Headlines of Yore

How a little-known novel set on the Main Line inspired one of the 20th century’s most prolific authors

James A. Michener, who won a Pulitzer Prize for “Tales from the South Pacific,” credited his start to a title published in 1930.

'Huntsman in the Sky' by Granville E. Toogood served as inspiration for 'Tales of the South Pacific' author James A. Michener

'Huntsman in the Sky' by Granville E. Toogood served as inspiration for 'Tales of the South Pacific' author James A. Michener

Wikimedia Commons

Literary authors aren’t in the business of instant gratification. Books are all about longterm impact on society. That’s as true today as it was a century ago — but even Granville E. Toogood probably didn’t imagine what his single title would spawn.

Published in 1930, “Huntsman in the Sky” was a novel set on the Main Line. It got great reviews and was translated into multiple languages, but Toogood didn’t follow it up, instead becoming an ad exec and then PR director for the Franklin Institute.

However, one of the fans of “Huntsman” was James A. Michener, who credited the novel with inspiring his notable career.

If the name Michener doesn’t immediately ring a bell, he was one of the most prolific American authors of the 20th century. He wrote the book that eventually became the musical “South Pacific” — and won a Pulitzer Prize for it.

Later in life, he also became a philanthropist with the goal of encouraging future writers. You can learn more about him at the Michener Art Museum in his hometown of Doylestown, Pa.

Read on for more details about the connection between these two Philly-area authors in the thread below.

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