- Stegner, Wallace Earle
▪ 1994U.S. novelist (b. Feb. 18, 1909, Lake Mills, Iowa—d. April l3, 1993, Santa Fe, N.M.), redefined the notion of the West as a desirable landscape for rugged individualists, particularly stereotypical loners sporting Stetson hats, and instead celebrated the pioneering spirit of cooperation in works of fiction and nonfiction that also addressed environmental concerns. Among his first offerings was the semiautobiographical The Big Rock Candy Mountain (1943), which explored the illusory vision of the West as a utopia and his own father's preoccupation with searching for prosperity there by frequently moving the family. Stegner, who attended the Universities of Utah (B.A., 1930) and Iowa (M.A., 1932; Ph.D., 1935), taught creative writing at the Universities of Utah and Wisconsin and at Harvard and Stanford universities. He served as inspiration for such students turned western writers as Larry McMurtry and Thomas McGuane. During his 50-year literary career, Stegner published more than two dozen novels, historical works, and collections of stories and essays. In 1972 he won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for Angle of Repose, an account of an elderly man who accepted his own hardships after learning that his pioneer grandparents had endured similar trials. Stegner won a National Book Award in 1977 for The Spectator Bird but refused the National Medal for the Arts in 1992 because of the political controls placed upon the National Endowment for the Arts, the agency that issued the award. Some of his other notable works include Wolf Willow (1962), about a cattle drive through a blinding snowstorm in Saskatchewan; Beyond the Hundredth Meridian (1954), a biography of Colorado River explorer John Wesley Powell; and Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs: Living and Writing in the West (1992). Stegner, who died some two weeks after sustaining injuries in a car crash, spent most of his career at Stanford, where he taught from 1945 until his 1971 retirement.
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