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Dates in Ridgefield: 1960s-early 1970s
novelist, historical fiction, mystery writer, columnist
Ridgefield has been home to countless writers, but none as prolific as Howard Fast. The high school drop-out published his first novel in 1933 -- before he was 20 -- and by the turn of the 21st Century had written more than 80 books under his own name and a few mysteries as E. V. Cunningham. Copies of Fast titles have been printed in a dozen languages, and many stay in print for years, making him (as he claimed) perhaps the most widely-read writer of the 20th Century. "Howard is bored to death when he's not writing," said his wife, Bette, in a 1989
interview. Born in 1914 in New York City, the son of a factory worker, Mr. Fast joined the Communist Party in the 1930s, a fact that later got him blacklisted; even his famous patriotic book,
Citizen Tom Paine
, long a classroom classic, was banned for a while in the New York City schools because he was a Communist. He was jailed for three months in 1950 for refusing to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. In 1952, he ran for Congress on the American Labor Party ticket and in 1954 won the Stalin Peace Prize. In
, a memoir, he recounts his experience as a member of the Communist Party USA from 1943 to 1956. But in 1956, he broke with the Communist Party and began a renewed career. Many of his books have been made into movies; the most famous is Stanley Kubrick's
, starring Kirk Douglas. Mr. Fast lived on Florida Hill Road in the 1960s and early 1970s, and among the books he wrote while here was
, a Revolutionary War novel set in and about Ridgefield. As are several of his classics, it is still taught in many schools today. Among his other popular books, mostly historical novels, are
Freedom Road, April Morning,
The Last Frontier
. He produced a novel entitled
Freedom Road (American History Through Literature),
Seven Days in June
A Novel of the American Revolution
–Sources: Notable Ridgefielders-Jack Sanders; Political Affairs Magazine, 2009
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