The Story of Earl Hamner,

the "real" John-Boy


The history of the television family „The Waltons“ is based on the childhood memories of the American writer, scriptwriter and film producers Earl Henry Hamner jr.

Earl Hamner was born in Schuyler, Nelson County, Virginia on July 10,1923 as a son of Earl Henry Hamner senior and Doris Giannini Hamner. The father worked in an nearby soap factory, the mother took care of Earl and his seven brothers and sisters. In the middle of the 30th years the father lost is work in the course of the great depression. He found a new job in Waynesboro, where he lived in a pension during the week. At weekend he had a long way home to his family and the last six miles he had to walk. This 6-miles-footpath home at Christmas Eve inspired Earl Hamner many years later to the beautiful and successful film „The Homecoming “.

The life of the family was hard but happy, Earl Hamner remembered later.

Already as a young boy Earl Hamner was very talented. When he was about 2 years old he was able to write numbers, with four years he could read and when he was 6 years old his first poem „To My Dog “ was published on the child side of the Richmond Times Dispatch.

His talent was always supported by his parents. Both of them placed great emphasis on a proper education and training of their eight children.

1939 Earl Hamner finished the Schuyler High School and received a scholar-ship to the University of Richmond. To finance his living, he worked at the Brooks Transportation Company while studying. In 1943 he served in the WW II. Fist he spent some time in England, later he served in France. In Paris, where he felt very well, he learned the French language and soon he found friends among the Frenchmen.

After his return to the USA in March 1946 Earl Hamner returned home to Virginia and found a job at the radio station WMBG in Richmond. Later he studied journalism at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio.

He received his diploma in June 1948. Then he worked for WLW, Cincinnatis most well-known radio station. A year later he moved to New York City, where he worked for NBC News.

1953 Earl Hamner wrote his first novel, "Fifty Roads to Town", which was published by Random House.

In February 1954 he met his wife Jane Martin. In October of the same year they married. 1956 their son Scott was born, 1958 followed their  daughter Caroline. Later both children were acting in „The Homecoming“ (1971) by Earl Hamner.

Earl Hamners second novel was „The Homecoming “. It was published 1970 by Random House and it tells the story of a family named Spencer. The Homecoming was the forerunner of the television family „The Waltons “, which was produced from 1972 to 1981 and which had a huge success around the world. The original voice at the beginning and at the end of each episode belongs to Earl Hamner. The series has been awarded in the first year with five Emmys.

In 1981 Ear Hamner had another successful television series called "Falcon Crest".

Earl Hamner published several books, for example „Goodnight John Boy“, “Generous Women“, „The Avocado Drive Zoo“, but unfortunately they are all not available in German language.

Today Earl Hamner lives in Studio City, California but he never forgot his hometown Schuyler. Every now and then I comes back to Virginia for a visit and he is always very welcome.

On October 15th, 2011 Earl Hamner has received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 14th Annual Literary Awards Celebration of the Library of Virginia in Richmond, VA. The award was presented by none other than "John-Boy" Richard Thomas! 

Well done, Earl Hamner !

   

          

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