Robb Forman Dew, prize-winning novelist, dead at 73

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NEW YORK (AP) — Robb Forman Dew, a prize-winning fiction writer who drew upon her small-town Ohio background for such novels as “Dale Loves Sophie to Death” and “The Evidence Against Her,” has died.

Little, Brown and Company announced this week that Dew died May 22 at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts. She was 73 and the cause of death was complications from endocarditis.

Dew was a native of Mount Vernon, Ohio, who grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, while spending summers back in Ohio. She had a rich literary heritage. She was the granddaughter of the author-critic John Crowe Ransom and the goddaughter of the poet-novelist Robert Penn Warren. Her own record of achievement began with “Dale Loves Sophie to Death,” winner in 1982 of the National Book Award (then called the American Book Award) for best debut fiction. Other works included a trilogy set in fictional Washburn, Ohio; the memoir “The Family Heart”; and the cookbook “A Southern Thanksgiving.”

Born Robb Reavill Forman, she attended Louisiana State University, where she met her future husband, the author and historian Charles Burgess Dew. She is survived by him, their sons Charles Stephen Dew and John Forman Dew, and by her sister, Elizabeth Ransom Forman.

Author Nancy Thayer, who first met Dew in the late 1970s, told the AP that Dew “was painstaking with her work, rewriting and rewriting,” and equally meticulous in her life.

“When I bought a new house, she told me that if I didn’t have smoke alarms installed right now, she was giving me smoke alarms for Christmas. I had them installed immediately,” Thayer wrote in an email. “She always put up three Christmas trees. She personally needlepointed the cushions for her dining room chairs. She cared about every detail in her life and in her work. Her novels are unique and will stand the test of time.”

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