The 2014 winner of the Norman Maclean nonfiction award is Isabella Nilsson from Shaker Heights, Ohio, USA for her piece “Iris.”
Norman Maclean was a renowned writer who grew up in Missoula, Montana where his father was a Presbyterian minister and where Maclean learned to fly fish. Maclean spent most of his childhood fly fishing the Blackfoot River with his father and his younger brother Paul.
As a young man Norman Maclean worked for the United States Forest Service, starting at the age of 14. His time with the Forest Service provided the inspiration for his short story “USFS 1919: The Ranger, The Cook and The Hole in The Sky.”
Maclean received his Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth in 1924 and subsequently went into the field of teaching. He taught at Dartmouth for a couple years before moving to the University of Chicago where he was a professor of English for more than 40 years.
Norman Maclean married Jessie Burns in 1931. Norman and Jessie Maclean had two children, a daughter, Jean Maclean and a son, John Maclean. Jean is now a lawyer and John is an author and journalist and has given us permission to offer this award.
In 1973, at the age of 70, Maclean retired from teaching and wrote the short autobiographical novella A River Runs Through It, his most recognized piece of writing. Maclean described A River Runs Through It as “a love poem to my family” and it is regarded as a classic of American literature.
Maclean’s second nonfiction book was Young Men and Fire about the Mann Gulch Fire of 1949. Young Men and Fire was published in 1992, two years after his death. It has been described as “an intoxicatingly beautiful book.” Maclean’s other published works include “USFS 1919: The Ranger, The Cook and The Hole in The Sky,” “The Norman Maclean Reader,” well as other short stories.
Norman Maclean will always be remembered as a great writer whose eloquent and superb writing has brought to life the majestic state of Montana and hopefully will continue to inspire young writers. Aerie International is privileged, with special thanks to the Maclean family, to offer a nonfiction award in his honor.