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Tom Kromer


Novelist and short story writer Thomas Michael Kromer (October 20, 1906-January 10, 1969) was born in Huntington to Grace Thornburg and Czech immigrant Albert Kromer, a coal miner and glass worker. The Kromers also lived at times in Fairmont, Kingwood, and Williamstown.

Best-known for his first novel, Waiting for Nothing (1935), Kromer chronicled the plight of the dispossessed of the Great Depression. His fiction attracted the attention of the literary left, including Lincoln Steffens, who published some of Kromer’s short fiction in his magazine, Pacific Weekly, and Theodore Dreiser, who wrote an introduction for the British edition of Waiting for Nothing. Maxim Lieber, who had been Thomas Wolfe’s literary agent, handled most of Kromer’s published work, placing parts of Kromer’s unfinished novel, Michael Kohler, in American Spectator magazine, which was edited by playwright Eugene O’Neill and others. Michael Kohler draws on firsthand accounts of coal mining, the glass industry, and, like Waiting for Nothing, the psychological tumult of the Depression.

Kromer attended Marshall College (now Marshall University) for brief periods between 1925 and 1929. He crisscrossed the country after 1929, often traveling by freight train. He married in 1936 and settled down in Albuquerque for a quarter-century. He gave up writing about 1940, becoming an invalid. He returned to Huntington in 1960, living there with family until his death.

Written by Thomas Douglass


  1. Kromer, Tom. Waiting for Nothing and Other Writings. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1986.

  2. Tom Kromer. West Virginia Hillbilly, 11/23/1968.

  3. Gray, Frances. "Waiting for Nothing: Tom Kromer, 1906-1969." Ph.D. diss., State University of New York at Stony Brook, 1978.