Biographical Information:

Dates: 1898-1935
Dates in Ridgefield: lived on North Salem Road

novelist, biographer

Many people have written tales of war, but few as well as Thomas Alexander Boyd. Granville Hicks called his Through the Wheat "one of the earliest and best of the realistic war novels." The book was based on Mr. Boyd's World War I experiences in France where he fought at Belleau Wood and St.-Mihiel, and was with the first American advance through the wheat field at Soissons. He was gassed, and received the Croix de Guerre. Born in 1898 in Ohio, he had joined the Marines at 18. After the war, he worked for newspapers in St. Paul, Minnesota, and opened Kilmarnock Books there. The shop became a literary center, frequented by Sinclair Lewis and F. Scott Fitzgerald, both of whom urged the veteran to write about his war experiences. Fitzgerald later called Through the Wheat, "the best war book since The Red Badge of Courage" and poet James Dickey said that Boyd "raises carnage to the level of vision." Mr. Boyd came to Ridgefield to be near Max Perkins, his editor at Scribner's. He later turned out a series of well-written biographies of notable Americans, including Simon Girty, the White Savage , and Mad Anthony Wayne. The best reviewed was Poor John Fitch, Inventor of the Steamboat, published posthumously, as was a sequel to Through the Wheat, called In Time of Peace. Like many novelists of the time, he also wrote for "the pulps" to make ends meet. His first wife, Margaret Woodward Smith, was often co-author. By the 1930s he was living in Vermont, but returned periodically to Ridgefield. He died of a cerebral hemorrhage in January 1935 at his former home on North Salem Road where he had been staying while his first wife, Margaret Smith Shane, and her husband, Ted Shane, were in Hollywood, working for MGM. "The New York critics declared his death a loss to American literature," his obituary in The Ridgefield Press said. Their only child is Elizabeth Boyd Nash, who later and for many years was an editor of The Press.

Titles (partial):

Through the Wheat, 1923
Simon Girty, the White Savage, 1928
Light-Horse Harry Lee, 1931
Poor John Fitch, Inventor of the Steamboat, 1935
In Time of Peace, 1935

--Source: Notable Ridgefielders-Jack Sanders

Check the library catalog for titles by this author.