Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Obituary: Austin M. Wright, 80, writer, teacher

Retired UC professor published 7 novels

By Rebecca Goodman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Dr. Wright

Austin M. Wright - professor emeritus of English at the University of Cincinnati, novelist and storytelling authority - died April 23 at Maple Knoll Village in Springdale following a short illness. The Clifton resident was 80.

Dr. Wright taught at UC's McMicken College of Arts and Sciences for 23 years before his retirement in 1993.

He was the recipient of the Mrs. AB "Dolly" Cohen Award for excellence in teaching in 1967 and the George Rieveschl Jr. Award for excellence in scholarly or creative work in 1974.

He was also named the Charles Phelps Taft professor of English language and literature by the College of Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Wright published seven novels. His first was Camden's Eyes in 1969. It was a critical success, garnering the admiration of fellow writers, said his wife, Sara Hull Wright.

His most popular novel was Tony and Susan (1993), an innovative story within-a story, in which the protagonist sends a copy of his novel to his ex-wife. The reader gets to read the novel as well as the story of the author's life.

Dr. Wright's most recent book was Disciples, an exploration of religious fanaticism, published in 1997.

Born in Yonkers, N.Y., in 1922, Dr. Wright grew up in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., and graduated from Harvard University in 1943 with a degree in geology.

He spent three years with the Army (1943-46), which included a year in China. After his return, he studied English and American literature at the University of Chicago, where he received a master's degree in 1948 and a Ph.D. in 1959.

In addition to his novels, Dr. Wright published several scholarly works, including Formal Principle in the Novel, in 1982.

He was preceded in death by a daughter, Joanna, in 2000.

In addition to his wife of 52 years, survivors include two other daughters, Katharine Wright of State College, Pa., and Margaret Wright of Philadelphia; a sister, Mary Toynbee of Salt Spring Island, British Columbia; and two granddaughters.

A memorial service will be 3-5 p.m. May 7 at the University of Cincinnati Faculty Club.

Memorials are suggested to a charity of the donor's choice.


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