An Expat American Writer

Glenway Wescott was one of the major expatriate American writers who lived in France in the 1920s and 1930s, yet today, he is largely ignored. Alice De Lamar met him in Paris in the 1920s and remained his friend for the rest of her life.

Wescott, at one time president of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, achieved literary acclaim when he was 26 with the publication of The Grandmothers, the story of a pioneer family transplanted from New York State to Wisconsin in 1846. It was the Harper Prize Novel for 1927, and it became a best-seller.

Wescott was friends with Katherine Anne Porter, W. Somerset Maugham, and Thornton Wilder. He wrote about them in Images of Truth: Remembrances and Criticism(Harper & Row, 1962), a book in which he also wrote about Colette, Isak Dinesen, and Thomas Mann, all acquaintances.

His life (1901-1987) spanned several eras, from 1920s Paris, through two world wars, to 1950s and 1960s New York City and the sexual revolution. Wescott, who was open about being gay in homophobic times, was part of an amazing group of gay artists, such as W.H. Auden, Christopher Isherwood, W. Somerset Maugham, and E.M. Forster.

After age 45, Wescott could not finish a novel. He had a lifelong relationship with Monroe Wheeler (below), a curator at the Museum of Modern Art.


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