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Cassill, R. Verlin



  • Existence: -1919


Author and critic Ron Verlin Cassill was born on May 17, 1919, in Cedar Falls, IA, son of Mary Elizabeth Glosser and Howard Earl Cassill. Following his graduation from Blakesburg High School, Cassill enrolled in the University of Iowa, taking his bachelor's degree magna cum laude in 1939. Cassill then headed west to Sioux City to work as a painting instructor for the Iowa Art project. The experiences Cassill gathered in the early nineteen forties provided much material for his first published writings. From 1942 -- 46, Cassill served in the South Pacific as a first lieutenant in the Army's Medical Administrative Corps. In 1947 his short story The Conditions of Justice, a work based largely on his wartime experiences, won a First award from the Atlantic Monthly.

Cassill returned to Iowa City after the war, and earned his Master's degree with the thesis, Such Vain Keeping. Three years later that thesis, retitled Eagle on the Coin, became his first published novel. Cassill's early successes gave him the chance to unite a literary and an academic career. In 1949 he joined the University of Iowa's Writer's Workshop as an instructor of English. Cassill remained at Iowa until 1952, when he left to study comparative literature at the Sorbonne under a Fulbright. More national grants and fellowships would follow, as he received a Rockefeller grant in 1954 and later a Guggenheim. Although Cassill wrote steadily throughout the nineteen fifties, he maintained, for the most part, steady academic posts. 1955 brought him to the University of Washington in Seattle as a lecturer, and from 1957 -- 1960, Cassill taught in New York City, first at the New School for Social Research, then at Columbia University. 1961 saw yet another return to Iowa City, as Cassill accepted a post with the Writer's Workshop. Cassill remained with Iowa until 1966, though for 1965 -- 66 he was a writer in residence at Purdue University. Following a dispute with University and English Department administration over the autonomy of the Writer's Workshop, Cassill resigned from the University. Cassill in 1966 withdrew his substantial manuscript archive from Special Collections at the University of Iowa, claiming that his move from the state was permanent and that he no longer considered himself an Iowan. His bitterness toward the Midwest--and Iowa in particular--issued itself in such spirited invectives as Could be trouble in River City (Washington Post Book Week, 7-25-65), and Why I Left the Midwest,an essay in his book, In An Iron Time. In 1966 Cassill accepted the position of visiting lecturer in the department of English at Brown University, succeeding the novelist John Hawkes. He remained with Brown until his retirement in 1982. Cassill then became editor of Norton's Anthology of Short Fiction. In March of 2002 Cassill died at the age of 82 in Providence, Rhode Island.

Cassill's academic career hardly reduced his literary output. The Blakesburg native has written some twenty -three novels and many short stories. The War in the Air, a short story from 1954, won him an O.Henry Price, as did 1955's The Inland Years. Two of his short stories from 1956, The Prize, and When Old Age Shall this Generation Waste, were included in the Memorial Award volume. In 1965 Cassill won the Blackhawk Award for the best book written by an Iowa author for The Father and Other Stories.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

R. Verlin Cassill manuscripts

Identifier: msc0579
Scope and Contents

There are no contents, the information for this collection has been moved to the Iowa Author’s Manuscript Collection, Msc0869.

Dates: 1957-1963; Other: Date acquired: 0000Depa