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Writer John Herrmann earned the admiration of his peers for his novels entitled What Happens, 1925; Summer Is Ended, 1933; and The Salesman, 1939. His first book, about a young man coming of age in America, was published in France in 1925 but was banned for publication in the United States. Herrmann was regarded a sensitive and delicate writer whose work was appreciated by other writers and publishers, though his output was small.
During the 1920s, Herrmann was part of the circle of expatriate American writers in Paris, where he met and befriended writers Ernest Hemingway and Josephine Herbst. Herrmann and Josephine Herbst married in New York in 1926, where Herrmann worked as a publisher's salesman. Two years later, they moved to Erwinna, Bucks County because the area offered peacefulness necessary for writing and an affordable cost of living.
During the 1930s, Herrmann became active with the communist movement. He emerged a more mature writer in Summer Is Ended, a novel written in Erwinna in 1933.
After his separation from Herbst, in 1934-their divorce was finalized in 1940-he maintained his political involvement. His final novel, The Salesman, was published in 1939. The following year, when the FBI began to investigate his communist activities, he and his second wife moved to Mexico, where they remained until his death in 1959. He died at age 59.
John Herrmann sailing, c. 1927. Image courtesy of Elinor Langer.
Education and Training
Studied Art History, Munich, Germany, early 1920s
Writer, Robert McAlmon's Contact Publishing Company, Paris, France, 1920s
Teachers and Influences
Josephine Herbst, Robert McAlmon, Nathan Asch, Katherine Anne Porter, John Dos Passos.
While working in Paris, Herrmann had contact with writers James Joyce and Ezra Pound. He was a close friend of Ernest Hemingway.
Connection to Bucks County
In 1928, John Herrmann and Josephine Herbst bought a 17th century stone farmhouse and 15 acres of land in Erwinna, Pennsylvania. They paid $2500 for the farm located on Upper Tinicum Church Road. They were among the first writers of their generation to settle in the Erwinna area. They chose the region because Herbst's mother had regaled her with tales of an idyllic childhood in Quakertown and because Bucks County offered peacefulness necessary for writing and an affordable cost of living. John would travel as a publisher's salesman for extended periods of time, but Erwinna was home. Together, the couple traveled to Mexico and to Key West in Florida to visit Ernest Hemingway.
Colleagues and Affiliations
His wife, writer Josephine Herbst; writers Nathanael West, Laura and S.J. Perelman, and Katherine Anne Porte
While living in Erwinna, Herbst and Herrmann wrote the short storyPennsylvania Idyll together. His novel, Summer Is Ended was written in Erwinna and published in 1933.
The couple attracted other authors to Erwinna, including Nathanael West, who moved to the area with his sister Laura Perelman and brother-in-law S.J. Perelman after visiting the Herrmann's.
John Herrmann became active with the Farmer's Movement in Bucks County. During the Great Depression, he joined the United Farmer's Protective Association in the march on the county seat in Doylestown. He was actively involved with the communist party. Josephine Herbst sympathized with some of their ideas but was not an active member.
Novels and Short Stories
What Happens, 1925, France, 1927
Pennsylvania Idyll with Josephine Herbst, 1929
Summer is Ended, 1933
The Salesman, 1939
Plus, he wrote many short stories.
Teaching and Professional Appointments
Invited to work as an assistant to Hal Ware in promoting the Communist Party, Washington, D.C., 1934
Scribner's Literary Prize, The Big Short Trip, shared with Thomas Wolfe, 1932
Affiliations and Memberships
Supported the Farmer's Movement in Bucks County during the Great Depression
The United Farmer's Protective Association
John Herrmann sailing
Josephine Herbst and John Herrmann, passport picture
Home of Josephine Herbst and John Herrmann
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