Novelist of Note… John Selby

Gallatin has provided an exceptional number of nationally acclaimed leaders in business, government and the arts. One of its most widely recognized was novelist John A. Selby, whose books were popular in the nation’s bookstores for many years.

Gallatin has provided an exceptional number of nationally acclaimed leaders in business, government and the arts. One of its most widely recognized was novelist John A. Selby, whose books were popular in the nation’s bookstores for many years.

Selby was born in Gallatin in 1897. After attending Park College and the University of Missouri, he joined the Kansas City Star as a journalist and music critic. After 11 years there he was forced to resign because of ill health. The next three years he and his wife lived in France while he recuperated.

They returned to New York where John accepted a position as music and arts critic with the Associated Press. They made their home in Westport, Connecticut.

He was the author of ten novels and was also a lecturer at Columbia University where he taught courses in short-story writing. Later he joined Rinehart and Company as editor-in-chief, a position he held until his retirement in 1965.

Shortly thereafter he moved to Taormina, Sicily. His wife preceded him in death in 1945.

Mr. Selby returned to live in Gallatin for several months in 1972, but returned to Taormina where he lived until his death in 1980. He is buried there.

One of his most successful books was “Island in the Corn” in which many Gallatin readers believe he mirrored his hometown. His novel “Sam” was an All-Nations fiction prizewinner. Two others, “Starbuck” and “Time Was,” were also best sellers.