Harry Crews

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Harry Eugene Crews
Born (1935-06-07)June 7, 1935
Alma, Georgia
Died March 28, 2012(2012-03-28) (aged 76)
Gainesville, Florida
Occupation Writer
Nationality American
Genre Novel, short story, essay

Harry Eugene Crews (June 7, 1935 – March 28, 2012) was an American novelist, playwright, short story writer and essayist.

Life and work

Crews was born in Bacon County, Georgia, in 1935[1] and served in the Marines during the Korean War.[2] He attended the University of Florida on the GI Bill, but dropped out to travel. Eventually returning to the university, Crews finally graduated and moved his wife, Sally, and son, Patrick Scott, to Jacksonville where he taught Junior High English for a year.

Crews returned to Gainesville and the university to work on his master's in English Education. It was during this period that he and Sally divorced for the first time. Crews continued his studies, graduated, and – denied entrance into UF's Creative Writing program – took a teaching position at Broward Community College in the subject of English. It was here in south Florida that Crews convinced Sally to return to him, and they were remarried. A second son, Byron, was born to them in 1963. Crews returned to University of Florida in 1968 not as a student, but as a member of the faculty in Creative Writing. Crews formerly taught in the creative writing program at the University of Florida.[3] In 1964, Patrick Scott drowned in a neighbor's pool. This proved to be too heavy a burden on the family, and Crews and Sally were once again divorced.[4]

Crews' first published novel, The Gospel Singer, appeared in 1968.[2] His novels include: A Feast of Snakes, The Hawk Is Dying, Body, Scar Lover, The Knockout Artist, Karate Is A Thing of the Spirit, All We Need of Hell, The Mulching of America, Car, and Celebration. Crews published a memoir in 1978 titled A Childhood: The Biography of a Place. Crews wrote essays for Esquire, Playboy, and Fame. He had a column in Esquire called "Grits" for fourteen months in the 1970s, where he covered such topics as cockfighting and dog fighting.[2] Crews had a tattoo on his right arm which said: "How do you like your blue eyed boy Mr. Death" (from the poem Buffalo Bill's by E.E. Cummings) beneath a skull.[4]

The University of Georgia acquired Harry Crews's papers in August 2006. The archive includes manuscripts and typescripts of his fiction, correspondence, and notes made by Crews while on assignment.[5]

Crews died March 28, 2012, from complications of neuropathy.[6]

In Popular Culture

  • Crews scripted the original draft of 1985 thriller The New Kids, but was not pleased with the finished film; his name does not appear in the credits, which attribute the story and screenplay to Stephen Gyllenhaal and Brian Taggert.[7]
  • Canadian pop band Men Without Hats has a song called "Harry Crews" on their 1991 album Sideways.
  • "Scarlover" is the first track on Maria McKee's 1996 album Life Is Sweet. She thanks Crews in her acknowledgements.
  • Crews was the subject of the first installment of the Rough South documentary series written and directed by Gary Hawkins. The film, entitled The Rough South of Harry Crews won a regional Emmy Award and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's Gold Award in 1992.
  • In 2007, another documentary was released: Harry Crews – Survival is Triumph Enough. The personal format is loosely based on an interview with artist and filmmaker Tyler Turkle, and the themes explored include hardship, tragedy and loss throughout the Crews' life.[9]
  • Kansas City band Season to Risk wrote and recorded a song on their first album in 1993, entitled "Snakes", which is inspired by the Crews novel "A Feast of Snakes"
  • Florida Trend magazine released a posthumous interview with Harry Crews in April 2012. The interview is in Crews' own words, with quotes such as, "I've never begun a novel that I knew how it ended. I just start and try to find out what it is I think about whatever it is I am writing about." Another quote: "Listen, if you want to write about all sweetness and light and that stuff, go get a job at Hallmark." [10]



  • The Gospel Singer, 1968
  • Naked in Garden Hills, 1969
  • This Thing Don't Lead to Heaven, 1970
  • Karate Is a Thing of the Spirit, 1971
  • Car, 1972
  • The Hawk is Dying, 1973
  • The Gypsy's Curse, 1974
  • A Feast of Snakes, 1976
  • All We Need of Hell, 1987
  • The Knockout Artist, 1988
  • Body, 1990
  • Scar Lover, 1992
  • The Mulching of America, 1995
  • Celebration, 1998
  • An American Family: The Baby with the Curious Markings, 2006


  • Florida Frenzy, 1982 [A collection of essays.]
  • Blood and Grits, 1988 [A collection of essays.]
  • Classic Crews: A Harry Crews Reader, 1993 [Includes: Car (1972), The Gypsy's Curse (1974), A Childhood: The Biography of a Place (1978), and the essays, "The Car" (1975), "Climbing the Tower" (1977), and "Fathers, Sons, Blood" (1985).]

Limited Editions

  • The Enthusiast, 1981 [The first chapter of All We Need of Hell, limited edition of 200 signed copies.]
  • Two By Crews, 1984 [Two essays, limited edition of 200 signed copies.]
  • Where Does One Go When There's No Place Left to Go?, 1995/1998 [Published in 1995, along with The Gospel Singer. Reissued separately, in 1998, as a limited edition of 400 signed copies.]


  • A Childhood: The Biography of a Place, 1978
  • — (Winter 2011). "We are all of us passing through" (PDF). The Georgia Review. 65 (4): 723–735. Retrieved February 16, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
    • Reprinted in Henderson, Bill, ed. (2013). The Pushcart Prize XXXVII : best of the small presses 2013. Pushcart Press. pp. 37–49.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  1. Elaine Woo "Harry Crews dies at 76; Southern writer with darkly comic vision", Los Angeles Times, April 1, 2012
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Walt Harrington, ed. (2005). "Contributors". The Beholder's Eye: A Collection of America's Finest Personal Journalism. New York: Grove Press. p. x. ISBN 0-8021-4224-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Department of English". University of Florida. Retrieved August 10, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 Michael Carlson Obituary: Harry Crews, The Guardian, April 10, 2012
  5. "Harry Crews: Biographical Sketch". Retrieved October 24, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Margalit Fox "Harry Crews, Writer of Dark Fiction, Is Dead at 76", New York Times, March 30, 2012
  7. https://books.google.com.au/books?id=W4Tee1PntoQC&pg=PA161&dq=the+new+kids+harry+crews&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CB0Q6wEwAGoVChMIntqW__SexwIVRCimCh3GLQGh#v=onepage&q=the%20new%20kids%20harry%20crews&f=false
  8. Felperin, Leslie (December 17, 2003). "Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus". Variety. Reed Business Information. Retrieved October 6, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Harry Crews: Survival Is Triumph Enough". IMDb. Retrieved August 10, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. http://www.floridatrend.com/article/111/icon-harry-crews

Further reading

External links