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This Day in Georgia History

April 11, 1987

Erskine Caldwell Died

Author Erskine Caldwell died in Paradise Valley, Arizona. Born in rural White Oak, Georgia in 1903, Caldwell grew up witnessing the severe plight of poor sharecroppers in the early part of the century, a plight worsened by the Great Depression. With a unique blend of tragedy and comedy, he wrote his most famous works based on these observations. Caldwell gained world renown with the publication of Tobacco Road in 1932, followed by God’s Little Acre the following year. While many in the South were scandalized at Caldwell’s graphic use of sex and violence, his works were nevertheless very popular. In 1937, he and Margaret Bourke-White (his wife at the time) published You Have Seen Their Faces, a photographic essay of poor, white, rural Southerners during the Depression. Altogether Caldwell published twenty-five novels, some one hundred-fifty short stories, and twelve volumes of non-fiction.