Born on June 3, in Fitzgerald, Georgia, to Mattie Mood and Brainard Bartwell Cheney.
Family moved from Fitzgerald to Lumber City, Georgia.
Father died. Robin Bess, the overseer of the familys land holdings, became his male role model.
Graduated from Lumber City High School, Georgia.
Attended the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina.
Enlisted in the United States Army on November 12, as part of the Students Army Training Corps, and was Honorably Discharged on December 10.
Bank Clerk in Lavonia, Georgia.
Spent one semester at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee.
Timber dealer, Lumber City, Georgia.
School Principal, Jonesville, Georgia.
School Principal, Scotland, Georgia.
School Principal, Bostwick, Georgia.
Attended Georgia University in Athens, Georgia for the Summer term.
Attended Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee (left Vanderbilt after completing junior year). Studied with John Crowe Ransom, Edwin Mims, and Walter Clyde Curry and became friends with several members of the Fugitive group- Donald Davidson, Merrill Moore, Stanley Johnson, and Robert Penn Warren. While in school he worked for an investment banking
company. At the end of the school year his mother died and he went to Georgia to settle her estate. When he returned to Nashville, he had been fired from the banking company and he realized he would not be able to afford school in the fall. He continued to live at Vanderbilt in an apartment on West Side Row with Ralph McGill.
In September, at the recommendation of Ralph McGill, Cheney joined the staff of the Nashville Banner Newspaper as a police reporter. He continued with the Banner through 1942, serving as the Cityhall, Courthouse, Federal and Capitol reporter; the city, wire, farm, financial, and aviation editors; and as a feature writer and editorial writer.
Was in a terrible car wreck, as the result of driving heavily intoxicated. He was in the hospital for two months.
Married Frances Neel Cheney June 21.
Through their close friend, Robert Penn Warren, the Cheneys became acquainted with Allen Tate and Caroline Gordon, a friendship which had lasting importance to the Cheneys for religious reasons and to Brainard in particular for literary reasons.
Manuscript for a novel, several short stories and poems burned in the Wesley Hall fire on the
Worked on a novel titled World Without Words, that was submitted for publication and Nannine Joseph, Caroline Gordons literary agent, said he had great potential and suggested that he put this novel aside as experience and write a new one.
Carwreck near Manchester. Cheney has minor injuries and another passenger was killed.
Began work on a novel with the working title The Squatter, later titled Lightwood
Spent three weeks in April on the boat Adventure II, following the river voyage of Sam Donelsons Adventure from Fort Patrick Henry on the Holstein River to the banks of the Cumberland in Nashville, he submitted articles to the Nashville Banner each day of the trip. Lightwood published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published The Yellow Dress, a short story, in the Contemporary Southern Prose anthology from D.C. Heath and Company. Began work on River Rogue, spent three months in Southern Georgia researching for the novel. Received a Fellowship to attend the Breadloaf Writers Conference in Vermont, where he met Wallace Stegner, Eudora Welty, Carson McCullers, and Robert Frost.
Received a Guggenheim Fellowship to complete River Rogue.
River Rogue was published by Houghton Mifflin Company, and was chosen for the Book-of-the-Month Club. MGM held rights to make a movie but the project was deferred because of the war.
Served as Executive Secretary to Senator Tom Stewart of Tennessee. In 1943, the Tates had moved to Washington D.C. because Allen Tate had been appointed as the Library of Congress Poetry Chair. While living in Washington the Cheneys shared a home with the Tates and together they entertained many of their literary friends.
Served as Secretary of the Subcommittee on War Surplus Disposal of the Senate Small Business Committee
Wrote and rewrote The Image and the Cry (unpublished) five times.
Served as the Public Relations Director of the Greater Nashville Community Chest and wrote radio scripts and a movie script , entitled Not Enough To Go Around, on their behalf.
Wrote the script for Strangers in This World, the initial idea for this play came from a scene in The Image and the Cry. Received a Fellowship from the Huntington Hartford Foundation in Los Angeles.
Strangers in This World was produced by the Vanderbilt University Theater, February 6-9. The Cheneys purchased land on St. Simons Island off the coast of Southern Georgia. In August, he wrote a review of Flannery OConnors first novel, Wise Blood, which was to be the beginning of a very close friendship between the two writers.
Served as Public Relations man for Tennessee Governor Frank Clement.
Became a member of the Roman Catholic Church. On June 6th Brainard and Frances met Flannery OConnor for the first time, at her home outside Milledgeville, Georgia, on their way to St. Simons Island.
Through the auspices of the Tennessee Education and Dramatic Commission (1956) and the Sam Davis Outdoor Theater Project (1957) Cheney worked on a project to establish a State Theater and Workshop in Tennessee to produce plays by fiction writers.
Strangers in This World, produced in Louisville, Kentucky at the Little Theater on the University of Louisville, Belknap Campus, January 26-28.
This Is Adam is published by McDowell Obolensky Inc. Received a Literary Award from the Georgia Writers Association for This Is Adam.
Wrote Quest for the Pelican, offered for publication 1960-1964 and was then withdrawn.
Another play, I Choose to Die was produced by the Vanderbilt University Theatre, November 2-5.
Cheney became very interested in the writings of the French Jesuit Priest, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Teilhards book, The Phenomenon of Man, became paramount in Cheneys quest to reconcile science and religion.
Co-Authored an essay on Teilhard de Chardin with Antonio Gotto titled, Has Teilhard de Chardin Really Joined the Within and the Without of Things?, published in the Sewanee Review.
His novel Devils Elbow published by Crown Publishers.
Worked on In Pursuit of Happiness. The novel was up for publication through Crown Publishers and had a release date but was never produced.
Worked on two novels, one titled The People, The People, and the other, a fictionalized history of his mothers family titled Kitty Moods Cup.
Sold the bulk of his papers to the Joint University Libraries.
Project R.A.F.T, a celebration of the river culture and timber trade along the Ocmulgee, Oconee, and Altahama rivers in Southern Georgia. Cheney was involved in the organization of Project R.A.F.T. with Delma Presley. Cheney spoke at the Lumber City, Bailey, Jessup, and Darien town celebrations.
Reprint of River Rogue with an Introduction by Robert Penn Warren was published by Burr Oak
Reprint of Lightwood with an Introduction by Delma E. Presley was published by Burr Oak Publishers, Inc. Terrye Newkirk submits Cheers: Letters of Flannery OConnor to Brainard and Frances Neel Cheney, 1953-1958 as Masters Thesis at Vanderbilt University.
The Correspondence of Flannery OConnor and the Brainard Cheneys, compiled by C. Ralph Stephens, is published by the University Press of Mississippi.
Brainard Bartwell Cheney died on January 15, in Nashville, Tennessee, at the age of 89.
Overview | Scope
and Content Note | Brainard Cheney Bio | Frances
File Listing: Boxes 1-30 | File Listing: Boxes 31-60 | File Listing: Boxes 61-90
Special Collections | Heard Library | Vanderbilt University
Copyright © Special Collections, Jean and Alexander Heard Library, Vanderbilt
Last modified: April 10, 2008
For more information, contact us at: < >