places Lived

Central City, NE
Omaha, NE
Chicago, IL
Mill Valley, CA

Author Of

  • Fiction
  • Visual Work
  • Nonfiction


Literary Fiction; Criticism; Photography


Pomona College, 1933


Guest Lecturer

Places Worked

San Francisco State University, 1962-1975


Guggenheim Fellowship, 1942, 1946, and 1954
National Book Award, 1956, The Field of Vision.
Mari Sandoz Award, 1975
Western Literature Association's Distinguished Achievement Award, 1979
National Book Award, 1980, Plains Song
American Book Award, 1981, Plains Song
Los Angeles Times' Book Prize Robert Kirsch Award for Lifetime Achievement, 1981
Third Prize O. Henry Award, 1982, Victrola
Common Wealth Award for distinguished service in literature, Modern Language Association 1982
Whiting Award, 1985 (inaugural recipient)
O. Henry Award, 1985, Glimpse Into Another Country
Creative Writing Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts, 1986
Exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1994
Nebraska 150 Books honor for The Home Place. 2017
“150 Notable Nebraskans”, Number 65 on the Journal Star Sesquicentennial List of Significant Nebraskans, 2017


Friendship developed between Loren Eiseley and Wright Morris when both lived in Philadelphia, PA.


My Uncle Dudley. 1942.
The Man Who Was There. 1945.
The Inhabitants. 1946.
The Home Place. 1948.
The World in the Attic. 1949.
Man and Boy. 1951.
The Works of Love. 1952.
The Deep Sleep. 1953.
The Huge Season. 1954.
The Field of Vision. 1956.
The Territory Ahead. 1956.
Love Among the Cannibals. 1957.
Ceremony in Lone Tree. 1960.
What a Way to Go. 1962.
Cause for Wonder. 1963.
One Day. 1965.
A Bill of Rites, a Bill of Wrongs, a Bill of Goods. 1968.
God's Country and My People. 1968.
In Orbit. 1969.
Green Grass, Blue Sky. 1970.
Fire Sermon. 1971.
War Games. 1972.
Love Affair-Venetian Journal. 1972.
A Life. 1973.
Here Is Einbaum. 1973.
Ceremony in Lone Tree. 1973.
About Fiction: Reverent Reflections on the Nature of Fiction with Irreverent Observations on Writers, Readers and Other Abuses. 1975.
The Cat's Meow. 1975
Structures and Artifacts: Photographs 1933-1954. 1975.
Real Losses, Imaginary Gains. 1976.
The Fork River Space Project. 1977.
Earthly Delights, Unearthly Adornments: American Writers as Image-Makers. 1978.
Plains Song: For Female Voices. 1980.
Will's Boy: A Memoir. 1981.
Wright Morris: Photographs and Words, 1982. (edited and with introduction by James Alinder)
Solo: An American Dreamer in Europe. 1983.
The Origin of Sadness. 1984.
A Cloak of Light: Writing My Life. 1985.
Collected Short Stories, 1948-1986. 1988.
Time Pieces: Photographs, Writing, and Memory. 1989.
Writing My Life: An Autobiography. 1993.
Three Easy Pieces. 1994.
Two for the Road. 1994.

Joseph Wydeven talks about Nebraska author Wright Morris at Ames Reading Series, November 21, 2010:

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Wright Morris

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(e.g. Author is buried in Fremont, not in David City / Also wrote for the Daily Nebraskan during her time as a student)