Harrison, Jim

Harrison, Jim (James Thomas Harrison), 1937–2016, American novelist, poet, and essayist, b. Grayling, Mich., grad. Michigan State Univ. (B.A., 1960; M.A., 1965). He began his writing career as a poet; his first collection, Plain Song (1965), was followed by 13 more volumes of verse, among them Letters to Yesenin (1973), The Theory and Practice of Rivers (1985), Saving Daylight (2006), and Dead Man's Float (2015). Harrison wrote 21 works of fiction and is considered a master of the novella, most famously the three that constitute Legends of the Fall (1979). The title tale, of three Montana brothers in their wilderness home and during World War I, became a popular 1994 film for which Harrison wrote the screenplay. His other works in the form include Julip (1994), The Summer He Didn't Die (2005), Brown Dog (2013), and The Ancient Minstrel (2016). Harrison was a devoted outdoorsman, and much of his vivid poetry and fiction concerns nature, men contending with the wilderness, and the life and landscape of rural America. Though his themes are considered masculine, he created memorable female characters, as in the novel Dalva (1988). Among his other novels are Wolf (1971), A Good Day to Die (1973), Warlock (1981), Sundog (1984), and such later works as True North (2004), The English Major (2008), The Great Leader (2011), and its sequel, The Big Seven (2015). Harrison also wrote essays on food and other subjects and a memoir, Off to the Side (2002).

See R. Demott, ed., Conversations with Jim Harrison (2002); biography by E. C. Reilly (1996); study by P. A. Smith (2002); G. Orr and B. Torrey, Jim Harrison: A Comprehensive Bibliography, 1964–2008 (2009).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: American Literature: Biographies