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MOBILE: WILLIAM MARCH, ALBERT MURRAY & EUGENE WALTER

          
  William March
William March
Albert Murray
Albert Murray
(Photo by Jeanie Thompson)
Eugene Walter
Eugene Walter
 

Well. I don't think my household was scattered. I think the creatures were scattered. Eugene Walter to interviewer Don Noble of Alabama Public Television.

Eugene WalterEugene Walter was raised in his grandmother's Mobile, Alabama cottage where he was amused by the "ancient creatures" of her vintage who dazzled him with their Gulf Coast stories. As a boy, Eugene staged puppet shows. As a man of the world - New York, Paris, Rome - he staged dinner parties featuring cat "ballets," and he claimed guest lists that included Judy Garland, Truman Capote, Richard Wright, William Faulkner and T.S. Eliot. The Mobile novelist of The Untidy Pilgrim, an appropriate title for the global venturer's autobiographical fiction, returned home after launching The Paris Review and playing bit roles in some of Federico Fellini's movies. His writing provides charming departures from the Southern Gothic school of writing. "I William Marchcouldn't do gloom and doom," Eugene said. "It just ain't in me."

Mobile's bayside mystique inspired the gothic setting for William March's The Bad Seed, the psychological thriller that became a Broadway play and controversial smash movie in the 1950s. March chronicled the anguish of the early 20th Century in Company K, a collection of fictional testimonials by World War I soldiers. The author himself was a veteran of the war. After the war, he helped to establish the Waterman Steamship Corporation in Mobile and opened the company's Manhattan office in 1928. In New York, March flourished as a writer and won the admiration of another budding author from the South, Carson McCullers. He brought her manuscript The Mute to a publisher's attention. It became The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.

Albert Murray (photo by Dwayne Freeman)Albert Murray's success as a student at Mobile County Training School won him a scholarship to Tuskegee University where he became interested in writing. Ultimately he also settled in New York in 1962 and wrote South to a Very Old Place, a Harper's memoir based upon a return trip to his native region. Essays, notably about music, and novels followed including Train Whistle Guitar, the recipient of the Lillian Smith Book Award and Alabama Author Award for 1974-75. In 1998, Murray received the Harper Lee Award for Alabama's Distinguished Writer. He has served on the board of directors for Jazz at Lincoln Center, a program that he helped to establish.

In Stomping the Blues, Albert Murray exclaimed that blues music is not intended to be "synonymous with low spirits...Not only is its express purpose to make people feel good, which is to say high spirits, but in the process of doing so it is actually expected to generate a disposition that is both elegantly playful and heroic in its nonchalance." Murray could have been describing Mobile, an "elegantly playful" city with one of Alabama's most hospitable dispositions.

  Eugene Walter in Paris, France Eugene Water in Paris, France Eugene Water in Paris, France  
  Eugene Walter in Paris, France   

 

  Downtown Park, Mobile Cathedral, downtown Mobile Oakleigh Mansion, Mobile  
 

Downtown Park

Cathedral, downtown Mobile

Oakleigh Mansion

 

 

  Encyclopedia of Alabama

For more information on William March, Albert Murray, and Eugene Walter, link here to their listing in the Encyclopedia of Alabama supported by the Alabama Humanities Foundation.

> William March
> Albert Murray
> Eugene Walter

Alabama Humanities Foundation  

 
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