Branch Cabell (James Branch Cabell) (kă´bəl), 1879–1958, American novelist, b. Richmond, Va., grad. William and Mary, 1898. After various experiences as a journalist and a coal miner he began writing fiction. His early works, which are sophisticated novels deriding conventional history, include Gallantry (1907), Chivalry (1909), and The Rivet in Grandfather's Neck (1915). Many of Cabell's most popular novels are set in the imaginary medieval kingdom of Poictesme; among these are The Cream of the Jest (1917), Jurgen (1919)—Cabell's most famous work because of its attempted suppression on charges of obscenity—and The Silver Stallion (1926). Cabell's novels are usually pointedly antirealistic, and many of them can be considered moral allegories. Although he was enormously popular in the 1920s, his highly artifical prose style and subject matter lost favor with critics and public alike by the 1930s. His nonfictional writing includes Beyond Life (1919), The St. Johns (with A. J. Hanna, 1943), and Here Let Me Lie (1947).
See studies by J. L. Davis (1962), D. Tarrant (1967), H. Walpole (1920, repr. 1973), and L. D. Rubin (1959, repr. 1973).