Gladys Schmitt

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Date: 2002
Document Type: Brief biography
Length: 359 words

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About this Person
Born: May 31, 1909 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: October 03, 1972 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Nationality: American
Occupation: College teacher
Other Names: Schmitt, Gladys L.
Updated:May 22, 2002

Family: Born May 30, 1909, in Pittsburgh, PA; died October 3, 1972, in Pittsburgh, PA; daughter of Henry Harry and Leonore E. (Link) Schmitt; married Simon Goldfield (a public housing manager), November 27, 1939; children: Betty Schmitt Culley (a niece, adopted). Education: University of Pittsburgh, B.A., 1932, graduate study, 1932-33. Avocational Interests: Music, theater, reading, entertaining friends, and doing embroidery.


Scholastic Magazines, Pittsburgh, PA, and New York, NY, editor, 1933-42; Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, 1942-72, became professor of English and fine arts.


Dial Press Award for a first novel; Witter Bynner poetry prize; Scholastic poetry prize; honorary LL.D. from University of Pittsburgh, 1961.



  • Gates of Aulis, Dial (New York, NY), 1942.
  • David the King (Literary Guild choice), Dial (New York, NY), 1946, reprinted, 1973.
  • Alexandra, Dial (New York, NY), 1947.
  • Confessors of the Name (Literary Guild selection), Dial (New York, NY), 1952.
  • The Persistent Image, Dial (New York, NY), 1955.
  • A Small Fire, Dial (New York, NY), 1957.
  • Rembrandt (Literary Guild selection), Random House, 1961.
  • The Heroic Deeds of Beowulf, Retold (juvenile), Random House, 1962.
  • Electra (novel), Harcourt, 1965.
  • Boris, the Lopsided Bear (juvenile), Collier, 1966.
  • The Godforgotten, Harcourt, 1972.
  • Sonnets for an Analyst, Harcourt, 1973.
  • I Could be Mute: The Life and Work of Gladys Schmitt, Carnegie-Mellon University Press (Pittsburgh, PA), 1978.



In 1962, Edmund Fuller wrote of Gladys Schmitt's seven novels (1942-61): "None of them has failed to command respectful attention; most have received notable praise; three can be set among the outstanding books of her generation." Whit Burnett once called her "the American Proust," and Diana Trilling has compared her to Willa Cather.

Many of her novels are historical, biographical, or biblical in character. But she also wrote "modern" novels. The recurring themes of her novels, according to Fuller, are "love, in a diversity of modes: the creative process, studied in its sources and behavior in several arts (including living); and God, under whose shadow, in her finest books, the other subjects are always seen. A sub-theme in relation to both God and love, is abnegation or sacrifice, seen both in healthy and sickly forms."




  • Edmund Fuller, Books with Men Behind Them, Random House, 1962;
  • Publishers Weekly, July 3, 1972.*


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Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|H1000088026