His novels captured the desperation of poverty in Georgia and seared that image into the American psyche.
Erskine Caldwell was born in Coweta County in 1903, the son of a home missionary. Caldwell witnessed firsthand the grinding poverty of poor blacks and whites. He wanted his writing to bring their plight to the wider world.
Caldwell’s early work caught the attention of Maxwell Perkins, the legendary Scribner’s editor, and he published Caldwell’s controversial novel Tobacco Road in 1932. God’s Little Acre followed the next year and together they offered a bleak, unromanticized indictment of life in Georgia -- a stark contrast with the gentility of Southern life in books like Gone with the Wind.
Many critics denounced Caldwell for perpetuating stereotypes, but his work remained popular and influential: God’s Little Acre sold more than 10 million copies and Tobacco Road was named one of the 100 best novels of the 20th century.
The writer who shined a bright light on the dark side of Southern life was born in Coweta County on December 17, 1903, Today in Georgia History.
Today in Georgia History is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.