Side A: William Dean Howells
"The Dean of American Letters"
Author, editor, and social critic William Dean Howells (1837-1920) was born in Martins Ferry, the son of an itinerant printer and publisher. Self-educated, Howells learned the printer's craft early and took up journalism, rising to city editor of the Ohio State Journal (Columbus) in 1858. From 1871 to 1881, he was editor of the Atlantic Monthly magazine, a position of enormous influence in American literary tastes. Howells championed the work of Emily Dickenson, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and Stephen Crane, as well as several others. A prolific writer himself, he published over one hundred works. Howells is best known for his realistic fiction, including A Modern Instance (1882) and The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885). Many of his novels reflect his Ohio roots.
Side B: Poet James Arlington Wright
James Arlington Wright was born in Martins Ferry on December 13, 1927. Wright's early life during the depression years was difficult, but he graduated as valedictorian from Martins Ferry High School in 1946. Wright later taught at the University of Minnesota and Hunter College (NY). A prolific writer, Wright published numerous books and volumes of his poetry, many of which included people and settings from Martins Ferry. In 1972, Wright was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in Literature. Wright died on March 25, 1980. Every April, Martins Ferry celebrates the James Wright Poetry Festival.