Iowa History Daily: On October 11, 1977, far-famed Iowa writer MacKinlay Kantor died. A notable journalist, novelist, screenwriter, and short-story author, Kantor received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1956 for his historical novel “Andersonville.”
Born Benjamin McKinlay Kantor in Webster City, to a newspaper editor mother, Kantor grew up with a love of words. After dropping out of school at age 17 to start working for his mother’s newspaper, he won an essay contests for short stories published in “Outdoor America” and “Iowa Magazine.” Following a brief stint writing pulp fiction and detective stories in Chicago, Kantor returned to Iowa to write for the Cedar Rapids Republican and the Des Moines Tribune.
Breaking into a new genre with his first novels during the 1920s and 1930s, Kantor decided to move to New York City in 1932 before ultimately landing briefly in California. He found commercial success with his historical novel “Long Remember,” and worked as a correspondent for the Saturday Evening Post and Esquire during World War II. After the war he continued writing, but also worked for the New York City Police Department for a two year stint.
During the 1950s, Kantor finally found a home writing works of historical fiction focused on the American Civil War. After his first two works, “Lee and Grant at Appomattox” and “Gettysburg,” Kantor hit big with “Andersonville” in 1955. The graphically detailed story of a Confederate prisoner-of-war camp, “Andersonville” allowed Kantor to capture the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1956. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar