Close up of Nevada Writers Hall of Fame medal

Charlton Laird

1990 Nevada Writers Hall of Fame Inductee


Charlton (Larry) Laird a scholar, linguist, poet, novelist, nonfiction writer, editor and a teacher. He was born in Nashua, Iowa. While an undergraduate at the University of Iowa, he was a varsity fencer and worked as both an itinerant wheat harvester and summer preacher in the Midwest. He worked as manager of the News Bureau for the Des Moines Register & Tribune in 1926 and also became Head of the Dept. of Journalism for Drake University in Des Moines that year. He was a member of Sigma Delta Chi, an honorary journalistic society, which is now the Society of Professional Journalists. After further education at Columbia, Stanford and Yale Universities, he came to the University of Nevada, Reno in 1943 as head of the Department of English. Laird was instrumental in the German-born composer Max Urban's decision to move from Mexico to Reno, Nevada. Laird's wife, Helene, wrote lyrics for several of Urban's songs, and Urban composed music for several songs and musical plays written by Laird. Laird's love of language is evident in his numerous books, papers and speeches that turn highly specialized scholarly research into lively reading for the intelligent layman. He was active in the National Council of Teachers of English, sharing in a speech at their 1968 conference, "A good teacher of literature resembles a poem ...".