Famous Author Arthur H. Lewis Remembers Mahanoy City


The following article appeared in the New York Times Book Review on December 1, 1963, a few months after Mahanoy City had celebrated it's centennial. The editors of the book review asked some of the best selling authors of the previous year to describe what they got out writing successful books besides the monetary gain. Some of the authors who responded were: James A. Michener, Milton S. Eisenhower, Margaret Bourke - White, Betty Friedan and Jessica Mitford. The response of Arthur Lewis, a native of Mahanoy City, appears below. His best selling book of 1963 was The Day They Shook the Plum Tree. Some of his other best sellers are pictured below.





Mahanoy City, PA, where I was born in 1906, is a brave little hard-coal borough which had the courage to celebrate its centennial a few months ago. I'm not quite sure what it had to celebrate. They've just about stopped mining anthracite and no new industry has taken its place; the town's population is less than half of what it was 50 years ago; business is awful, and John L. Lewis's pension fund, which barely supports miners who've survived asthma and accidents, is practically depleted.


This past May, Zel Snyder, the librarian, asked me if I'd come for the centennial and have lunch with her and the Board of Directors. They rounded up 150 people, all willing to spend $2 I know they could have put to better use, just to say "hello", shake hands with me, and ask for my autograph.


My Latin teacher ( with whom I'd been in love through Caesar, Cicero,and Virgil), quite a number of the remaining members of the Class of '23, the star basketball player of the 1922 State Champs, the Chief Burgess, the Editor of the Record American, a banker and plenty of others were there. Zel made a delightful flattering introductory speech. My gift, a desk set carved out of anthracite, topped off the unforgettable hour. " To Art, from his Mahanoy City friends," the inscription reads, I never felt better in my life .


You asked me what I was working on now. It's a book about Mahanoy City. Harcourt expects to publish it this coming fall.


Note: The book about Mahanoy City was Lament For the Molly McGuires


Back of the dust jacket and the title page from Arthur Lewis's 1971 book Copper Beeches. The inscription reads, " For my good friends @ the Mahanoy City Public Library - Arthur Lewis - 12/2/71"







To read more about Arthur H. Lewis click on the following links:


A Look Back at a True Crime Writer, Arthur H. Lewis , by Paul Davis


Article by Andy Wallace , an Inquirer Staff Writer , at Philly.com Written Shortly After Lewis's Death in 1995