Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Colby Access Only)


Colby College. American Studies Program


Richard J. Moss


Garrison Edward Keillor was born on August 7, 1942, in Anoka Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis, to John and Grace Keillor. The third of six children, he was brought up in a staunchly traditional family and was taught an oppressive Christian faith. Keillor is critical of his narrow upbringing but maintains that he grew up in a warm and loving family. This combination of critical analysis and loving understanding makes Keillor a unique phenomenon. He attributes his humor to his experience with narrow religious training which he had to come to terms with in order to be a humorist. Keillor, unlike many of his generation, does not reject his past and his humor is in the Minnepean satirical tradition rather than the harsh Juvenallian satirical tradition. This is both a tribute to Keillor and to his upbringing, for his childhood was sheltered and uneventful but not unbearable or unhappy. Keillor is author of a number of articles and short stories collected in the book Happy to Be Here, and of the best seller Lake Wobegon Days, and the recent Leaving Home. He was also the innovator and host of the popular "A Prairie Home Companion" radio broadcast for between 1974 and 1987. In his literature and radio Keillor creates with a sense of this past and an understanding of how it has changed. An article in the September 10, 1985 issue of Village Voice suggests that Keillor expresses considerable ambivalence "toward the Spartan virtues of the midwest," but takes refuge from them "in urbane sophistication," and takes refuge from "urbane sophistication in them" (Klepp, p.34). What Keillor has created in his radio broadcasts and his literature is a sense of the values of the past and the ambiguous present.


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Garrison Keillor, author, biography