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Turner, Arlin : Home

Written by Heather Dent, '11, Edited by Katie Grindstaff, '15

Arlin Turner

Arlin Turner was a distinguished English professor, editor, and published author – having written both books as well as articles in scholarly journals.


Early Life, Education, and Career

Arlin Turner was born on 25 November 1909 in Texas. He earned his B.A. from West Texas State University in 1927 at the age of 18. By the time he was 25, he had earned his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Texas. Beginning in 1933, he taught for three years in the English Department of the University of Texas. He taught English and American Literature at Louisiana State University from 1936-1953, rising from instructor to professor. During World War II, he served on the U.S. Naval Reserve, working his way up the ranks to the standing of Secretary of the Navy Citation.

In 1953, Turner was invited to the faculty of Duke University where he served as Chairman of the English Department. Over several summers, he worked as visiting professor to universities in Colorado, Virginia, Illinois, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and New York. He has also served as a visiting professor outside the United States in Canada, Western Australia, India, and England, where he was able to cement friendships for the United States and represent American culture in a favorable light.

From 1954-1963, Turner acted as managing editor of the American Literature, and developed it into an outstanding scholarly journal in its field. He also served as a member of the editorial boards of the South Atlantic Quarterly, the Arlington Quarterly, the Southern Literary Journal, the Resources for American Literary Study, and Studies in American Humor.

Turner has held important offices in the following organizations: the Modern Language Association, Southeastern American Studies Association, South Atlantic Modern Language Association, National Endowment for the Humanities, Phi Beta Kappa, Society of Southern Literature, Conference Board of Associated Research Councils, Fullbright Selection Committee, American Council of Learned Societies, the Graduate Record Examination, and the National Council of Teacher of English.


Turner had a central literary and historical interest in Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, and George W. Cable. He placed particular emphasis on George W. Cable, a nineteenth century novelist and short story writer, and his concern with the problems of liberated slaves and their adjustment into American Society. Turner’s studies on Cable led him to discover that this post-Abolitionist had a thirty year relationship with President Frost and Berea College. In fact, Cable urged Frost to fight the Day Law in court. In 1973, Turner lectured at Berea College concerning the Cable-Frost relationship.

Turner wrote five books, and edited fifteen editions of late nineteenth century writers interested in Southern problems and the post-Abolitionist movement. He has also written over 50 articles in scholarly journals. These articles dealt primarily with basic literary and historical research of American writers and records of the post Abolitionist movement.

Awards and Honors

Turner has twice been named a Guggenheim Fellow. He has received a Huntington Library Research award, and in 1956, his biography of George W. Cable earned an award from the Southern Historical Association for best book. Berea College awarded him with the honorary degree of Doctor of Literature in 1976.

List of Works

Hawthorne as Editor. Louisiana University Press, 1941.
George W. Cable: A Biography. Duke University Press, 1956.
Mark Twain and George W. Cable: A Record of Literary Friendship. Michigan State University Press, 1960.
Nathanial Hawthorne: An Introduction and Interpretation. Barnes and Noble, 1961.
George Cable: A Biography. Durham, N.C., Duke University Press, 1956.
List of works in WorldCat

Works Cited

Geser, Carol. “Letter to William F. Stolte.” October 23, 1974. 

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