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Martha Heasley Cox: February 26, 1919–September 5, 2015
Steinbeck Review (2016)
  • Paul Douglass, San Jose State University
I first met Martha Cox in 1991, not six months after I arrived at San José State University, fresh from Atlanta, where the college for which I was teaching had closed. Feeling unbelievably lucky to have landed a faculty job in the aftermath of that disaster, I was excited to be teaching at SJSU, and very excited that day to attend a reading by Maxine Hong Kingston in the Music Auditorium. Kingston had just survived the Oakland Hills Firestorm which burned her house to the ground, taking with it all of her manuscripts, including her new novel, The Fourth Book of Peace, which she eventually abandoned. We listened, riveted by Kingston’s description of the uncontrollable blaze that permanently scarred the psyche of the Bay area, and how she escaped death on her bicycle. I learned that night that Kingston was speaking to us because Martha Cox had endowed a lecture series, one which has hosted Norman Mailer, Toni Morrison, Wallace Stegner, Arthur Miller, Joyce Carol Oates, J. M. Coetzee, Kiran Desai, John Barth, E. L. Doctorow, and many other distinguished writers. Martha had retired in 1989, but she was clearly not done with the university where she had taught for thirty-four years and where she had founded the Steinbeck Research Center that now bears her name.
Publication Date
November 1, 2016
Publisher Statement
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Citation Information
Paul Douglass. "Martha Heasley Cox: February 26, 1919–September 5, 2015" Steinbeck Review Vol. 13 Iss. 1 (2016) p. 73 - 78 ISSN: 1546-007X
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