Arthur H. Cash was born in Gary, Indiana, on February 4, 1922, but his roots were in southern Illinois. His father, Arthur Lester Cash, a building contractor, born 1886, and his mother, Dess Mitchell, born 1887, had been childhood sweethearts in Marion, Illinois. They were of Appalachian stock. The childhood home of Cash's paternal grandmother, Eva Hill, was a log cabin, still standing when Cash was a boy. His mother's grandfather, Lieutenant-Colonel John White, killed in the Civil War, was Marion's most celebrated hero.
Cash was born in the "Steel City" of Gary because has father had gone there looking for work in the steel mills. Ambitious to become an actor, Cash took part in numerous performances in school and in the Little Theatre of Gary. At seventeen he graduated and went immediately to Chicago where he had a scholarship at the Chicago School of Expression and Dramatic Art. He made his living bussing tables and serving as an usher and doorman in a movie theatre.
In 1941, at the age of nineteen, Cash joined Tilton's Comedians, a Toby show company. The Toby shows, sometimes called the only folk theatre America ever had, performed for rural audiences. Cash not only played the "juvenile leads," but he performed as a singer between the acts. He has written up his experience in "A Memoir of the Toby Shows," North American Review, September/October, 1994, pp. 52-6.
In the fall of 1942 he enlisted in the army and was assigned to the 108th General Hospital. He was a surgical technician, essentially a surgical nurse. The hospital unit operated for a while in England, caring for air-force casualties, and then in Paris. Although his work was demanding (and, he says, rewarding), he did not have to quit theatre entirely, but acted in various plays on and off the base. After Germany surrendered, he was recruited into a special service company called the Soldier Shows, playing a role and serving as stage manager for a production of the play, Brother Rat, performing on army bases in France and Germany.
After his discharge in February 1946, he married Dorothy Moore, a graduate of the Neighborhood Playhouse who had played one of the parts in Brother Rat.
In the fall of 1946, at the age of twenty-four, with the help of the GI Bill, Cash entered the University of Chicago as a freshman. He graduated AB in 1948. He transferred to the University of Wisconsin, where he won an MA in 1950. He then moved to New York and entered the Ph. D. program at Columbia, completing his Ph. D. in 1961.
In 1952 he took a temporary instructorship at the University of Colorado, where he served for five years. He taught for a year at the University of New Mexico, and ten years at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. He bought a thirty-acre farm outside Fort Collins and farmed it while teaching and working on his dissertation. He ran a small herd of cattle on irrigated pasture.
Cash and Dorothy were divorced in 1973. Their son, Randall, died in 1992. Their daughter, Hilarie, of Duvall, Washington, is a psychotheropist with a national reputation as an expert in computer addiction.
In 1967, Cash accepted a professorship at SUNY New Paltz. He taught a course in the Bible and remains a devoted student of the Bible, though he insists that he is only an amature. His commentaries upon the Old Testament and Epistle lessons are published weekly at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Chelsea.
In 1979, Cash married Mary Gordon, the novelist. When Mary began teaching at Barnard College in 1988, the family moved to New York City. They have a country house in Hope Valley, Rhode Island. Their daughter, Anna, who recently completed a master's degree in Public Health from the University of California at Berkeley, is married to Michael Mirer, sports writer for the Davis, California, Inquirer. David, the youngest child, teaches pre-school children and is studying acting.
In 1989 Cash was promoted to Distinguished Professor, the highest academic rank in the SUNY system. He retired from teaching in 1997 at the age of seventy-five.
Arthur Cash does not do E-mail. Letters to him may be addressed to PO Box 485, Hope Valley, RI 02832.
PUBLICATONS ON LAWRENCE STERNE:
Cash says he fell in love with Laurence Sterne when a student at Chicago. His subsequent work on Sterne has been influential in literary studies.
Sterne's Comedy of Moral Sentiments: The Ethical Dimension of the "Journey", with a foreword by Sir Herbert Read, was published as a prize for winning the annual competition of the Modern Humanities Research Association (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press), l966.
Laurence Sterne: The Early and Middle Years (London: Methuen), l975
Comments about the book:
An exceptionally fine biography, written with verve and style, deeply researched and skilfully organised.
