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Wallace Earle Stegner (February 18, 1909 – April 13, 1993) was an Americanmarker historian, novelist, short story writer, and environmentalist, often called "The Dean of Western Writers". He won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1972.


Stegner was born in Lake Mills, Iowamarker and grew up in Great Falls, Montanamarker, Salt Lake City, Utahmarker and southern Saskatchewanmarker, which he wrote about in his autobiography Wolf Willow. Stegner says he "lived in twenty places in eight states and Canada". While living in Utah, he joined a Boy Scout troop at a Mormon church (although he himself was a Presbyterian) and earned the Eagle Scout award. He received a B.A. at the University of Utahmarker in 1930. He also studied at Iowa Writers' Workshopmarker at the University of Iowamarker.

"In 1934, Stegner married Mary Stuart Page. For 59 years they shared a 'personal literary partnership of singular facility,' wrote Arthur Schlesinger Jr.", reports a short biography on the San Francisco Public Library Web site by James Hepworth.

A son, Page Stegner, is a nature writer and professor emeritus at University of California, Santa Cruzmarker. Page is married to Lynn Stegner, a novelist. Page edited the 2008 Collected Letters of Wallace Stegner.

Stegner died in Santa Fe, New Mexicomarker on April 13, 1993, from injuries suffered in an automobile accident on March 28, 1993.


Stegner taught at the University of Wisconsinmarker and Harvard Universitymarker. Eventually he settled at Stanford Universitymarker, where he founded the creative writing program. His students included Sandra Day O'Connor, Edward Abbey, Wendell Berry, Simin Daneshvar, George V. Higgins, Thomas McGuane, Robert Stone, Ken Kesey, Gordon Lish, Ernest Gaines, and Larry McMurtry. He served as a special assistant to Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall and was elected to the Sierra Club's board of directors for a term that lasted 1964–1966. He also moved into a house in nearby Los Altos Hillsmarker and became one of the town's most prominent residents.

Stegner's novel Angle of Repose won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1972, and was directly based on the letters of Mary Hallock Foote (later published as the memoir A Victorian Gentlewoman in the Far West). Stegner's use of uncredited passages taken directly from Foote's letters caused a continuing controversy. Stegner also won the National Book Award for The Spectator Bird in 1977. In the late 1980s, he refused a National Medal from the National Endowment for the Arts because he believed the NEA had become too politicized.

Stegner's non-fiction works include Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West (1954), a biography of John Wesley Powell, who was the first man to explore the Colorado Rivermarker through the Grand Canyonmarker and later served as a government scientist and advocate of water conservation in the American West. Stegner wrote the forward and edited "This Is Dinosaur," with photographs by Philip Hyde, a Sierra Club book that was used in the campaign to prevent dams in Dinosaur National Monumentmarker and helped launch the modern environmental movement. A substantial number of his works are set in and around Greensboro, Vermontmarker, where he lived part-time. Some of his character representations (particularly in Second Growth) were sufficiently unflattering that residents took offense, and he did not visit Greensboro for several years after its publication.


On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Stegner's birth, Timothy Egan reflected in The New York Times on the writer's legacy, including his perhaps troubled relationship with the newspaper itself. Over 100 readers including Jane Smiley offered comments on the subject..

One commenter to The Times, Stephen Trimble, a 2008–2009 Wallace Stegner Fellow at the University of Utahmarker's Tanner Humanities Center, drew attention to the broader Utahmarker birthday tribute to Stegner through leading conversations about Stegner’s work in communities across Utah. Gov. Jon Huntsman's declaration of February 18, 2009 as Wallace Stegner Day highlighted Stegner as "one of Utah's most prominent citizens...a legendary voice for Utah and the West as an author, educator, and conservationist...[who was] raised and educated in Salt Lake City and [at] the University of Utah, [and] possess[ed] a lifelong love of Utah’s landscapes, people, and culture." See more on the Utah centennial tributes at

The Stegner Fellowship program at Stanford Universitymarker is a two-year creative writing fellowship. The house Stegner lived in from ages 7 to 12 in Eastend, Saskatchewanmarker, Canadamarker was restored by the Eastend Arts Council in 1990 and established as a Residence for Artists. In 2003, indie rock trio Mambo Sons released the Stegner-influenced song "Little Live Thing / Cross to Safety" written by Scott Lawson and Tom Guerra, which resulted in an invitation for Lawson to serve as Artist-in-Residency for March 2009.



  • The Women On the Wall (1950)
  • The City of the Living: And Other Stories (1957)
  • Writer's Art: A Collection of Short Stories (1972)
  • Collected Stories of Wallace Stegner (1990)
  • Late Harvest: Rural American Writing (1996) (with Bobbie Ann Mason)

  • Genesis: A Story from Wolf Willow (1994)

  • Mormon Country (1942)
  • One Nation (1945)
  • Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West (1954)
  • Wolf Willow: A History, a Story, and a Memory of the Last Plains Frontier (autobiography) (1955)
  • Wilderness Letter (1960), "helped win passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964," per Utah Gov. Huntsman in 2009. See also Timeline of environmental events. Full text of letter at The Wilderness Society Web site. Retrieved 2-24-09.
  • The Gathering of Zion: The Story of the Mormon Trail (1964)
  • Teaching the Short Story (1966)
  • The Sound of Mountain Water (1969)
  • Discovery! The Search for Arabian Oil (1971)
  • Writer in America (1982)
  • Conversations With Wallace Stegner on Western History and Literature (1983)
  • This Is Dinosaur: Echo Park Country And Its Magic Rivers (1985)
  • American Places (1985)
  • On the Teaching of Creative Writing (1988)
  • The Uneasy Chair: A Biography of Bernard Devoto (1989)
  • Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs, 'Living and writing in the west', (autobiographical) (1992)

Short Stories


Plus: Three O. Henry Awards, twice a Guggenheim Fellow (1949 and 1959), Senior Fellow of the National Institute of Humanities, member of National Institute and American Academy of Arts and Letters, member National Academy of Artsmarker and Sciences.

The Encyclopedia of World Biography reports that the Little Brown prize was for "$2500, which at that time was a fortune. The book became a literary and financial success and helped gain Stegner [the] position ... at Harvard."



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