Peter Taylor’s connections to Ohio are through education – he attended and taught at Kenyon College in Gambier, and later taught at The Ohio State University in Columbus. But Peter Taylor was born in Tennessee, his early influences were by Southern Agrarians like Robert Lowell, Robert Penn Warren, and John Crowe Ransom, and his subject matter came from stories he was told as a child growing up in the south.
Taylor won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel, A Summons to Memphis, late in his career. Writes Robb Forman Dew, after winning the award, “Peter Taylor, at 70 years old, was caught up for the first time in his life in a flurry of celebrity that broadened his audience beyond his regular core of New Yorker readers and the many poets and writers who had always admired his work… it’s too bad Taylor’s fame came with the publication of a novel, when he was arguably the past century’s best American practitioner of the short story. While the novel … is very fine, it is not one of his masterpieces.”
Still, A Summons to Memphis contained the qualities that Taylor was best known for: a natural ear for dialogue, a smooth, well-paced style, and a sensitive character portrayal. Even though his stories took place in the south, their appeal was universal. A Times Literary Supplement critic described Peter Taylor as “a cautious writer with an intellectual respect for his characters. Every change of mood and feeling is something he considers worth recording.”