The Hill is mentioned in Backward Ran Sentences
, an anthology of works by Wolcott Gibbs, Hill alumnus and writer for The New Yorker
. Journalist Thomas Vinciguerra compiled the book, and wrote a biographical introduction to Mr. Gibbs’ life and work.
Vinciguerra notes that Gibbs spent many of his formative years at different boarding schools, including The Hill. Vinciguerra contacted The Hill for historical details on Gibbs’ time here in the early 20th century. During his time at The Hill, Gibbs submitted stories and poems, noted for their sophistication and style, to The Record. However, teachers found Gibbs a difficult pupil, and in 1919 he was expelled from The Hill for “smoking in Alumni Chapel, smoking in a near by [sic] cemetery, where very unworthy behavior was indulged in by his friends and himself,” according to school records.
Vinciguerra observes in his introduction that, despite the fact that Gibbs contributed more words and more pieces to The New Yorker than many of his colleagues, he is almost entirely forgotten today. The introduction goes on to outline the life of an intelligent man with a bone-dry, biting wit, but a man who often turned to alcohol to cope with his crippling lack of self-esteem.
Backward Ran Sentences brings to light the work of Hill alumnus Wolcott Gibbs for a new generation of readers.
Reviews can be found:
Thomas Vinciguerra, a graduate of Columbia College, is a former deputy editor of the newsmagazine The Week and a frequent contributor to The New York Times.