Following its publication in 1925, The Great Gatsby sold poorly and quickly fell out of print. F. Scott Fitzgerald felt the failure sharply. When he died in 1940 he believed that he and Gatsby were doomed to obscurity. Resurrection of The Great Gatsby, and of Fitzgerald’s reputation, came in the form of one Edmund Wilson, who was Fitzgerald’s Princeton classmate and best friend. It was Wilson, himself an acclaimed editor, who pushed hard in 1941 for the re-publication of The Great Gatsby – and the rest, as they say, is history. Gatsby now sells in the millions, and is considered among the finest of all American Novels.
Advocates like Wilson could be called Literary Torchbearers, loyalists who keep the flame burning for authors who have passed on. Another of these would certainly be Wayne and Dartie Flynt, who befriended To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee in her final years, and recently published Afternoons with Harper Lee, a reminiscence of Lee and their time with her.
We don’t have to look far to find Literary Torchbearers in our midst. One of them is George Getschow, former Dallas bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal, frequent judge for the Pulitzer Prise, and most importantly, a good friend and supporter of Lonesome Dove and The Last Picture Show author Larry McMurtry. Getschow started a workshop for aspiring writers in Archer City, Texas – McMurtry’s home town – in 2005. When McMurtry died in 2021, Getschow gathered many of McMurtry’s friends, family, and colleagues for a dramatic memorial service beneath the Texas Stars. From the energy of this, Getschow solicited essays about McMurtry: Pastures of the Empty Page was published a few months ago. As fate would have it, that’s how George Getschow became Larry McMurtry’s Literary Torchbearer.
Another pair of Literary Torchbearers are John Warley and Jonathan Haupt. Warley was Pat Conroy’s Citadel classmate, baseball teammate, and lifelong friend. As such, Warley was a witness to may of the family dramas that drove Conroy’s work. After Pat’s death, Warley actively supported the Pat Conroy Literary Center, and has appeared on numerous panels discussing Conroy’s work. Jonathan Haupt is the Executive Director of the Pat Conroy Library, Founding Director of the Pat Conroy Literary Festival, and editor of the collection of Pat Conroy essays that was published in 2015, Our Prince of Scribes. Together they continue to keep Conroy’s legacy thriving.
Collectively Haupt, Warly and Getschow will provide a thrilling evening’s discussion on the work of Literary Torchbearers. They will be joined on stage by James Scott, who will perform as moderator. Scott is also an author, Pulitzer nominee and Archer City attendee. Erik Calonius will be providing an introduction to the evening’s talk. Calonius is a former foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal and a writing coach at the Archer City Workshop.
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About George Getschow George Getschow is a Pulitzer Prize finalist for National Reporting and winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Award for distinguished writing about the underprivileged. He has earned numerous other awards for his writing and was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters in 2012 for “distinctive literary achievement.” Today, as director of the Archer City Writers Workshop, he helps organize and conduct annual writing workshops in Archer City for professional writers and college and high school students from across the country.
About John Warley John Warley is an award-winning author, a dedicated dad, and a retired lawyer, having practiced both criminal law as a prosecutor and civil law as a litigator for over forty years. A South Carolinian by birth, he grew up largely in Yorktown, Virginia. He is the award-winning author of five published novels and one non-fiction history of his undergraduate alma mater (Stand Forever, Yielding Never; The Citadel in the 21st Century). Jury of One is his sixth novel.
About Jonathan Haupt Jonathan Haupt is the executive director of the Pat Conroy Literary Center and the founding director of the Pat Conroy Literary Festival. As the former director of the University of South Carolina Press, Haupt created, with the late Pat Conroy, the Story River Books original fiction imprint, named by Garden & Gun magazine as “one of the top ten things to love about the South.” He serves on the boards of the South Carolina Academy of Authors and the Friends of South Carolina Libraries. He has moderated panels and presented on topics of small press and university press publishing, literary arts partnerships, and the writing life of Pat Conroy at writers conferences, library conferences, book festivals, libraries, and schools. With novelist Nicole Seitz, Haupt is coeditor of the anthology Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy.
About James Scott A former Nieman Fellow at Harvard, James M. Scott is the author of Rampage, which was named one of the Best Books of 2018 by the editors at Amazon, Kirkus, and Military Times and was chosen as a finalist for the prestigious Gilder Lehrman Prize for Military History by the New York Historical Society. His other works include Target Tokyo, a 2016 Pulitzer Prize finalist, The War Below, and The Attack on the Liberty, which won the Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison Award. Scott lives with his wife and two children in Mt. Pleasant, SC.