George Rippey Stewart
George Rippey Stewart was an American toponymist, a novelist, and a professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley. He is best known for his only science fiction novel Earth Abides (1949), a post-apocalyptic novel, for which he won the first International Fantasy Award in 1951. It was dramatized on radio's Escape and inspired Stephen King's The Stand.
His 1941 novel Storm, featuring as its protagonist a Pacific storm called Maria, prompted the National Weather Service to use personal names to designate storms and inspired Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe to write the song "They Call the Wind Maria" for their 1951 musical "Paint Your Wagon." Storm was dramatized as "A Storm Called Maria" on a 1959 episode of ABC's Disneyland. Two other novels, Ordeal by Hunger (1936) and Fire (1948) also evoked environmental catastrophes.
Stewart was a founding member of the American Name Society in 1956-57, and he once served as an expert witness in a murder trial as a specialist in family names. His best-known academic work is Names on the Land: A Historical Account of Place-Naming in the United States (1945; reprinted, New York Review Books, 2008). He wrote three other books on place-names, A Concise Dictionary of American Place-Names (1970), Names on the Globe (1975), and American Given Names (1979). His scholarly works on the poetic meter of ballads (published under the name George R. Stewart, Jr.), beginning with his 1922 Ph.D. dissertation at Columbia, remain important in their field.
His 1959 book Pickett's Charge is a detailed history of the final attack at Gettysburg.