Rollo Walter Brown, one of Perry county’s distinguished native sons, was in this city yesterday and visited via phone with Tom Berkshire, a member of the Times-Recorder staff. The noted writer and lecture was on his way to New Concord, to spend Monday and Tuesday at Muskingum college presenting a series of lectures and meeting with any of the students interested in creative writing.
Brown has had, in the words of one educations, a “disturbingly vivid careers.” Born on a hillside farm near Crooksville he worked in mines and potteries and had visions of becoming an inventor, but at 17 he discovered Victor Hugo, Defoe and Byron and the spirit of invention surrendered another recruit to the spirit of literature.
After completing his high school education, Brown found employment in Zanesville and then went on to college, receiving and AB from Ohio Northern and his MA at Harvard. After years of successful teaching at Wabash, Carleton and Harvard he turned exclusively to writing.
His literary reputation was made with his biography of Dean Briggs of Harvard. For years he has spent six months of each year at the McDowell Colony at Peterborough, N.H., where most of his writing is done. There he has been in contact with many of the great literary figures of the time and his “Next Door to a Poet,” a memoir of Edwin Arlington Robinson his friend and neighbor, added much to the general knowledge of this strange shy genius. Other books include four novels laid in the Perry county locale, and special studies such as “Lonely Americans, ” “I Travel by Train,” and his latest book “Harvard Yard in the Golden Age.” The last is a collection of short biographies of Charles Eliot, William James, James Royce, George Santayana and other notable men associated with the University. He is also a contributor to the Atlantic Monthly.
The time not spent in writing is devoted to lecture tours such as the one that brings him to Muskingum. He has traveled over the whole of the United States, lecturing before college audiences and holding conferences for students interested in creative writing. At his first appearance at Muskingum, Berkshire’s coverage of his lecture so impressed Brown that he contacted the local man, with the result that a firm friendship has been established and Berkshire is the proud possessor of several autographed first editions of Brown’s books.
The lectures at Muskingum are open to the public as part of the college lyceum program.
Source: Zanesville Times-Recorder, October 30, 1951.