After Night of the
Hunter, his first novel, was made into a movie,
Davis Grubb became a national literary celebrity.
His dark, absorbing stories often involve innocents
and children battling danger and dangerous adults.
Conversely, his children are sometimes the villains.
We hear his voice, thanks to the WV Library
Sample scenes from readings:
a murderer posing as a preacher chases two children
through the night ... an enchanting scene of two
children playing on a wrecked steamboat ... a
corrupt head guard takes his opportunity to hassle
three convicts about to be released
Born 1919 and raised
in Moundsville, where his family had lived for over
200 years. Began writing age 7. Died 1980 in New
The Night of the Hunter Harper 1953, A
Dream of Kings Scribner, 1955, The Watchman
Scribner 1961, The Voices of Glory
Scribner 1962, Twelve Tales of Suspense and the
Supernatural Scribner 1964, A Tree Full of
Stars Scribner 1965, Shadow of My Brother
Holt 1966, The Golden Sickle World Publishing
1968, Fools' Parade World Publishing 1969,
The Barefoot Man Simon & Schuster 1971, The
Siege of 318 Black Forest Press 1979, Ancient
Lights Viking 1982. Short stories published
widely; e.g., Collier's, Cosmopolitan, Woman's
Home Companion, Charm, Holiday.
Education and Career:
Carnegie Institution of Technology (now
Carnegie-Mellon University) where he worked his way
by sorting stuffed Guatemalan humming birds in the
ornithology lab. Abandoned art career because color
blind. Specializations: Elizabethan and French
Renaissance poetry, Irish and Welsh poets, William
Blake, mythology. Novelist and short story writer.
Awards: The Night of the Hunter and
Fools' Parade made into movies.
of all, Mr. Grubb makes this [The Night of the
Hunter] a fast-paced, technically admirable
tale. Second, he has done this without sacrificing
quality. He is a good writer--a very good one
indeed--and that fact sticks out all over his book."
(San Francisco Chronicle)
"Mr. Grubb--is second to none in this [Ancient
Lights] epic, mind-altering, sexalicious,
hedonistic, sensory freefall...a full-fledged miracle
of a book, it examines everything in the known world
as being connected to this amazing, potent and
ridiculous dance we are doing on this spinning
ball." (Lisa Barker)
-"Dickensonian in his ability to recreate the true,
gritty atmosphere of a scene, a place, and in his
equal ability to turn ordinary people into
portentous figures, larger than life but not less
for being so--.Acknowledged talents for creating
entirely believable characters and giving them a
language and turn-of-phrase all their own--deep and
fluently expressed understanding of sensuality. Few
writers since D.H.Lawrence have shown the
life-giving power of love as Grubb does." (From
blurbs on The Barefoot Man)
Excerpts from In Their Own Country
(Grubb's voice courtesy of the West Virginia State
Grubb: A young writer once came to me years
ago and said, "Why write anything? It's all been
said." And I said, "Yes, but not by you." And I
think unless you believe in the sacred individuality
of everyone, then you don't believe in writing at
all. Because no metaphor can have any real meaning
unless, having originated in the mind of the poet,
it finds soil to make its resurrection in the mind
of somebody else.
Tom Douglass (Grubb's biographer): Every day
you don't create something is a sin, he said. That's
what sin is. Doing nothing. Or traveling along day
after day in the same old rut, not feeling anything,
not seeing anything. That's a sin.
Tom: I can't remember when it first was that
I said to myself, when I looked in a mirror over the
washbasin, which was about to here on me, "You are a
writer." I can't imagine ever not having been a
writer. I wasn't a prodigy in any sense. I was, to
all intents and purposes, a very stupid,
mischievous, rather sad child. I made horrible
grades in school, the worst. to the disappointment
of my father and mother both. I'd come home with my
report card just bristling with Fs or Ds.
underestimate the value, the real estate value
of the human imagination. I can change this
landscape in my mind into words on paper, and I
make a pretty good living at it, and I get a
great feeling from it too.
The real estate in
my mind, the Moundsville in my mind, can never
be penetrated by any interstate. The landmarks
cannot be demolished. The real estate cannot be
bartered or sold or prostituted in any way.