James Branch Cabell
James Branch Cabell
James Branch Cabell photographed by
|Died||May 5, 1958 (aged 79)|
James Branch Cabell (
Although escapist, Cabell's works are ironic and satirical. H. L. Mencken disputed Cabell's claim to romanticism and characterized him as "really the most acidulous of all the anti-romantics. His gaudy heroes ... chase dragons precisely as stockbrockers play golf." Cabell saw art as an escape from life, but once the artist creates his ideal world, he finds that it is made up of the same elements that make the real one.
Interest in Cabell declined in the 1930s, a decline that has been attributed in part to his failure to move out of his fantasy niche despite the onset of World War II.
Cabell was born into an affluent and well-connected Virginian family, and lived most of his life in
Although Cabell's surname is often mispronounced "Ka-BELL", he himself pronounced it "CAB-ble." To remind an editor of the correct pronunciation, Cabell composed this rhyme: "Tell the rabble my name is Cabell."
Cabell matriculated at the
1901 was an eventful year for Cabell: his first stories were accepted for publication, and he was suspected of the murder of John Scott, a wealthy Richmonder. It was rumored that Scott was involved romantically with Cabell's mother. Cabell's supposed involvement in the Scott murder and his college "scandal" were both mentioned in Ellen Glasgow's posthumously published (1954) autobiography The Woman Within. In 1902, seven of Cabell's first stories appeared in national magazines and over the next decade he wrote many short stories and articles, contributing to nationally published magazines including
Between 1911 and 1913, he was employed by his uncle in the office of the Branch coal mines in West Virginia. On November 8, 1913, he married Priscilla Bradley Shepherd, a widow with five children from her previous marriage. In 1915, son Ballard Hartwell Cabell was born. Priscilla died in March 1949; Cabell was remarried in June 1950 to Margaret Waller Freeman.
During his life, Cabell published fifty-two books, including novels, genealogies, collections of short stories, poetry, and miscellanea. He was elected to the
Cabell died of a