born in Illinois, graduated from the state university and, after an M.A. from Harvard, taught there briefly before trying his hand at a variety of jobs, including editorial work for The New Yorker. His novels include Bright Center of Heaven (1934); They Came Like Swallows (1937), about a woman of character and warmth who helps diverse people and leaves them to find themselves upon her death; The Folded Leaf (1945), quietly and tenderly treating the lives of two boys who are friends through school and college; Time Will Darken It (1948), about an impossibly idealistic man, set in Illinois in 1912; The Château (1961); The Old Man at the Railroad Crossing (1966); and So Long, See You Tomorrow (1979), about two 13-year-old boys whose friendship is abruptly ended after a murder in their Midwestern town. Over by the River (1977) collects stories. Ancestors (1971) is a history of the author's forebears and their religious views. The Writer as Illusionist (1955) studies fiction.