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July 23, 1919: Novelist Davis Grubb Born in Moundsville

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e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia
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Novelist Davis Grubb was born in Moundsville on July 23, 1919. He came from a prosperous background, but his family was hit badly by the Great Depression and evicted from their home. The incident likely influenced his later writings, which often criticized politicians and wealthy capitalists.

He first tried his hand as a graphic artist but realized his writing talents were more marketable. Grubb’s first commercial writing endeavor was a script for a 1939 radio show that aired in Clarksburg. He also acted in the show.

Grubb gained instant notoriety in 1953, when his first novel was published. The Night of the Hunter loosely retold the story of Harry Powers, West Virginia’s deadliest serial killer. In 1955, The Night of the Hunter was made into a classic film starring Robert Mitchum.

Most of Davis Grubbs’s 11 books were set in Appalachia. In 1971, his novel Fool’s Parade was turned into a movie starring Jimmy Stewart and George Kennedy, with scenes shot on location in Moundsville.

In 1977, Grubb returned to West Virginia for a statewide speaking tour that lasted two years. He died in 1980 at the age of  61.


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