How a Little-Known Montgomery County Author Inspired Bucks County’s Most Renowned Literary Figure


book cover
Image via Wikimedia Commons at Billy Penn.
This obscure book by a Montgomery County author inspired a much better known one.

1930s novelist Granville E. Toogood is a Montgomery County figure lost to the ages. He was Whitemarsh Township resident, newspaperman, novelist, and squash player at Merion Cricket Club. But his influence, especially on another local literary star, makes his name worth resurrecting, as Avi Wolfman-Arent did in Billy Penn.

Toogood’s influential work was Huntsman in the Sky, a novel with a Main Line setting.

Years later, Doylestown native James A. Michener was navigating a teaching career, which he launched at The Hill School, Pottstown. He was beginning to tire of the classroom, wondering if he could answer his literary calling. When he obtained a copy of Huntsman and read it, the strength of the narrative convinced him he could do likewise.

He soon swapped teaching for authorship.

Without digesting the Toogood work, Michener later wrote for the Inquirer, “I might have never developed into a writer.”

By 1947, Michener had published his most renown book, Tales of the South Pacific, a collection of short stories that went onto inspire South Pacific, a Pulitzer Prize-winning musical that ran on Broadway and yielded two movie versions.

His esteemed literary career included more than 40 books; he passed in 1997 at the age of 90.

More on the literary link between Granville E. Toogood and James A. Michener is at Billy Penn.

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