They Came Like Swallows

William Maxwell (Author)
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First published in 1937, They Came Like Swallows was William Maxwell's second novel. It tells of an ordinary American family overtaken by the devastating epidemic of the Spanish influenza of 1918. The book begins on the day before the armistice in a small midwestern town, and the events are seen from the perspective, in turn, of eight-year-old Peter Morison - called Bunny; of his older brother, Robert; and of their father. They are witnesses to a domestic tragedy that is written with beauty and a quite magnificent tenderness.

Product Details

Publish Date
March 25, 1997
5.2 X 0.6 X 7.9 inches | 0.4 pounds
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About the Author

William Maxwell was born in 1908, in Lincoln, Illinois. When he was fourteen his family moved to Chicago and he continues his education there and at the University of Illinois. After a year of graduate work at Harvard he went back to Urbana and taught freshman composition, and then turned to writing. He has published six novels, three collections of literary essays and reviews, and a book for children. For forty years he was a fiction editor at The New Yorker. From 1969 to 1972 he was president of the National Institute of Arts and Letters, He received the Brandeis Creative Arts Award Medal and, for So Long, See You Tomorrow, the American Book Award and the Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He died in 2000.


"A story of such engaging warmth that it would thaw the heart of any critic... will melt many a reader to tears."- Times

"A heart-warming tale, the book bears witness to William Maxwell's genuine artistry."- Christian Science Monitor

"Rare...exquisite...a cameo-like perfection."- The New York Herald Tribune

"A sensitive, wistful reminiscence... very delightful."- V.S. Pritchett