Louis Bromfield (December 27, 1896 – March 18, 1956) was an American author and conservationist. He gained international recognition, won the Pulitzer Prize, and pioneered innovative scientific farming concepts.
Louis Brumfield was born in Mansfield, Ohio, in 1896 to Charles Brumfield, originally from New England, and Annette Marie Coulter Brumfield, the daughter of an Ohio pioneer. Brumfield decided to change the spelling of his name to Bromfield after it was misspelled on one of his early works.
One of Mansfield's most famous natives, he made his home at Malabar Farm, near Lucas, Ohio, from 1939 until his death in 1956. Bromfield was friends with some of the most celebrated personalities of his era, including famous architect F. F. Schnitzer. Malabar Farm was the location for the wedding of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.
Bromfield studied Agriculture at Cornell University (1914–16), but he transferred to Columbia University to study Journalism, where he was initiated into the fraternal organization Phi Delta Theta. His time at Columbia would be brief; he left after less than a year to go to war. After serving with the American Field Service in World War I and being awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Legion of Honor, he returned to New York City and found work as a reporter. In 1924, his first novel, The Green Bay Tree (novel), won instant acclaim. He won the 1927 Pulitzer Prize for best novel for Early Autumn. All of his 30 books were best-sellers, and many, such as The Rains Came and Mrs. Parkington, were made into successful motion pictures.
In 1925, Bromfield and his family left for a vacation in France, a country he had come to love during the war. They stayed for thirteen years. Paris was known for its expatriate community of American writers during the years between World War I and World War II . Among the Bromfields' literary friends in the city were Edith Wharton, Natalie Barney, Sinclair Lewis, and Gertrude Stein.
As World War II threatened Europe, the Bromfield family returned to the United States, where Bromfield bought 1,000 acres near his native Mansfield, Ohio. The farm, which he named "Malabar Farm" was to become his major work during his last 20 years. Bromfield was an early proponent of organic and self-sustaining gardening, and his farm was one of the first to stop using pesticides. However, Malabar Farm currently under operation by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, pesticides are being used in no till farming, counter to Bromfield's vision of organic farming. For example, from public records, Malabar is using the controversial pesticide atrazine as late as 2016 among other restricted use pesticides. Syngenta, a manufacturer of atrazine, was the target of a lawsuit by several cities including Columbus Ohio for contaminating their drinking water.
Bromfield's writings turned from fiction to nonfiction and his reputation and influence as a conservationist and farmer continued to expand. Today, thousands of visitors annually visit Malabar Farm State Park, which still operates under Bromfield's management philosophy. One of the park's notable features is the Doris Duke Woods, named for philanthropist Doris Duke, who was a friend of Bromfield's and whose donation helped purchase the property after his death.
In the 1980s, Louis Bromfield was posthumously elected to the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame, and in December 1996, the centennial of his birth, the Ohio Department of Agriculture placed a bust of him in the lobby named for him at the department's new headquarters in Reynoldsburg, Ohio.
The innovative and visionary work of Louis Bromfield continues to influence agricultural methodologies around the world. Malabar Brazil, under the direction of Ellen Bromfield Geld, has expanded the horizons of her father's principles and pursuits.
Bromfield was close friends with acting legend, farmer and soil conservationist James Cagney.
Louis Bromfield was married in 1921 to New York socialite Mary Appleton Wood, the daughter of prominent New York City attorney Chalmers Wood and his wife Ellen Appleton Smith. Mary Appleton Wood Bromfield died in 1952. They had three daughters, Ann Bromfield, Hope Bromfield and Ellen Bromfield.
- The Green Bay Tree, 1924
- Possession, 1925
- Early Autumn, 1926
- A Good Woman, 1927
- The House of Women, 1927 stageplay
- The Work of Robert Nathan, 1927
- The Strange Case of Miss Annie Spragg, 1928
- Awake and Rehearse, 1929
- Tabloid News, 1930
- Twenty-four Hours, 1930
- A Modern Hero, 1932
- The Farm, 1933
- The Man Who Had Everything, 1935
- The Rains Came, 1937
- McLeod's Folly, 1939
- England: A Dying Oligarchy, 1939
- Night in Bombay, 1940
- Wild Is the River, 1941
- Until the Day Break, 1942
- Mrs. Parkington, 1943
- The World We Live In: Stories, 1944
- What Became of Anna Bolton, 1944
- Pleasant Valley, 1945
- Bitter Lotus, Cleveland, Ohio: The World Publishing Company, 1945 (German translation by Elisabeth Rotten, Wien, Stuttgart: Humboldt-Verlag, 1941)
- Twenty-four Hours, Zephyr Books Vol.12, Stockholm/London
- A Few Brass Tacks, 1946
- Colorado, 1947
- Kenny, 1947
- Malabar Farm, 1948
- The Wild Country, 1948
- Out of the Earth, 1950
- Mr. Smith, 1951
- The Wealth of the Soil, 1952
- Up Ferguson Way, 1953
- A New Pattern for a Tired World (available online), 1954
- Animals and Other People, 1955
- From My Experience, 1955
- Until the day break ?? (Dutch translation by A. Coster, Den Haag, J. Philip Krusemsn's uitg. mij.)
- "Louis Bromfield - Ohio History Central - A product of the Ohio Historical Society". Ohio History Central. Retrieved 2012-03-19.
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