"All I wanted to do was tell a story, to tell it to the best of my ability." - - Erskine Caldwell

Erskine Caldwell is one of the most widely read authors of the Twentieth Century, with eighty million books sold to readers in forty-three different languages. His novel God's Little Acre alone has sold over fourteen million copies. His books have been made into three movies, and the stage adaptation of Tobacco Road made American theatre history when it ran for seven-and-a-half years on Broadway. Caldwell is the author of 25 novels, 150 short stories and 12 nonfiction books.

His themes were centered around social injustice in terms of class, race, and gender - - remarkably, the very same issues we still wrestle with today. His method varied from the fantastically grotesque to the perversely comic, to the grimly realistic. In the early 1930's, he became the most controversial - - and one of the most censored - - Southern writers of his time. When the New York Society for the Prevention of Vice tried to ban God's Little Acre, Caldwell took the case to court. With help from the testimony of H.L. Mencken and Sherwood Anderson, he won his case - - a landmark in First Amendment litigation.

Caldwell's portrayal of rural poverty in the South was viewed by many Southerners as a betrayal. Margaret Mitchell, for one, criticized both Faulkner and Caldwell for betraying the South for Yankee dollars, and pointed out that Gone with the Wind contained "not a single sadist or degenerate."

That being said, literary scholars at the time ranked him alongside Fitzgerald, Wolfe, and Steinbeck. William Faulkner thought him one of America's five greatest novelists, and as late as 1960, Caldwell was under consideration for the Nobel Prize

As one of the first authors to be published in mass-market paperback editions, he is a key figure in the history of American publishing. Sales of his books in Signet and Gold Medal editions established NAL (the New American Library) as one of the dominant paperback houses in the world. By the late 1940's, Caldwell had sold more books than any writer in the nation's history. For many years, however, his popularity with readers worked against his standing within the literary establishment. In 1984, Caldwell was elected, along with Norman Mailer, to the fifty-chair body of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. (Caldwell took the chair of playwright Lillian Hellman.)

He died in Paradise Valley, Arizona on April 11, 1987.


The Bastard (1929)
Poor Fool (1930)
Tobacco Road (1932)
God's Little Acre (1933)
Journeyman (1935)
Trouble in July (1940)
All Night Long (1942)
Georgia Boy (1943)
Tragic Ground (1944)
A House in the Uplands (1946)
The Sure Hand of God (1947)
This Very Earth (1948)
A Place Called Estherville (1949)
Episode in Palmetto (1950)
A Lamp for Nightfall (1952)
Love and Money (1954)
Gretta (1955)
Claudelle Inglish (1958)
Jenny by Nature (1961)
Close to Home (1962)
The Last Night of Summer (1963)
Miss Mamma Aimee (1967)
Summertime Island (1968)
The Weather Shelter (1969)
The Earnshaw Neighborhood (1971)
Annette (1973)

Short Story Anthologies

American Earth (1931)
We Are the Living (1933)
Kneel to the Rising Sun and Other Stories (1935)
Southways (1938)
Jackpot: The Stories of Erskine Caldwell (1940)
Stories by Erskine Caldwell (1944) Edited by Henry Seidel Canby
The Caldwell Caravan: Novels and Stories (1946)
The Humorous Side of Erskine Caldwell (1951) Edited by Robert Cantwell
The Courting of Susie Brown (1952) Introduction by Erskine Caldwell
Complete Stories of Erskine Caldwell (1953) Published in 1996 as The Stories of Erskine Caldwell
Gulf Coast Stories (1956)
Certain Women (1957)
When You Think of Me (1959)
Men and Women (1961) Introduction by Carvel Collins
Stories of Life: North & South (1983) Chosen by Edward Connery Lathem
The Black and White Stories of Erskine Caldwell (1984) Selected by Ray McIver
The Stories of Erskine Caldwell (1996) Originally published in 1953 as The Complete Stories of Erskine Caldwell


The Sacrilege of Alan Kent (1936)

General Nonfiction

Tenant Farmers (1935)
Some American People (1935)
Moscow Under Fire: A Wartime Diary (1942)
All-Out on the Road to Smolensk (1942)
Writing in America (1967)

Travel and Observation

Afternoons in Mid-America: Observation and Impression (1976) Illustrated by Virginia Caldwell
Around About America (1964) Illustrated by Virginia Caldwell

Memory and Recollection

In Search of Bisco (1965)
In the Shadow of the Steeple (1967) Published as Deep South in 1968
Deep South: Memory and Observation (1968) Published as In the Shadow of the Steeple in 1967


Call It Experience: The Years of Learning How to Write (1951)
With All My Might: An Autobiography (1987)

Text-Picture Books With Margaret Bourke-White

You Have Seen Their Faces (1937)
North of the Danube (1939)
Say! Is This the USA (1941)
Russia at War (1942)

Children's Books

Molly Cottontail (1958)
The Deer at Our House (1966)