In 1934, Harcourt Brace editor James M. Reid and his novelist wife Grace bought a house in West Norwalk, Connecticut, joining other publishing house figures and freelance writers who had settled in nearby Fairfield County towns. In his autobiography Reid recounted the literary circle of which he became a part and mentions a friend, John Hyde Preston, as the “erratic author of Revolution 1776,” a history published by Harcourt Brace in 1933. Reid offered a pointed and matchless description of Preston: “John was hard to keep on the beam, but with all his quirks, he never wrote a bad paragraph in his life.”1

John Hyde Preston—talented novelist, essayist, historian, and critic—dropped from the sight of the literary public over eight decades ago. This of course is not a unique occurrence in American letters, since the works of more recognizable figures such as Gertrude Stein, Sinclair Lewis, William Dean...

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