Audio: Larry Hall ’36 Reads Famous Christmas Story, ‘The Ledge’ (Bowdoin Magazine)

Lawrence Sargent Hall ’36


An event in the waters off of Harpswell neck, not far from where English professor Lawrence Sargent Hall ’36 lived on Orr’s Island, inspired his O. Henry Award-winning short story, “The Ledge,” which is set on Christmas day.

Listen to Hall read “The Ledge,” recorded in 1959.



  1. Paul Batista says:

    I read this story as a junior in high school. It, along with the fact that Longfellow and Hawthorne were graduates, made me want to attend the college. And in my freshman year Lawrence Hall was my teacher. He was a remarkable man: terse, plain-spoken, not a touchy feely kind of guy. He was engrossed in writing his only novel, Stowaway, and was not having fun with it. As I recall he lived on Orrs Island, had a beautiful wife, and like many writers of that era drank too much. But he did produce this remarkable story.

  2. David Lander says:

    He was an extraordinary teacher for our freshman English section where we studied Kafka, Dosteyevsky, Melville, Hemmingway and Hesse. He gave each of us a great deal of his wisdom mixed with a dark cynicism. Speaking of dark, i read The Ledge for the first time when it appeared in the best short stories of the twentieth century. Excellent and dark. I look forward to listening to the reading of the story but will wait until i am in the right mood.

  3. Christopher Hanks '68 says:

    Three Larry Hall stories:

    As freshman pledges in the fall of 1964,our assignment was to find “Lawrence Hall.” Some friendly upperclassmen told us it was near the power plant.

    I was lucky enough to draw Professor Hall for freshman English. During one class, while declaiming on the paucity of our summer reading, he put his pipe into his jacket pocket and set himself on fire.

    After reading my paper on Wuthering Heights, he commented in the margin that he could understand my befuddelment as to why the hell Cathy didn’t just choose Heathcliff and be done with it.

  4. Thanks for posting this again. In the four wonderfully exciting years I spent at Bowdoin from 1966 to 1970, Larry Hall was only one of a number of great teachers and writers in the English Department. Two other names of great writers and wonderful teachers in Massachusetts Hall that come to mind were Louis O. Coxe and Howard Nemerov.

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