John Richard Hersey (June 17, 1914 – March 24, 1993) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American writer and journalist considered one of the earliest practitioners of the so-called New Journalism, in which storytelling devices of the novel are fused with non-fiction reportage.
Born in China, to missionaries, Roscoe and Grace Baird Hersey, Hersey returned to the United States with his family when he was ten years old. Later, Hersey attended Yale University, where he was a member of Skull and Bones Society. He subsequently was a graduate student at Cambridge as a Mellon Fellow. Following his time at Cambridge, Hersey got a summer job as private secretary and driver for author Sinclair Lewis in 1937, but he chafed at his duties, and that fall he began work at Time, where he was hire after writing an essay on the magazine's dismal quality.
During World War II, Hersey covered fighting in Europe as well as Asia, writing articles for Time as well as Life magazine. He accompanied Allied troops on their invasion of Sicily, survived four airplane crashes, and was commended by the Secretary of the Navy for his role in helping evacuate wounded soldiers from Guadalcanal.
At the close of the conflict, during the winter of 1945–46, Hersey was in Japan, reporting for The New Yorker on the reconstruction of the devastated country. He proposed a story that would convey the cataclysmic narrative through six individuals who survived. The result was his most notable work, the 31,000-word article "Hiroshima," which appeared in the August 31, 1946 issue of The New Yorker.
Jane Neylan McBaine Childs (1914-2005) was a painter and society hostess in Washington, D.C.
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Acquisition Note: Source: Gift of Naomi Lebowitz.
Originally laid in A Bell for Adano by John Hersey. PS3515 E7723 B4 1944
Accession number 22987
Preferred Citation:Name of the Collection, Washington University Libraries, Department of Special Collections