--Philip Toynbee in the Observer.
Mr. Cash stickes to the records, to what is written and what survives; but he is so steeped in place and period that he brings even the knottiest problems of ecclesiastical precedence and the obscurest moments of 1740s electioneering vividly alive.
--Bill Ruddick in Critical Quarterly
Not just another literary study of Sterne but a first-class life, founded upon extensive research, which places Sterne securely in his historical setting and provides a rich slice of 18th-century social history in the process. The great eccentric of English letters is depicted with a sympathetic understand, but that does not prevent a "warts and all" portrait.
--The Sunday Telegraph
There is no doubt that we are here confronted with a work of masterly scholarship. The ease of the narration should not blind us to the immense amount of research involved. Professor Cash has indeed the two main qualities of the great scholar: a patient and effective power of investigation on the one hand, a self-effacing, economically-worded style of presentation on the other. As a result, the burden of scholarship, heavy though it is, is never felt as cumbersome.
--Pierre Danchin in English Studies (Amsterdam)
Laurence Sterne: The Later Years (London and N.Y.: Methuen), 1986.
Comments about the book:
Arthur Cash's biography, "Laurence Sterne," now takes its place as the standard scholarly life, superseding the massive but out-of-date work of Wilbur L. Cross.
Max Byrd in the New York Times Book Review.
Cash knows more than anyone has ever done about Sterne, and we ought to be grateful for his masterful handling of all sorts of evidence. As with its predecesors, devoted to the early and middle years, this book marks a considerable advance in its trawl of the repositories and record offices, the diocesan papers and the municipal archives. As an ecclesiastical functionary with many legal connections, Sterne left a bewildeing number of traces in such locations, and Cash is the first student fully to have combed these sources.
Pat Rogers in London Review of Books
Like the earlier volume of Cash's biography, Laurence Sterne: The Later Years is distinguished by both the author's scrupulous scholarship and a profound affection for his subject. Sterne has been well served.
Mr. Cash's interpretative--not to mentions his scholarly--achievement is consistent and striking: he has presented Sterne as a credible human being, not as a Moral Decadent or as an Immoral Writer. Mr Cash attempts to view Sterne's life in its own terms, acknowledging the selfishness and follies but juxtaposing them with Sterne's large capacity for intimacy and love. For those wishing to undertand Sterne the man, Mr Cash's will unquestionably be the definitive biography for many years to come.
Juffrey Smitten in Review of English Studies
Laurence Sterne at Shandy Hall (York: Laurence Sterne Trust), 1974. Cash has been heard to say that this is his most important and successful publication. It is pamphlet he wrote to be sold at Shandy Hall, Sterne's house in Coxwold, North Yorkshire, in the restoration of which Cash took an active part. The pamphlet has sold upward of 25,000 copies.
The Winged Skull: Papers from the Laurence Sterne Bicentenary Conference, ed. Arthur H. Cash and John H. Stedmon (London: Methuen; Kent: Kent State University Press) l97l. These are papers from the world conference on Sterne that Cash organized. It was held in England during the summer of 1968 and sponsored by SUNY New Paltz, McMaster University in Canada, and the University of York. Meetings were held at the University of York, with visits to Shandy Hall in Coxwold, the King's Manor in York, and York Minster. It is said to have had a major influence upon subsequent Sterne studies. Melvyn New, the outstanding Sterne scholar today, was inspired to take up work on Sterne by the conference.
Cash's first article on Sterne appeared when he was an instructor at the University of Colorado, "The Lockean Psychology of Tristram Shandy," ELH, xx (1955), 125-135. Among his subsequent articles are "Some New Sterne Letters," Times Literary Supplement, 8 April 1965; "The Birth of Tristram Shandy: Sterne and Dr. Burton," Studies in the Eighteenth Century, ed. R. F. Brissenden (Australian National University Press), 1968; "Sterne as a Judge in the Spiritual Courts: The Groundwork of A Political Romance," in English Writers of the Eighteenth Century, ed. John H. Middendorf (Columbia University Press), 1971 (festschrift for James Clifford); "Voices Sonorous and Cracked: Laurence Sterne's Pulpit Oratory," in Quick Springs of Sense, ed. Larry Champion (Athens: University of Georgia Press), 1974 (festschrift for Lodwick Hartley). Cash wrote the biographical article on Sterne for the fifteenth edition of Encyclopedia Brittanica.
