About the author

Living an ordinary childhood in a middle-class family in Arkansas's biggest city during the extraordinary times of the Great Depression, Cleveland Harrison was a typical boy - going to movies, riding streetcars, cycling and skating, camping with the Boy Scouts, and making friends across lines of age, race, gender, and class. Visiting his relations in rural Arkansas proved educational and enjoyable but convinced him that he really belonged in the bustling city of Little Rock.

When his father lost or changed jobs during the tough economic times, Harrison's family submitted to different working and living arrangements to help ends meet. At school, however, Cleveland discovered his life's true calling--theater. Through taking elocution lessons, writing plays, singing on the radio, performing in glee clubs and choirs, and acting in plays, he trained for his ultimate profession. At Little Rock Senior High School, he was elected president of the student body, met the girl he would marry, and established friendships that would last a lifetime.

Harrison writes, "I chose to recall my Depression-era childhood rather than my professional career, hoping to perceive how such an ordinary boy from a small-town family, living so far from America's artistic centers, became obsessed with the theatre arts. Perhaps my recollections, from the point of view of a growing boy, have also revealed how much public schools in Little Rock in the 1930s and 1940s aided my intellectual and artistic development."

His wartime experiences as a U.S. Army infantryman were the inspiration for his highly praised memoir, Unsung Valor: A GI's Story of World War II, which won the 2001 Forrest C. Pogue Prize of the Eisenhower Center for American Studies. His essays for the Pulaski County Historical Review in the 1990s led him to write A Little Rock Boyhood: Growing Up in the Great Depression.

Harrison taught for seven years at Little Rock Junior College (now the University of Arkansas at Little Rock) and for 13 years at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. As professor emeritus at Auburn University, Harrison won the Theater Hall of Fame Award as "a past pioneer in Alabama theatre." After 45 years in educational theater, he retired in 1991. Harrison lives in Auburn, Alabama.