5107 County Hwy W, New Glarus, WI 53574
207 N Craig St, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
MacDowell Colony, 100 High St, Peterborough, NH 03458
Swiss United Church of Christ Cemetery New Glarus, Green County, Wisconsin, USA
Herbert Oswald Nicholas Kubly (April 26, 1915 – August 7, 1996) was an American author and playwright. For his first book, American in Italy, he won the 1956 U.S. National Book Award for Nonfiction. A good friend of Edwin P. Barlow’s and another New Glarus native, Kubly, a world-famous travel writer, returned to Wisconsin after living for a couple of years in Italy in the early 1950s. Before arriving in Madison in the 1950s, Kubly sent a postcard to Theodore Pierce picturing the Chalet of the Golden Fleece and asked to be “put up at the Pierce Youth Hostel if reservations are still available.” In a 1960s interview with the Milwaukee Journal’s book editor, Kubly referenced Glenway Wescott’s Good-Bye Wisconsin. Herbert Kubly was the only Wisconsin author ever to win the National Book Award and the Wisconsin Book Award. It was given to him in 1956 for his first book, American in Italy, a work of non-fiction resulting from 14 months spent in post-war Italy on a Fulbright grant. His subsequent published books include Easter in Sicily, At Large, The Whistling Zone, Varieties of Love, Gods and Heroes, The Duchess of Glover, Native's Return, The Parkside Stories, and two books on Italy and Switzerland for the Life World Library.
"Nick" Kubly was born and raised on Kubly Farm east of the Swiss American community of New Glarus, Wisconsin, the son of Nicholas H. Kubly (1882-1965) and Alda Sabina Ott (1889-1963). He and his sister, Lila Dibble, were fourth generation co-owners of the farm.
While a student at New Glarus High School, Herbert was editor of the school newspaper, Old Guard. He graduated in 1933 and entered the University of Wisconsin where he studied writing and helped to pay for his college education by writing numerous articles on agriculture as well as pulp magazine fiction. He was also a columnist for the Daily Cardinal, reporting on movies and plays. He was a member of Theta Chi fraternity. He received a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin School of Journalism in 1937.
Upon graduation from the university in 1937, he was hired by the Hearst Corporation as a reporter for the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, but soon became that paper's art and drama critic. Five years later, he left Pittsburgh and went to work as a reporter for the New York Herald Tribune. From 1945 to 1947 he was music editor and music critic at Time Magazine, with an especial interest in the world of opera, many of whose stars became his personal friends. Meanwhile he has begun writing plays. The first of these was Men to the Sea which was produced on Broadway under the direction of Eddie Dowling in 1944. Another of his plays was produced in London. He was twice awarded a fellowship by the National Theater Conference and later became secretary of the Dramatist's Guild. He also received a Rockefeller grant for creative writing and fellowships at the MacDowell Colony for writers and musicians in New Hampshire. Between 1945 and 1947 he served as the music critic for Time magazine. His academic career began in 1949 when he was appointed associate professor of drama and director of the Playwrights' Workshop at the University of Illinois in Cham- Paign-Urbana.
In 1950 Kubly became an associate professor of speech at the University of Illinois, but he left that position to accept a Fulbright grant to Italy, where he studied the use of the theater in international communications. Kubly later traveled widely in Europe, writing stories and articles for Esquire, Holiday, Vogue, Town ana Country, Atlantic Monthly and other magazines. Subsequent to teaching at the University of Illinois, he taught creative writing at Columbia University and the New School for Social Research in New York City and ught creative writing at San Francisco State College in the 1960s. He guest lectured at Bocconi University in Milan, Italy, the University of Zurich in Switzerland, and was visiting professor one winter at New College in Sarasota, Florida, a community to which he repeatedly returned to spend the winter in recent years. In 1969, the year the University of Wisconsin-Parkside opened at Kenosha, he was invited to return from San Francisco to Wisconsin to become professor of English and writer-in-residence there, positions he filled for 15 years until his retirement. The university honored him with publication of The Parkside Stories, a collection of the best fiction produced by his students and a novelette of his own. From 1970 to 1984 he also served as travel writer and restaurant critic for the Milwaukee Journal's Sunday Magazine section, writing the popular weekly column. Dining Out. He has been cited by the University of Wisconsin for his "distinguished service as author, dramatist and educator", honored in 1982 for his accomplishments in literature and education by the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters which, in 1989, made him a Fellow of the Academy, and honored also by the Wisconsin Legislature for his contributions to literature. During the past year or two he had attempted to write the crowning work of bis career, an autobiography based tm the 24 file boxes of journals which he has kept from 1936 until well into the 1990's, but was frustrated in this effort due to the neurological disorders caused by Alzheimer's disease. At the request of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin in the 1950's, all of his manuscripts, letters, notes, journals and other papers are now housed in the Society's archives in Madison.
He married Emily Lee Hill in 1989.
He retired in May, 1984, and returned from Racine to Kubly Farm. Herbert remained on his beloved farm, continuing to write, for 11 years after retirement from teaching until rapidly devastating Alzheimer's disease, from which he began to suffer in 1993, made it no longer possible for his wife to continue caring for him at home. On the day after Thanksgiving, in 1995, his family moved him to the New Glarus Home where he died more than eight months later, on Wednesday, August 7, 1996. He was 81.
He was buried in the Swiss Church Cemetery in New Glarus.
The University of Wisconsin–Parkside English Department established the Herbert Kubly Writing Award in 1996 in Kubly's memory.
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