This article draws on the extensive archives of Robert Coles, the records of the Lyndhurst Foundation, and other archival collections to explore Coles's and others' patronage of Cormac McCarthy from 1968 through 1986. Drawn to McCarthy's work through his interest in Appalachian writers, especially those of a spiritual bent, Coles wrote reviews of Outer Dark, Child of God, and Suttree for the New Yorker and wrote in support of McCarthy's 1976 Guggenheim fellowship. Soon after, he initiated a correspondence and friendship with McCarthy. Learning that McCarthy's financial situation was hindering his work, Coles facilitated his receiving a Lyndhurst fellowship, with support of $20,000 annually in late 1979, 1980, and 1981. Then he promoted Lyndhurst's copublishing Suttree in trade paperback in 1986. Finally, a case can be made that Coles influenced McCarthy's receipt of a MacArthur fellowship in 1981. Working almost invisibly behind the scenes, Coles had a great deal to do with McCarthy's surviving his leanest years.

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