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Smith, Chard Powers, 1894-1977



  • Existence: 1894-11-01 - 1977


The writer Chard Powers Smith was born in Watertown, New York, and educated at the Pawling School and Yale University, class of 1916. Following service as a captain in the U.S. Army Field Artillery during World War I, he received a law degree from Harvard in 1921, but early abandoned the practice of law to make his living as a writer. A regular at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, throughout his career, he published in a variety of genres. His best known works include Artillery of Time, a historical novel; Where the Light Falls, a biography/memoir of the poet Edwin Arlington Robinson; and The Housatonic: Puritan River, part of the Rivers of America series.

Smith was born into comfortable circumstances in upstate New York, his parents’ marriage having joined two of Watertown’s most prominent families. His father, Edward North Smith, practiced law in partnership with his father, and was later a Justice of the New York Supreme Court, Fifth District. His mother, Alice Lamon Powers, the daughter of a wealthy businessman, died in childbirth when Smith was eleven. Smith maintained a home in an old mill in nearby Sackets Harbor for many years, and based much of his writing on family and local history.

Like many writers of his generation, Smith traveled and lived in Europe intermittently in the 1920s, and moved in American expatriate social and literary circles. He studied at Oxford in 1921, and in that year also married Olive Cary Macdonald; she died of complications from pregnancy in 1924 while the two were living in Italy. In addition to inspiring his own volume of poetry, Along the Wind, Smith’s first marriage was purported to be a source for Ernest Hemingway’s short story “Mr. and Mrs. Elliot;” Smith maintained a bitter grudge about the story all his life.

In 1929 Smith married Marion Antoinette (“Nanette”) Chester. The couple lived in Connecticut and had two children, Chard Powers Smith, Jr., and Marion Kendall Smith. Smith and his second wife divorced in 1957, and in the same year he married Eunice Waters Clark, a professor of French. After spending the last two decades of his life in Arlington, Vermont, Smith died in a nursing home in Williamstown, Massachusetts, in 1977.

Found in 3 Collections and/or Records:

Correspondence, 1932, undated

 Part of Collection — Box 48: [Barcode: 39002137170578], Folder: GROUP 975, F-1
Call Number: YCAL MSS MISC
Scope and Contents:

Three typescript letters, signed, to Smith, from A. S. Lloyd, Russell Potter, and Francis Sill Wickware, commenting on an article by Smith, entitled "Cartwright vs. America," that appeared in Scribner's magazine. With one clipping.

Removed from Scribner's magazine, 91:6, June 1932).

Dates: 1932, undated

Chard Powers Smith papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 324
Abstract: The papers contain writings, correspondence, personal papers, photographs, and family papers of twentieth-century American writer Chard Powers Smith. The collection documents his career through drafts of his writings and through correspondence that reveals his personal and professional relationships with fellow writers, publishers, and literary organizations. The papers also contain information about his family, documenting not only his relationships with family members but also the lives of...
Dates: 1759-1978, bulk 1910-1977

Bernardine Szold-Fritz correspondence

Call Number: YCAL MSS 544

The collection contains correspondence to Bernardine Szold-Fritz from well-known cultural figures from the 20th century.

Dates: circa 1917-1973

Additional filters

Collection 2
Archival Object 1
Authors, American -- 20th Century -- Archives 2
Agrarians (Group of writers) 1
Authors 1
Free America 1
Individualism -- United States 1