Burton Rascoe

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Burton Rascoe

Burton Rascoe

“All that I can say is that Oklahoma is one of the very finest…a state I love from the prairies to the colorful mountains of the old Indian Territory…and from the skyscrapers of [the] city to the cyclone cellar I used to duck into…I have written with deep affection about Oklahoma.”
Burton Rascoe, 1944


Burton Rascoe was born in Kentucky and moved with his parents to Shawnee in 1903. Burton delivered papers for the Shawnee Herald and spent hour after hour listening to the newsmen prepare their stories. At the age of 14, he wrote an editorial challenging the claim of an Eastern physician that consumption engendered genius and so impressed the city editor that he was given a regular column in the newspaper (1908-1911). After his high school graduation in 1911, Rascoe moved to Chicago, Illinois, and became a University of Chicago campus reporter for the Chicago Tribune, where he later worked as an editor and literary critic. His talented writing ability took him to the heights of his profession and included distinguished work in such magazines as The Nation, McCall’s, The New Republic, and Vanity Fair. By the age of 30, Rascoe was literary editor of the New York Tribune and was regarded in the Yale Review as one of the three most important literary critics in America. He was also the celebrated author of many books including, The Joys of Reading(1937), Belle Star: The Bandit Queen (1941), and his controversial autobiography, Before I Forget (1936).

Fun fact

Burton Rascoe began his writing career while working as a paper boy for the Shawnee Herald. An eccentric staff member, Shannon Mountjoy often said, “This boy is a genius,” and helped Burton get his editorial, Consumption and Genius, published in the newspaper when he was only 14 years old.

Oklahoma connections

Rascoe came with his parents to Shawnee in 1903.









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