James Branch Cabell (14 April, 1879 – 5 May, 1958) was a Virginian author known for writing fantasy fiction, comedies, short stories, essays, as well as poetry. He is known for the 18-volume collection called the Biography of the Life of Manuel.
Fun Facts about James Branch Cabell:
- Born at his grandmother’s house in Richmond, Virginia, James Branch Cabell lived in the town his whole life. The Cabell family was very influential in the area.
- The author was born only two years after Reconstruction ended, and he witnessed the Panic of 1893, The Great Depression, both World Wars, the suffrage movement, Prohibition, and the civil rights movement.
A lot for one lifetime.
- The family name was often mispronounced as “Ka-Bell”, however it’s supposed to be pronounced as “Cab-le”. To remind people of the correct pronunciation, the author composed a short rhyme: “Tell the rabble my name is Cabell”.
- At age 15, the future author entered the College of William and Mary, where he even taught undergraduates French and Greek.
- After graduating he worked as a reporter in New York City but went back to Richmond soon.
- In his early life he dealt with several vicious false rumors. In William and Mary it was rumored he has an affair with a male teacher, and upon returning to Richmond it was rumor he murdered a cousin who allegedly had an affair with a cousin. The killers were found, but it would have damaged the Cabell name and the author spent the rest of this life fighting falsehoods.
- In 1919 he published Jurgen, telling of a medieval man who has a series of liaisons with a vampire, a goddess, and maidens before settling down in holy matrimony. The story was thought to be obscene, the printing plates seized, and the book banned. James Branch Cabell, however, became America’s most discussed author. After the obscenity trial was ruled in his favor, Jurgen became a best-seller, as often happens with banned books, and Cabell became an idol for a whole generation.
- Cabell married Rebecca Priscilla Bradley Shepherd (Percie), a rich widow with five children. Together they had a child, Ballard Hartwell Cabell, who was born with Down Syndrome. Mr. Cabell loved his son very much, describing him as “exceptional”.
- Both Mr. Cabell and his wife were very active in Virginia societies. He was the genealogist for the Sons of the American Revolution, historian for the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Virginia and as an editor for the Virginia War History Commission and other societies.
- Even though James Branch Cabell is not well known today, during his lifetime he was admired by his peers including Mark Twain, Sinclair Lewis, H. L. Mencken, and others.
Zohar – Man of la Book
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