Louis D. Rubin

  • Posted: Friday, November 22, 2013 12:01 a.m.

Louis D. Rubin studied literature, wrote books of his own, taught writing and helped launch the careers of some of the South’s well-known contemporary authors.

He had devoted followers from his years teaching at Hollins College in Roanoke, Va., and the University of North Carolina. Among his students were Annie Dillard, Jill McCorkle and John Barth.

And he has legions of appreciative readers for having established Algonquin Books, which published works by Clyde Edgerton, Ms. McCorkle, Lee Smith, Alice Hoffman and Yoko Ono, among many others.

A Charleston native, Mr. Rubin started out in journalism, but opted to leave the newspaper business and return to school for a master’s and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins.

While in academia, he and Charleston native Shannon Ravenel determined that it was difficult for Southern writers to be published by New York-centric houses. Their brainchild, Algonquin Books, began in 1982 in his study. As reported on ABC News, it “expanded to his living room, then a bedroom, a porch and to his woodshed in the backyard.”

Mr. Rubin has been described as intimidating, rumpled and laconic, but also brilliant and inspiring. He wrote essential works of Southern literary criticism, such as “William Elliott Shoots a Bear,” as well as fiction and reminiscenses of his hometown, including his last book, “Uptown and Downtown in Old Charleston: Sketches and Stories,” which was published in 2010. Louis Rubin died in North Carolina Saturday, three days before his 90th birthday.

He will be remembered as representing Charleston well during a distinguished career that celebrated good literature and scholarship.

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