Joseph Wood Krutch (1893-1970)
Where: Cornwall Hollow
Krutch was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. He studied at the University of Tennessee, and received his doctorate in English at Columbia University in 1923. While working on his doctorate, he served in the army in 1918, and then traveled through Europe for a year on an academic trip with his best friend from Columbia, Mark Van Doren.
Upon his return in 1920, Krutch took a position teaching at Brooklyn Polytechnic, while finishing his degree at Columbia. After graduating, Krutch joined the staff of The Nation as the drama critic. In 1937, while still working for The Nation, Krutch returned to Columbia to teach dramatic literature, and within a few years was appointed department chair.
Krutch wrote over twenty books, many of which were published after his retirement from Columbia and The Nation in 1952. Krutch was known not only for his nature writing but also his social commentary and insight into human nature. Krutch’s first book, Modern Nature, published in 1929, was an immediate bestseller and remains in print today. During the 1940s, Krutch published two critical biographies of Samuel Johnson and Henry David Thoreau. His 1954 book, The Measure of Man, received the National Book Award for nonfiction. Although retired, Krutch was still a regular columnist for theSaturday Review and The American Scholar. In 1959 Krutch published a collection of those columns titled Human Nature and the Human Condition. Krutch also wrote several books on nature, focusing on topics such as ecology, the desert environment, and nature conservation. Krutch died in 1970 in Tuscon, Arizona, where he had moved after retirement from Columbia and The Nation.
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