(Editors’ note: The following is reprinted from the Chicago Daily Tribune, May 31, 1919. Winesburg, Ohio, was published in May 8, 1919. )
Sherwood Anderson, whose “Winesburg, O.” has just been published by Huebsch, tells here the story of his life:
“I was born in 1876 of Scotch-Irish parents in a little village in Ohio. My mother was tall and gaunt and silent, and after giving birth to seven children, died of overwork before reaching the age of forty.
“My father, a journeyman harness-maker of the old days, was a lovable, improvident fellow, inclined to stretch the truth, loving to swagger, and not averse to losing an occassional battle with the demon rum.
“Lord, but we were poor-too poor.
“As early as I can remember, I was on the streets of our town, sweeping out stores, mowing the lawns before houses, selling newspapers, taking care of horses belonging to families where there were no men, selling popcorn and peanuts to the crowds on Saturday afternoon-perpetually busy. I became known as “Jobby” Anderson because of my keenness for any job that presented itself.
“What education I got was picked up in the barrooms, the stores, in the street, and by the grace of certain lovable characters in our place who took me in hand, loaned me books, and talked to me through the evening about the old poets and story tellers.
“When I was 16 years old, I came to Chicago. For four or five yearsI worked as a common laborer and got myself caught in that vicious circle of things where a man cannot swagger before his fellows, is too tired to think, and too pitifully ashamed of his appearance to push out into the world.
“The Spanish war saved me from this. I enlisted, frankly not through patriotism-but in order to get out of my situation. To my amazement, when I returned to my home town to become a soldier, I was greeted as a hero-one who had given up a lucrative position in the city in order to fight for his country. My natural shrewdness led me to take advantage of this situation, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.
“When I came back from the war, I got into the advertising business and have been a writer of advertising ever since, excepting for a few years, when I attempted to become a manufacturer and made a failure of it.
“The impulse that led me to write novels was the impulse for my own slavation. At the time I wrote my first novel I was just failing in my manufacturing adventure and losing a great deal of money for my friends. I worried. I found myself in the pitiful position of so many business men
“One day I sat down and began to write a novel. I liked it. To my amazement, I found that on paper I was entirely honest and sincere-a really likable, clear headed, decent fellow. At once, I knew that I would write novels the rest of my life, and I certainly shall.”