1988 Notable Authors

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Richard N. Current
William B Hesseltine
Margot Peters

Richard N. Current, 1912-

Richard Nelson Current has a long and illustrious relationship with Wisconsin as a student, professor, and writer of Wisconsin history. He was born October 5, 1912, in Colorado City, Colorado to Park Curry and Anna (Christiansen) Current. He received a B.A. from Oberlin College in 1934 and the following year an M.A. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. After completing his Ph.D. in history at the University of Wisconsin in 1940, he taught at Rutgers University, Hamilton College (N.Y.), Northern Michigan University (Marquette), and Lawrence University. Between 1947 and 1960 Current taught at several institutions, among them the University of Illinois where he was promoted to full professor, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where he served as professor and head of the department of history. In 1960 he returned to the University of Wisconsin as professor of history. Since 1966 he has been Distinguished Professor of American History at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He recently retired and is living in Massachusetts where he continues to pursue historical research.

Recognized as an eminent scholar of American history, Current has published more than 20 books on pre-Civil War and Civil War history. His major contributions to Wisconsin history are: Pine Logs and Politics: A Life of Philetus Sawyer, 1816-1900 (1950), The Civil War Era, 1848-1873: The History of Wisconsin, Volume 2 (1976), and Wisconsin: A Bicentennial History (1977).

He has won several awards for his writing, including the 1956 Bancroft Prize for Lincoln the President; Last Full Measure and the 1977 George Banta Award from the Wisconsin Library Association for The Civil War Era. Numerous other honors attest to his excellence as a scholar and teacher. Among them are: the O. Max Gardner Prize from the University of North Carolina (1960), M.A. from Oxford University (1962), Fulbright lecturer (1959, 1963, 1965, 1966), Fulbright professor (1968), PACE program lecturer in Antarctica (1971), and President of the Southern Historical Association (1974-75).

Selected Writings:

Pine Logs and Politics: A Life of Philetus Sawyer, 1816-1900, 1950
Lincoln the President: Last Full Measure, 1955
Lincoln Nobody Knows, 1958
Lincoln and the First Shot, 1963
Three Carpetbag Governors, 1967
The Civil War Era, 1848-1873, History of Wisconsin, vol. 2, 1976
Wisconsin: A Bicentennial History, 1977
Old Thad Stevens, A Story of Ambition, 1980
The Political Thought of Abraham Lincoln, 1985
Arguing with Historians: Essays on the Historical and the Unhistorical, 1987
Those Terrible Carpetbaggers, 1988

William B. Hesseltine, 1902-1963

William Best Hesseltine, Vilas professor of history at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, was born in Brucetown, Virginia on February 21, 1902. He retained strong Southern connections throughout his life. A graduate of Washington and Lee University (1922), he taught for a few years in Alabama and Missouri before resuming his studies at the University of Virginia, where he received his M.A. degree, and at Ohio State University where he completed his doctorate in 1928. He published his first two books while serving on the faculty of the University of Chattanooga. In 1932, he came to the University of Wisconsin as an assistant professor. He remained on the faculty of the Department of History for the next 31 years.

Devoting himself to the Civil War period in American History, Professor Hesseltine wrote more than a dozen books and hundreds of articles. From the beginning of his writing career, his books were significant contributions to the scholarly community, and interesting and accessible to lay readers. Among his most important works are Civil War Prisons (1930), Ulysses S. Grant, Politician (1935), and Lincoln and the War Governors (1948).

His flair for the dramatic and his gift for illuminating the paradoxes of history enriched both his writing and his speaking. He is remembered as a truly remarkable teacher. In addition to his contributions to historical scholarship, he exerted enormous influence upon his profession through his training of graduate students. A measure of his enduring influence is that six of his titles are still available in print twenty-five years after his death.

His later career was marked by the accumulating recognition of his peers. He was awarded honorary degrees from Washington and Lee University and Knox College. In 1961, he served as president of the Southern Historical Association, and at the time of his death in 1963 he was president of the Wisconsin State Historical Society. His productivity as an author continued to the end of his life. The historical journals which carried his obituary also featured the announcement of the paperback publication of his Third Party Movements in the U.S. and the first edition of his Lincoln's Plan for Reconstruction.

Selected Writings:

Confederate Leaders in the New South, 1950
Lincoln and the War Governors, 1948
Lincoln's Plan of Reconstruction, 1967
Civil War Prisons, 1930
The Tragic Conflict: the Civil War and Reconstruction, 1962
Trimmers, Trucklers and Temporizers: Notes of Murat Halstead from the Political Conventions of 1856, 1961
Ulysses S. Grant, Politician, 1957
The South in American History, 1943

Margot Peters, 1933-

Margot Peters was born and raised in Wausau, Wisconsin. She is the daughter of Edgar and Elsie McCullough. Her love of literature and writing, which is so evident in her published works, has its roots with her parents.

She is a Wisconsin author in the truest sense of the term. Her undergraduate and graduate degrees are all from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. The author has taught at Northland College in Ashland, and since 1963 has taught English literature at UW-Whitewater where she is now full professor. In addition, she had held the Kathe Tappe Vemon Chair of biography at Dartmouth College, has lectured at Harvard University, and served as the juror, for the American Book Award, the National Medal for Literature, and the Pulitzer Prize. Margot Peters' first book (1973) was a reworking of her Ph. D. thesis, Charlotte Bronte: Style in the Novel. This was followed (1975) by Unquiet Soul: A Biography of Charlotte Bronte for which she received the Friends of American Writers cash award for best work of prose that year. Bernard Shaw and the Actresses brought her the 1981 Banta Award from the Wisconsin Library Association. In 1985 she was again the recipient of both awards for Mrs. Pat: The Life of Mrs. Patrick Campbell. In addition to these books, she has written numerous essays on George Bernard Shaw, Charlotte Bronte, women's studies, biography, and detective fiction.

She is currently devoting full time to the completion of the first major critical biography of the "Royal Family" of the American theatre: Ethel, John, and Lionel Barrymore, which explores their theatre and film careers in a historical context. A 1987 Rockefeller Resident Fellowship at the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research allowed the author access to important archival materials. Two additional grants, a Guggenheim Fellowship and a grant from the Wisconsin Institute for Fellowship Research in the Humanities enabled the author to take the 1988/89 academic year off from teaching to finish the Barrymore work. Margot Peters resides in Lake Mills with her husband Peter Jordan.

Selected Writings:

Charlotte Bronte: Style in the Novel, 1973
Unquiet Soul: A Biography of Charlotte Bronte, 1975
Bernard Shaw and the Actresses, 1980
Mrs. Pat: the Life of Mrs. Patrick Campbell, 1984
"Charlotte Bronte: A Critico - Biolographical Survey - 1945-74" In British Studies Monitor, VI & VII (Summer 1976, Winter 1977)
"Mrs. Warren's Profession: An Introduction to the Manuscripts." In the Facsimile Edition of Bernard Shaw Plays, 1980
"As Lonely as God." In The Genius of Bernard Shaw, by Michael Holroyd, 1979