William Andrew Swanberg (November 23, 1907 in
St. Paul, Minnesota
St. Paul, Minnesota –
September 17, 1992 in Southbury, Connecticut) was an American
biographer. He may be known best for Citizen Hearst, a biography of
William Randolph Hearst, which was recommended by the Pulitzer Prize
board in 1962 but overturned by the trustees. He won the 1973
Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography for his 1972 biography
of Henry Luce, and the
National Book Award in 1977 for his 1976
biography of Norman Thomas.
3 The Hearst Affair
4 Personal and death
9 External links
Swanberg was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota in 1907, and earned his
B.A. at the
University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota in 1930.
With grudging and only partial help from his father, who wanted his
son to be a cabinet maker like himself, Swanberg earned his degree.
Upon graduatin, he employment as a journalist with such local daily
newspapers as the St. Paul Daily News and the Minneapolis Star
unsatisfactory, as their staff were shrinking during the Great
Depression. Swanberg instead held a succession of low-paying manual
labor jobs. After five years he followed a college friend to New York
City in September 1935. After months of anxious job-hunting he secured
an interview at the
Dell Publishing Company with president George T.
Delacorte Jr. himself, and was hired as an assistant editor of three
lowbrow magazines. Money saved in the next months enabled him to
return briefly to the
Midwest to marry his college sweetheart Dorothy
Green, and bring her to New York. He soon began to climb up the
editorial ladder at Dell, and by 1939 he was doing well enough to buy
a house in Connecticut.
United States entered World War II, Swanberg was 34 years
old, father of two children, and suffering from a hearing disability.
Rejected by the U.S. Army, in 1943 he enlisted in the Office of War
Information and, after training, was sent to England following D-Day.
In London, amid the V-1 and V-2 attacks, he prepared and edited
pamphlets to be air-dropped behind enemy lines in France and later in
Norway. With the end of the war he returned in October 1945 to Dell
and the publishing world.
Swanberg did not return to magazine editing but instead did freelance
work within and without Dell. By 1953 he began carving out time for
researching his first book (Sickles), which
beginning a long-term association. Swanberg's early hopes of newspaper
work never materialized, but by the mid-1950s he had established
himself as scholarly biographer. His efforts proved to be
labor-intensive and required up to four years apiece, even when
assisted by the research and transcription efforts of his wife
Dorothy. Upon turning 80 in 1987, Swanberg attempted one last
biography, about William Eugene “Pussyfoot” Johnson
The Hearst Affair
Swanberg's 1961 book Citizen Hearst: A Biography of William Randolph
Hearst was recommended for a
Pulitzer Prize for Biography or
Autobiography by the advisory board but rejected by the trustees of
Columbia University, apparently because they thought that Hearst was
not dignified enough to be the subject of the award. It was the first
time in 46 years that the trustees rejected a recommendation from the
advisory board, and the news caused sales to soar.
Personal and death
He was at work on that project when he succumbed to heart failure at
his typewriter in
Southbury, Connecticut on September 17, 1992.
Christopher Award and Minnesota Centennial Award for First Blood
1960: Guggenheim fellow
1961: Frank Luther Mott-
Kappa Tau Alpha
Kappa Tau Alpha Award for Citizen Hearst
Pulitzer Prize for Citizen Hearst (overturned by trustees of
Columbia University, who administer the prize, because subject
(William Randolph Hearst) failed to meet "eminent example of the
biographer's art as specified in the prize definition"
Van Wyck Brooks Award for nonfiction (1967)
Pulitzer Prize for Luce and His Empire
National Book Award in Biography for Norman Thomas: The Last
Swanberg's papers are archived at Columbia University.
In a statistical overview derived from writings by and about William
Andrew Swanberg, OCLC/
WorldCat [clarification needed] encompasses
roughly 30+ works in 100+ publications in 5 languages and 16,000+
This is a dynamic list and may never be able to satisfy particular
standards for completeness. You can help by expanding it with reliably
Sickles the Incredible, 1956. Civil War General Daniel Edgar Sickles.
First Blood: The Story of Ft. Sumter, 1957
Jim Fisk: The Career of an Improbable Rascal, 1959. "Diamond" Jim
Citizen Hearst: A Biography of William Randolph Hearst, 1961
The Rector and the Rogue, 1969
Luce and His Empire, 1972
Norman Thomas: The Last Idealist, 1976
Whitney Father, Whitney Heiress, 1980
^ a b www.nytimes.com
^ a b Hohenberg, John. The Pulitzer Diaries: Inside America's Greatest
Prize. 1997. p. 109.
^ a b "Biography or Autobiography". Past winners and finalists by
category. The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
^ a b "National Book Awards – 1977". National Book Foundation.
^ Gale Contemporary Authors Online. Volume 13.[page needed]
^ Gale, p. 264
^ Gale, p. 277
WorldCat Identities: Swanberg, W. A. 1907-
W. A. Swanberg Papers Kislak Center for
Special Collections, Rare
Books and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania
Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography (1951–1975)
Margaret Louise Coit (1951)
Merlo J. Pusey (1952)
David J. Mays (1953)
Charles A. Lindbergh (1954)
William S. White (1955)
Talbot Faulkner Hamlin (1956)
John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy (1957)
Douglas S. Freeman, John Alexander Carroll and Mary Wells Ashworth
Arthur Walworth (1959)
Samuel Eliot Morison
Samuel Eliot Morison (1960)
David Donald (1961)
Leon Edel (1963)
Walter Jackson Bate
Walter Jackson Bate (1964)
Ernest Samuels (1965)
Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.
Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. (1966)
Justin Kaplan (1967)
George Frost Kennan (1968)
Benjamin Lawrence Reid (1969)
Thomas Harry Williams (1970)
Lawrence Thompson (1971)
Joseph P. Lash
Joseph P. Lash (1972)
W. A. Swanberg (1973)
Louis Sheaffer (1974)
Robert Caro (1975)
ISNI: 0000 0001 0858 9751
BNF: cb13475606n (data)