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Hubert Skidmore


Hubert Skidmore (April 11, 1909-February 2, 1946) was born at Laurel Mountain (Webster Springs) and later lived in Gassaway. Skidmore was a novelist who used local setting and dialect, and, often, the Depression-era lumber industry. His published works were I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes (1936), Heaven Came So Near (1938), River Rising (1939), Hill Doctor (1940), Hawk’s Nest (1941), and Hill Lawyer (1942), all by Doubleday. Skidmore generally depicted stoic endurance by mountain people in the face of misfortune and economic exploitation by outside interests. His twin brother Hobert (1909–69) was also a successful novelist.

Skidmore’s novel Hawks Nest was a fictionalized treatment of what has been since described as America’s worst industrial incident: the wanton disregard of workers’ lives and health in the construction of the Hawks Nest Tunnel. The novel was printed and then never released from the publisher’s warehouse, although an estimated 200 copies for review had been circulated. Despite rumors of corporate interference, Doubleday never officially explained the book’s disappearance. Five years after the novel’s suppression, Skidmore died at his Pennsylvania home. Hawks Nest was retrieved from oblivion by Jim Comstock in 1970, in his effort to reprint important West Virginia material, and later reprinted in a facsimile edition by Thomas In-Prints of Gauley Bridge.

Written by Gordon Simmons


  1. Brenni, Vito J. West Virginia Authors: A Bibliography 2nd ed., rev. by Joyce Binder. Morgantown: West Virginia University Library, 1968.

  2. Comstock, Jim, ed. West Virginia Heritage Encyclopedia vol. 20. Richwood: Jim Comstock, 1976.

  3. Skidmore, Hubert. Hawks Nest. New York: Doubleday/Doron & Co., 1941.