Roundtable: “Everett Ruess: His Short Life, Mysterious Death, and Astonishing Afterlife”

November 17th, Faculty Club

The final Bancroft Round Table of the Fall 2011 Semester will take place at noon on Thursday, November 17th in the Lewis-Latimer Room of the Faculty Club.  Misfortune has struck, and our scheduled speaker, Jeff Lustig, is unfortunately unable to join us due to an unanticipated health problem.  On very short notice, noted local historian and author Philip Fradkin has offered to present a talk in his stead.  We hope that Jeff will be able to give his presentation on Californias second constitutional convention at a later date. We are grateful that we had an accomplished Bancroft scholar to speak in his stead.

Philip will talk about his recently published book, Everett Ruess His Short Life, Mysterious Death, and Astonishing Afterlife. Everett Ruess was twenty years old when he vanished into the red rock canyon lands of southern Utah, spawning the myth of a romantic desert wanderer that survives to this day. It was 1934, and Ruess was in the fifth year of a quest to find beauty in the wilderness and record it in works of art whose value was recognized by such contemporary artists as Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, and Edward Weston. From his home in Los Angeles, he walked, hitchhiked, or rode a burro up the California coast, along the crest of the Sierra Nevada, and into the deserts of the Southwest. Seventy-five years after Ruesss disappearance his bones were supposedly discovered in 2009. Misguided journalism led to bad science and erroneous DNA results. In the first probing biography of Everett Ruess, acclaimed environmental historian Philip Fradkin goes beyond the myth to reveal a troubled, idealistic adolescent who flirted with death and lost, and finds in the artists astonishing afterlife a lonely hero who persevered.

The campus community is invited to join us at this talk and learn more about a talented young man who, had he lived, might have been a noted California artist and poet and whose grandfather, William H. Knight, worked for H. H. Bancroft and Company.