Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  James Mellow  

Pen Name: James R. Mellow


Born: Gloucester, Massachusetts

Died: 1997

-- James Mellow on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Mellow graduated from Northwestern University in 1950.

Biographical and Professional Information

James R. Mellow was a writer, editor, art critic, and acclaimed biographer. He wrote a sequence of books that detailed the study of a major episode in American cultural history - ''Charmed Circle: Gertrude Stein & Company'', ''Invented Lives: F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald'', and ''Hemingway: A Life Without Consequences''. His biography of Nathanial Hawthorne, won the National Book Award in 1983. Mellow also wrote for ''The New York Times'', ''Architectural Digest'', ''The Washington Post'', ''Gourmet'', and ''Arts'' magazine, among other publications. Before his death in 1997, James Mellow had one unfinished manuscript on the life of American photographer Walker Evans which was published posthumously.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Charmed Circle: Gertrude Stein and Company
ISBN: 0805073515

Henry Holt and Co.. 2003

Avant-garde Paris comes to life in this “meticulous and loving reconstruction of the period” (The New York Times Book Review)

On almost every Saturday of the first half of the twentieth century, Gertrude Stein would open her door to the likes of Picasso and Matisse, Hemingway and Fitzgerald, Cocteau and Apollinaire, welcoming them into a salon alive with vivid avant-garde paintings and sparkling intellectual conversation. In Charmed Circle, James R. Mellow has re-created this fascinating world and the complex woman who dominated it. His engaging narrative illuminates Stein’s writing—now celebrated along with the work of such literary giants as Joyce and Woolf—including her difficult early periods, which adapted cubism and abstraction to the written word. Rich with detail and insight, it conveys both the serene rhythms of daily life with her devoted partner, Alice B. Toklas, and the radical pulse and dramatic upheavals of her exciting era.

Spanning the years from 1903, when Stein first arrived in Paris, to her final days at the end of the Second World War, Charmed Circle is a penetrating and lively account of a writer at the heart of modernity.

Nathaniel Hawthorne in His Times
ISBN: 0395276020

Houghton Mifflin. 1980

A full-length portrait of one of America's great writers brings to life Hawthorne's experiences and the age he lived in, detailing his courtship of Sophia Peabody and his relationships with Melville, Poe, Emerson, and others

Invented Lives
ISBN: 0345329120

Ballantine Books. 1986

Reconstructs the events in the marriage of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald and analyzes the legend of the Fitzgeralds in terms of the era and society in which they lived

ISBN: 0201626209

Da Capo Press. 1993

"This is a magisterial retelling of who did what with and to whom--Ezra Pound, the Fitzgeralds, the Murphys, Getrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Sylvia Beach and James Joyce, Robert McAlmon, Bryher, H.D., and all the other major and minor players whose personal histories gave the era the aura of golden perfection."--The New York Times Book Review

In this brilliant, elegantly written biography, award-winning author James R. Mellow offers a thorough reassessment of a man who was both a literary giant and an icon for his age. The final volume in Mellow's "Lost Generation" trilogy, Hemingway: A Life Without Consequences is also a homage to Paris in the 1920s and a tribute to the writers and artists who set the indelible standards for the modern age.

"Without it, neither scholar nor layman can claim to have a full understanding of the forces that shaped and ultimately destroyed the talent of a man who is arguably the most influential writer of the twentieth century."--Los Angeles Times

Walker Evans
ISBN: 046509077X

Basic Books. 1999

Walker Evans (1903–1975) is best known as one of the leading documentary photographers of the Depression Era, and for his photographs of Alabama sharecroppers in James Agee's Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. His FSA photographs have become icons in the American consciousness, and are perhaps the most influential body of photographic work in this century.But Evans was not the propagandist for social causes he was presumed to be he was, instead, a fastidious observer, recording, simply, the way things were. His instinctive aversion to “artiness” contrasted him sharply from his senior Alfred Stieglitz, and his immediate contemporary, Ansel Adams. Evans' eye took him toward the dusty particulars, the backroads of American life, its rundown mill towns, roadside stands, torn movie posters and advertisements for departed minstrel shows. He developed a peculiarly American vernacular, his particular trademark that makes an Evans photograph almost instantly recognizable.With unrestricted access to all of Evans' diaries, letters, work logs and contact sheets, James R. Mellow has produced one of the most finely wrought portraits of a major American artist ever. Also, it is a deeply informed cultural history of the 1930s and '40s and a lively account of friendships and influences with the likes of Lincoln Kirstein and James Agee.


American Book Award and Guggenheim fellowship in 1983 for

Nathaniel Hawthorne in His Times

Speaking Engagements

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