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Max Steele (1922–2005) Biography

university writing august north

(Henry Maxwell Steele)

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for SATA sketch: Born March 30, 1922, in Greenville, SC; died August 1, 2005, in Chapel Hill, NC. Educator and author. Steele was a University of North Carolina creative writing professor and award-winning author of novels and short stories. After attending several different universities and serving in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II, he earned a B.A. from the University of North Carolina in 1946. He then continued his studies in France at the Sorbonne and the Academie Julienne. Returning to the United States, he lectured at his alma mater for two years and taught at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference in 1956. Teaching at the University of North Carolina, he rose to the post of full professor of creative writing in 1972 and directed the writing program from 1968 to 1988, when he retired. Steele not only taught writing; he was an accomplished fiction author himself. His work includes the novel Debby (1950; retitled The Goblins Must Go Bare), which won the Harper Prize; short stories—two of which earned him O. Henry prizes; and three children's books. He was also an editor for the highly regarded Story magazine.



Los Angeles Times, August 8, 2005, p. B9.


Herald Sun Online, http://www.heraldsun.com/ (August 5, 2005).

University of North Carolina Web site, http://www.unc.edu/ (August 5, 2005).

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about 2 years ago

It is likely that many others were taught what I am about to share regarding Max. As an undergraduate at UNC I took several creative writing courses under Max. I always felt I was the worst writer in our small group of about ten students. Besides I was a chemistry major and they were english majors exclusively, I think. What he taught me that has stayed with me more than anything else I should really say he told me, as I think I am actually only learning it now. He said "you don't write a story to tell a story, but you write a story to find out what the story is all about". I have actually started writing my stories about patient experiences in my career as a general internist and geriatrician. I am early on in this endeavor but already I am seeing the story evolve and morph as I write and learn what story I am really trying to write. I don't know the answer yet but I hope I have the energy and discipline to complete it.