PUBLICATONS ON JOHN WILKES:
His work on Sterne completed, Cash turned his attention to Sterne's interesting friend John Wilkes. He set to work on a biography, but was for a time sidetracked by the problems associated with the most famous dirty poem of the period, a parody of Alexander Pope's pius Essay on Man. The parody got Wilkes into much trouble when he printed it.
An Essay on Woman by John Wilkes and Thomas Potter: A Reconstruction of a Lost Book, with a Historical Essay on the Writing, Printing, and Suppressing of This "Blasphemous and Obscene" Work (NY: AMS Press), 2001.
Cash's biography of Wilkes was was one of the three finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in biography for 2006. It was Book of the Month for March 2006 in BBC History Magazine.
John Wilkes: The Scandalous Father of Civil Liberty (New Haven: Yale University Press) appeared in January 2006.
Comments about the book:
From freedom of speech to habeas corpus, from unwarranted arrests to imprisonment without trial, the issues Wilkes fought over are the ones that concern us today, and it is good to be reminded. John Wilkes, thou shouldst be living at this hour.
--Richard Boston in Literary Review
Arthur Cash's biography of Wilkes combines outstanding scholarship--the product of years of archival research--with a compelling, nuanced, and beautifully told narrative of the life of one of the eighteenth century's most compelling charcters.
--John Brewer, Oxford University and University of California at Los Angeles
In the proscess of establishing Wilkes as genuinely heroic, Cash suggest new ways of thinking about the strange relationship between the practice of eighteenth-century libertinism and the birth of modern liberty.
--"Briefly Noted," New Yorker, 2 October 2006
Cash almost converses with his reader while restoring interest and controversy to this relatively obscure but significant figure in the expansion of liberty.
--Gilbert Taylor in Booklist
The strengths of this book are manifold. The central claim for Wilkes's impact on the development of civil liberties and constitutional democracy in Britain and America largely eschews hyperbole and rests on tight reasoning and persuasive supporting evidence. Moreover, Cash's skillful treatment of the intricacies of the eighteenth-century English legal system and the Byzantine inner workings of the mid-century political establishment makes this a book that will be valuable both to the specialist of the period and to a general audience.
--Lee Ward in American Historical Review
Arthur Cash treats the career of John Wilkes as a central episode in the rise of modern liberty. The story is told with authority and vivid feeling: it has the force and immediacy of good journalism and a wealth of historical detail hardly available to Wilkes or his contemporaries. This book rescues Wilkes from legend back to life.
--David Bromwich, English, Yale University
It is difficult to believe that John Wilkes, a notorious womanizer and scandalmonger, was a genuine hero of civil liberties and political democracy on both sides of the Atlantic in the late eighteenth century, but hero he was and in this engaging book Arthur Cash gives Wilkes the serious treatment he has long deserved.
--Eric Foner, History, Columbia University
In an age when election practices included clubbing voters unconscious, he was the ardent advocate of wholesale reform. Though it took over 100 years to be passed, the first bill ever proposing universal male suffrage was introduced in 1776 by the intrepid member for Middlesex.
--Claire Harman, WNLKZFKN
Every writer who enjoys the privilege of speaking without fear of censorship owes a great debt to this "scandalous man" who seemingly lived to test the limits of the boundaries...Arthur Cash tells John Wilkes' story in tight and erudite prose, compassionate and incisive, presenting us a resource that will come to assist generations of students in their pursuit of personal freedom.
--John Aiello in Electric Review
Dandy, scholar, soldier, wit, lover, libertine, radical, Wilkes emerges in Cash's book as a sort of Nietzschean amoral superman, a yay-sayer to life, and the issues around Liberty and government interference are strikingly relevant today. The story would make a superb movie, and congratulations to the amiable Cash for having produced this terrific read.
--Tom Hodgkinson, The Independent