Saturday, July 3, 2010

Harold Bell Wright

Harold Bell Wright (1872–1944) = Painter, Itinerant Minister, & Author. Born in Rome, NY on May 4, 1872 to William A. and Alma Watson Wright. The year he was eleven was momentous to the young lad; he quit school to help out at home, his mother died, his family broke up and he was farmed out as hired help.
He had a hard life as a young man. He wandered around, working at all sorts of odd jobs, chopping wood, washing dishes, selling magazine subscriptions, and once clerked for a bookstore owner where he was able to read books in his off hours. Wanting to better himself, he apprenticed himself to a painter. An evangelist hired him to paint signs for a revival. He attended the revival which changed the direction of his life
He attended two years of Hiram College, working and studying until the physical strain of his exhausting schedule caught up with him. He was put into a dark room for several months to rest his eyes. He said his faith carried him through those dark days.
Harold traveled to Missouri to visit his Uncle Ben. He stayed there awhile, visiting the Ozark region, painting scenery, until a hillbilly came to him, asking him to preach when an evangelist failed to show up for a revival meeting. Harold preached in various churches in Missouri and Kansas. He wrote a story to read to his congregation, in Pittsburgh, KS., in installments. That was his first book, "That Printer of Udell." Because of failing health, he left the ministry, moving to Arizona, and began to write other novels, clean ones with Christian principles. His second book was published in 1907, called "The Shepherd of the Hills," based in Mutton Hollow (Branson, MO.)

More to Read:
1. Harold Bell Wright; The Miracle of the Ozarks. Written by his son, Norman Wright & Harold is played by his grandson, Michael. A Wright Family Video, Burbank, CA.; 1987.
2. Harold Bell Wright: Storyteller to America. By Lawrence V. Tagg. 1986
3. "Harold Bell Wright" by Henry G. Tinsley. Sunset Magazine. 1918.
4. Webster's Biographical Dictionary. G & C. Merriam, 1956.
5. Findagrave #11360

Books by Harold Bell Wright = That Printer of Udells; The Shepherd of the Hills; The Calling of Dan Matthews; The Uncrowned King; The Winning of Barbara Worth; Their Yesterdays; The Eyes of the World; When a Man's a Man; The Re-Creation of Brian Kent; Helen of the Old House; The Mine with an Iron Door; A Son of His Father; God and the Grocery-man; Long Ago Told; Exit; Ma Cinderella; The Man Who Went Away; and To My Sons.

Note: In 1941, John Wayne played in the film version of "The Shepherd of the Hills." However, if you don't have access to the film, you can listen to an approximately 8-hour and 7-minute podcast audio version of the book here. 

Places to Visit:
1. Harold Bell Wright Museum, 404 N. Walnut St., Pierce City, MO.
2. Shepherd of the Hills cemetery, 5586 W. Route 76, Branson, MO.
3. Shepherd of the Hills Outdoor Drama, 5586 W. Route 76, Branson, MO.

A Quote by Harold Bell Wright:
"If I were to write a story without regard for its effect upon the mental and spiritual health of my readers, I would be committing a crime for which our laws provide no adequate punishment. I view pencil and paper as the most deadly weapons ever placed in the hands of a reckless soul. The real social enemies of our day are those who in story, play, or picture make vice fascinating and present thugs and murderers in heroic guise for the worship of young children too young to detect the lie."