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JOC British  Columbia Trip 1912.jpg
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James Oliver Curwood - 1907 - editor of the Detroit News Tribune.jpg
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Curwood Castle


Curwood CastleJames Oliver Curwood: A Great American Adventurer

 

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Curwood Castle


Curwood CastleJames Oliver Curwood: A Great American Adventurer

 

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MAN BEHIND THE CASTLE

The Curwood Castle was the writing studio for one of America's greatest authors of his time. James Oliver Curwood was an Owosso, Michigan native who's novels were estimated to have been read by over 7 million people during his time, and a who's stories were turned into major motion pictures in Hollywood. However, the once world renowned and famous author fell into obscurity after his death in 1927. His former writing studio (Curwood Castle) and his family home (Hoddy House) remain preserved in Owosso and retain the legacy of his life as a writer, adventurer, explorer, conservationist, and pioneer.

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James Oliver Curwood


James Oliver Curwood Writer, adventurer, explorer, conservationist, and pioneer

James Oliver Curwood


James Oliver Curwood Writer, adventurer, explorer, conservationist, and pioneer

Boyhood home of JOC - West Town Owosso.jpg

1878 - Curwood Is Born


1878
CuRwood Is Born
In the backroom of his father's cobbler shop in Owosso

1878 - Curwood Is Born


1878
CuRwood Is Born
In the backroom of his father's cobbler shop in Owosso

 

It was in the living quarters in the back room of cobbler shop in Owosso, Michigan that James and Abigail Curwood gave birth to a boy on June 12th, 1878, whom they named James Oliver Curwood. The cobbler shop sat on the corner of the Main and Lansing street in what is now called West Town. The Curwood family lived here until they moved to Erie County in Ohio to try their hand at farming. They eventually moved back to Owosso when James Oliver Curwood was a teenager and lived on John Street (what is now called Curwood Drive).

 
James and Abigail Curwood at their home on John Street (known today as Curwood Drive)

James and Abigail Curwood at their home on John Street (known today as Curwood Drive)

James Oliver Curwood at Age 7

James Oliver Curwood at Age 7

Our old-fashioned house on John Street still stands within a few steps of my present workshop [Curwood Castle] and my room it remains unchanged. The same faded paper is on the walls, the same old magazine pictures are tacked about, and the same scant furniture and home-made shelves are there. Ghosts live within its walls to guard the priceless memories. In this room I wrote and dreamed as a boy. On the old sewing machine stand with its yellow oilcloth cover I wrote half of the thirty novels which I have published. In this room of hallowed memories I fought my way through gloom to happiness and success. In it I rose from poverty and obscurity.
— James Oliver Curwood
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1894 - A Young Writer


1894
A YOUNG writer 
Curwood's first story appears in the Owosso Evening Argus

1894 - A Young Writer


1894
A YOUNG writer 
Curwood's first story appears in the Owosso Evening Argus

 

Curwood dreamed of being an author from early childhood. Though he lacked the writing skills, he improvised a 200,000-word novel by the time he was nine years of age. On October 21st, 1894 his first published story "The Terror of Athabasca" appeared in the local newspaper, the Owosso Evening Argus, known today as the Argus Press, one of the oldest surviving local newspapers in the countryHe was expelled from school at sixteen years of age and embarked on a bicycle tour of many of the southern states. At seventeen he travelled in a carriage selling proprietary medicines for a pharmaceutical company. Curwood returned to Michigan in 1898 and passed the entrance exam for the University of Michigan English department to study journalism. 

 
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1900 - Becoming a Journalist


1900
Becoming a Journalist
Curwood works for the Detroit News Tribune

1900 - Becoming a Journalist


1900
Becoming a Journalist
Curwood works for the Detroit News Tribune

 

In 1900, in rogue artist fashion, Curwood dropped out of the University of Michigan, sold his first story, and then became a reporter for the Detroit News Tribune. Curwood told his boss that we was married, believing he'd be considered more mature and the pay might be a little better, therefore he needed a bride. He married Cora Leon Johnson (known as Leon) on January 21st, 1900 by a justice of the peace in Windsor, Ontario, across the river from Detroit so that the marriage wouldn't be discovered by a reporter at city hall Detroit.

He was hired by the Detroit News Tribune to cover funerals, but six months into his position he wrote a story about a "peeping Tom" and incorrectly reported the name of the accused and was fired. The Detroit News Tribune continue to purchase his freelance stories and rehired Curwood in 1902. He worked there making his way to the assistant editor position until 1907, when he left and moved back to Owosso to start writing novels full time.