Robert St. John Manuscript Collection- Oak Park Public Library
Author, broadcaster, and journalist Robert St. John was born in Chicago. His family later moved to Oak Park, where he attended Oak Park River Forest High School. The collection contains original manuscripts of some of his famous works, including Ben-Gurion: the biography of an extraordinary man and They Came from Everywhere.
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Biographical / Historical
Robert St. John was born in Chicago in 1902. He and his family moved to Oak Park in 1910. St. John attended Emerson School and Oak Park River Forest High School. He was a freshman the same time Ernest Hemingway was a senior. St. John recalled being bullied throughout his schooling, which influenced his later outlook on life and made him champion humanitarian causes.
When St. John was 16 years old, he lied about his age so he could serve in the Navy during World War I. He later studied at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, but never graduated. He wrote for the Oak Leaves, Chicago Daily News, Chicago American, and Cicero Tribune, the latter of which he co-founded with his brother, Archer St. John, and was also co-publisher of.
St. John joined the Associated Press as a war correspondent just as World War II began. In 1941 he was stationed in Belgrade in the Balkans. From there he wrote about the Nazi army’s routing of forces in Yugoslavia. He was injured by a machine gun bullet while traveling through Axis controlled territory to escape from the Balkans. In July 1941 St. John travelled back to Oak Park to recover from his injury. By August he resigned from the Associated Press so he could focus on writing about his experiences in the Balkans. The resulting book was later published as From the Land of the Silent People.
Throughout his life St. John wrote over twenty books, a majority of them covering the Middle East. One notable work is a biography of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion. Of local interest is a biography of former Oak Leaves editor Otto McFeeley.
Robert St. John died in February 2003.
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Part of the Oak Park Public Library Special Collections Repository
834 Lake Street
Oak Park IL 60301 USA