Obituary: Newman, professor of English, 67

Charles H. Newman, professor of English in Arts & Sciences, died Monday, March 13, 2006, at Barnes-Jewish Hospital after a lengthy illness. He was 67.

“In mid-career, based on a prodigious output and seemingly limitless potential, Charles Newman was widely seen as one of the most exciting and unusual fiction writers in America,” said David A. Lawton, Ph.D., professor and chair of English.

“In recent years, he has contended with courage against much serious illness. He nevertheless leaves a great legacy of completed work, including his Cannonia trilogy that should guarantee his reputation a second major flowering. He is likely to be remembered, and read, as a major figure.”

Newman earned a bachelor’s degree in American studies honors, summa cum laude, from Yale University in 1960.

He taught at Northwestern University from 1964-1975, then was professor and chair of The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University from 1975-79.

From 1978-85, took a break from academia and was owner/manager of a horse- and dog-breeding farm in Volney, Va., while he was working on his fourth novel, White Jazz, published in 1983.

Newman first came to WUSTL as the Visiting Hurst Professor of Creative Writing in January 1984; in 1985, he was visiting professor of English; and in July 1986, he became a full professor.

His other novels are New Axis (1966), The Promisekeeper (1971) and the three-novella collection There Must Be More to Love Than Death (1976).

He also penned the autobiographical A Child’s History of America (1973). A critical work, The Post-Modern Aura: The Act of Fiction in an Age of Inflation, was published in 1985.

Awards and honors he received included Ingram Merrill and Rockefeller grants for creative writing, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award for Innovative Writing from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.

The body was cremated.

— Andy Clendennen