Skip to main content

Pittsburgh Authors: Literary Degrees of Separation, Spring 2013 @ Pitt Special Collections: The Writer as Soldier

Exhibit of documents from the Mary Roberts Rinehart Papers (1831-1970), Hervey Allen Papers (1831-1965), Lawrence Lee Papers (1920-1978), Walter and Martha Leuba Collection, Nixon Theatre: Pittsburgh Theatre Collection, and Special Collections

Exhibit Case 1: Writer as Soldier, Writer as War Correspondent

As a soldier fighting on the American Expeditionary Forces, Hervey Allen wrote extensively and kept a diary of his experiences. From these writings Allen produced his most successful poem, “The Blindman” and later works such as Toward the Flame were directly influenced by his wartime observations. Mary Roberts Rinehart also took inspiration from her experiences during the war.  In early 1915, Rinehart asked her Saturday Evening Post editor to send her to Europe to report on World War I prior to U.S. involvement. Rinehart returned to Europe in 1918 to report on the war to the US War Department.  In her 1918 novel, The Amazing Interlude, Rinehart writes about a girl who leaves her fiancé to run a soup kitchen near the front and falls in love with a Belgian aristocrat, both of which were inspired by real life individuals Rinehart met while touring the front. The images below showcase clockwise from top left: Mary Roberts Rinehart's WWI notebook; photo of Hervey Allen as a soldier; a khaki handkerchief in which Allen left behind his war poems as he swam across a river when his company was being attacked; Allen's emergency will written in France during the war.