Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes

      Edwin DuBose Heyward (August 31, 1885 – June 16, 1940) was an American author best known for his 1925 novel Porgy, which was adapted by his wife Dorothy into a 1927 play. The stage Porgy inspired the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess with music by George Gershwin, which was later adapted into a 1959 film. Heyward also wrote poetry and other novels and plays, as well as the children's book The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes (1939).
      Heyward was born in 1885 in Charleston, South Carolina. He was a descendant of Judge Thomas Heyward, Jr., a South Carolina signer of the United States Declaration of Independence.
      As a child and young man, Heyward was frequently ill. He contracted polio when he was eighteen, then two years later contracted typhoid fever and the following year fell ill with pleurisy. Although he described himself as " a miserable student" who was uninterested in learning, and dropped out of high school in his first year at age fourteen, he had a lifelong and serious interest in literature. He passed the time in his sickbed writing verses and stories.
      In 1913 Heyward wrote a one-act play, An Artistic Triumph, which was produced in a local theater. Although a derivative work which reportedly showed little promise, this minor success encouraged him to pursue a literary career. In 1917, while convalescing from his illnesses, he began to work seriously at fiction and poetry. In 1918 his first published short story, "The Brute," appeared in Pagan, a Magazine for Eudaemonists.
      The next year he met Hervey Allen, who was then teaching at the nearby Porter Military Academy. They became close friends and formed the Poetry Society of South Carolina, which helped spark a revival of southern literature. Heyward edited the society's yearbooks until 1924 and contributed much of their content. His poetry was well received, earning him a "Contemporary Verse" award in 1921.
      In 1922 he and Allen jointly published a collection, Carolina Chansons: Legends of the Low Country, and they jointly edited an issue of Poetry magazine featuring Southern writers. During this period Heyward and a friend, Henry T. O'Neill, had operated a successful insurance and real estate company.

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