Bourjaily, Vance Nye

Born: September 17, 1922
Died: August 31, 2010

Ohio connection: Birth


Born in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 17, 1922, Bourjaily’s family moved several times during his youth; he grew up in Connecticut, New York, and Virginia. His parents separated when he was eleven; they were both writers. Bourjaily’s Lebanese-born father was a journalist and publisher, and his mother was a journalist and author of romance fiction. Bourjaily graduated from Handley High School in Winchester, Virginia in 1939, after which he enrolled in Bowdoin College. Leaving college in 1942, he spent two years as a volunteer ambulance corpsman in the Middle East and Italy, then served for two years in the U.S. Army. Those four years of wartime service abroad were a crucible of sorts for Bourjaily; World War II and its meaning for Americans of his generation are central themes of his early fiction. Bourjaily wrote 10 novels; his first The End of My Life, was published in 1947, and it was followed in 1955 with The Hound of Earth.  Brill Among the Ruins was nominated for a National Book Award in 1970. Bourjaily’s last novel was Old Soldier (1990).  

Primarily a novelist, Bourjaily also wrote a number of essays, articles, and plays. Additionally, he was a teacher who spent more than twenty years at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and five years at the University of Arizona prior to becoming the first director of the Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing at Louisiana State University. Bourjaily died August 31, 2010 in Greenbrae, California.

National Book Award nomination for Brill among the Ruins, 1970.
American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, 1993.
D. Litt, Bowdoin College, 1993.