Harry Behn (1898-1973) was born in Yavapai County, Arizona. He was the son of Henry K. Behn, a miner, and Maren (Christensen) Behn. Although he began his education at Stanford University in 1918, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1922 from Harvard University. Behn married Alice Lawrence and had three children: Pamela, Prescott, and Peter. Behn worked in a number of different professions over his lifetime. He was a scenario writer for motion picture studios from 1925-1935; a teacher of creative writing at the University of Arizona in Tucson from 1938-1947; he founded the university radio bureau in 1938 and managed in until 1947; he founded the University of Arizona Press in 1960; and also founded the Phoenix Little Theater in 1922, managing it until 1923. In addition, Behn was the vice-president of the Tucson Regional Plan from 1940-1947.
Behn created twenty-one books for children, including several volumes of poetry, translated two, and wrote numerous screenplays and scripts for radio programs. His books include Siesta (1931), The Little Hill (1949), All Kinds of Time (1950), Windy Morning (1953), The House Beyond the Meadow (1955), The Wizard in the Well (1956), The Painted Cave (1957), Timmy's Search (1958), The Two Uncles of Pablo (1959), Sombra (1961), Roderick (1961), The Faraway Lurs (1963), Cricket Songs (1964), Omen of the Birds (1964), The Golden Hive (1966), Chrysalis: Concerning Children and Poetry (1968), What a Beautiful Noise (1970), More Cricket Songs (1971), Crickets and Bullfrogs and Whispers of Thunder: Poems and Pictures (1984), Trees: A Poem (1992), and Halloween (2003).
In 1923, Behn was awarded a fellowship for graduate study in Sweden for one year. He won Graphic Arts awards for three of his children's books, The Little Hill, All Kinds of Time, and The Painted Cave. All Kinds of Time also was one of thirty classics selected by the New York Public Library and by Life magazine. Omen of the Birds won the Honor Award from the Boys' Club of America; Cricket Song received the Award of Merit from Claremont Graduate College.
Behn commented to Junior Authors, "After I graduated from Harvard...I started a little theater in Phoenix, Arizona. Then I was sent to Sweden disguised as a scholar. After wandering a while about Europe, I drifted to Hollywood where I wrote scenarios for several movies, including La Boheme, The Crowd, Hotel Imperial, The Racket, The Big Parade, and Hell's Angels. Then I taught at the University of Arizona, lived on a small ranch, organized and directed the university radio bureau, founded and edited the Arizona Quarterly, worked very hard for Tucson Regional Plan, and I can't remember what else, all at once. With a burst of ambition, I organized a broadcasting company, sold it, and moved to Greenwich, Connecticut...Greenwich reminds me of mountainous Arizona where I grew up. I was born in McCabe, a mining camp, now a ghost town, but my earliest memories are of Prescott, with its Army post to guard us against the Apaches, or the Apaches from us, I'm not sure. But many of the people came from New England; there were pines and oak trees, and a real winter, and frogs peeping in the spring, just as they are today, here in Greenwich. I must go out now and see how much more the leaf buds have opened..."
(Sources: Gale Literary Databases. "Harry Behn." Contemporary Authors. 28 Oct. 5003. 1 July 2005. More Junior Authors; Junior Authors Electronic (1963) Updated 1999. Copyright (c) by The H. W. Wilson Company.)
The Harry Behn Papers consist of four books; twenty-eight screen treatments, screenplays, scenarios, and continuities for film and television; nine plays; five radio scripts; a series of correspondence comprising sixty-one letters; and mementos including a scrapbook and one folder of both American and European playbills from the 1950s.
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[Identification of item], Harry Behn Papers, Ax 420, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.
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